Coops in Winter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cluckcluck42, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. cluckcluck42

    cluckcluck42 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 4, 2009
    I'm turning a big shed into a chicken coop soon, and just wondering how to make sure it's warm enough for the hens? There isn't electricity hooked up yet.

    What do you guys do in winter with your coops? Do you let your chickens out and explore in the cold?? I live in Canada, by the way. This is my first time owning chickens!!
  2. okiechick57

    okiechick57 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am in Oklahoma...........I just built a coop out of a metal shed, I have one heat lamp in there now......not sure how winter will go. we get more ice than we do curious what others say !
  3. Sooner

    Sooner My kids Mom!

    Mar 22, 2009
    I do have electric to my coop to plug in the heat (dog) waterer. Later in the winter if I want to have more eggs I might add a light but I do not heat the coop. I am not sure what you should expect considering you are in Canada. We had a 14 day strech of no electric due to a ice storm and all my chickens made it fine.
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Cluckcluck...if you can access electricity (VERY useful to have available in your coop for various reasons), you might want to look into something called a Thermocube. It only kicks the power on to whatever is plugged into it when the temp falls below 35 degrees, and kicks off again if it hits 45 degrees (F).

    As long as my chickens are willing to go out, I'll let them out (unless it gets down in the single digits). Many talk about spreading straw out on snowy or frozen ground to give them something to scratch around on. I'd also think it would be a bit of cold buffer for their feet too???
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree and if your have some dry shavings from the coop you can toss that out on the ice as well.
  7. skywatcher

    skywatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2009
    Here in Indiana winter temps get down to zero or - single digits with some nasty wind chills. I don't have electric in coop but have a dirt floor that I add layer of straw to.This compost gives some heat my coop is built with metal & plywood siding to minimize drafts with glass widows & door panels on the south sides. If you have cracks between your boards I would Tarpaper over them .
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  8. Klorinth

    Klorinth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2008
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Just think of how many people have raised chickens across North America over the last 200 years. Very few had the luxury of heat coops. Especially those up here in Canada. When you have windchills that take the temps down into -40 or lower range.

    Take a look at Lynnes page. She has some really good stuff there.

    Focus on a dry, draft free, well ventilated, insulated coop, with good food. Space to move, but a snug little space to nest and sleep in... It is actually easy to create some good for them without going into the heating discussion. I consider that a luxury addition for mine. Not that I wont put power in next year or the year after. But I don't want to run 400' of cable unless I really need to. $$$

    Look at my coop thread for my perspective. You have lots of options to choose from. Enjoy the process.
  9. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    [​IMG] from MN.

    JMO, but if you don't have the ability to get electricity to your coop, then you want to make sure you have good insulation (especially in the ceiling), excellent ventilation (up high so no cold wind is blowing on the chickens) and that the coop is definitely draft free. I have heat but it doesn't heat the coop much more than 10-15 degrees warmer than outside. Enough to take the edge off. I am always surprised at how much more comfortable 0F feels inside the coop because there is NO draft. Electricity in a chicken coop is a definite plus, if not for heat, then for light and a defrosting water dish.

    More chickens = more body heat. Less chickens in a big space = providing heat or an enclosed hover for their roost.

    My chickens don't really like the snow much, and since the ground freezes 12 inches + down, there's not anything there for them to scratch around for. I do let them out to scratch around and sunbathe when it's at least 15F and the sun is out, but they don't really like it much and seem to prefer to sunbathe in the widows of their coop. Their pop door is opened daily unless the daytime high is below 0F.

    I have some winter info on my BYC page. You can also do some searches (in the blue bar above) and you'll find TONS of information on winter, cold, ventilation, heat, etc.
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    Yup, chickens do fine in most of Canada (where are you?), the main headache is just keeping the water liquid. In the absence of electricity you will just have to bring them fresh (liquid) water as often as it takes... do *not* use a galvanized font for this, as they will bust irreparably at the seams if allowed to freeze.

    Insulation is highly desirable; however, ventilation is ESSENTIAL. Oddly there are a number of Canadian poultry keepers who still believe that you must shut the coop up totally tight during the winter; I suspect that they think this because when they *do* it they *get* frostbite unless they run lots and lots of heatlamps, and so they imagine "how much worse it would be if I *didn't* shut the coop up tight!" On the contrary, you need ventilation -- more than you might think -- ALL WINTER LONG, to carry away humidity. Chickens produce a LOT of humidity, and humid indoor air => frostbite at fairly mild temperatures. Well-chosen breeds in DRY DRAFT-FREE air should be good well towards -20 C and quite often a whole lot lower.

    Most people open the popdoor and give chickens the option of going outside unless it is a howling blizzard or super nasty cold out there. SOme chickens are more outdoorsy than others, but you may as well give them the choice.

    Good luck, have fun,


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