Do Stone Buildings stay warm in the winter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TheSitcomGirls, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. TheSitcomGirls

    TheSitcomGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My husband built a chicken enclosure inside an existing old stone building. It was great for the chickens in the summer as it stayed cooler than outside and there are many windows. Now we are getting ready for our first winter as chicken owners. The main door is a bit warped so some air does get in around it. I am trying to figure out if we should rebuild it. Do I really need to? It gets pretty cold here in the winter average 15 - 20 at night, not including the wind chill. I have two large windows and one small which are covered with one layer of plywood, the rest are glass but they face mostly east and southeast. The main door faces east. Has anyone ever kept chickens in stone buildings in the winter? Do I need to insulate or add plastic on my plywood covered windows?

    Thanks for your help!

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  2. Lesa

    Lesa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a beautiful setup. My guess is that you will do fine with what you have. Cold isn't really the problem. Do you have enough ventilation in there? If it is not drafty-you should be fine. You have a thermometer- just keep an eye on it. It looks like they will be snug to me!
     
  3. Cindiloohoo

    Cindiloohoo Quiet as a Church Mouse

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    If 15 is the lowest temp you get they will absolutely be fine in there provided there is enough ventilation. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I can tell you how stone or cinderblock buildings do for *horses* in the winter, which is much the same thing as for chickens.

    They are real toasty warm for the first part of the winter, because of the great thermal mass involved (the walls themselves, and the ground they enclose, since IME they are invariably earth- or stone- or slab-floored).

    In cold regions the thermal subsidy sometimes piddles out in mid to late winter leaving you with a really COLD building that doesn't even warm up in the daytime... depending on how cold your winters are and what exactly is the structure of your building (more massive or larger buildings, especially ones with many stone or cinderblock internal walls or partitions, will stay warmer longer than smaller or thinner-walled ones).

    However if your "cold" winter temperatures are just in the teens F (like, *positive* teens) then you really need not worry about cold [​IMG]

    What you WILL have to be careful of is condensation problems when you get a warm day in January and as spring approaches. Once the stone walls/floor have started to cool, if you then bathe them in a warm humid unseasonable Southern airmass you can get condensation to the point that the ceiling literally drips and all interior surfaces have a film of water on them. This, needless to say, is not so great for chickens [​IMG] On days like that, if they are forecast to be brief and limited, it may actually be best to shut as much ventilation as possible. Although when you get a long spell of spring weather you sometimes just have to suck it up, throw alllllll the windows and doors open, maybe run a fan if necessary, and simply hope things dry out quickly (determined by the rate at which the stone/concrete warms up).

    (If you should find yourself having too many aggravating problems with condensation like that, you can insulate the inside or even just put a plywood lining on the inside walls. This is not a perfect solution but sometimes worthwhile. However your building is smallish enough and your climate sounds warm enough that I would pretty much doubt you'd ever need to.)

    So on the whole, I think that as long as it is predatorproofed adequately you are likely to be very happy with your building as a chicken coop [​IMG] You really ought to add some ventilation though. Gaps or cracks in the door are not adequate. If you can ventilate through rafter gaps that can work, or make some of the windows openable. (Are they really *all* plywood-ed over, with no natural light???)

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. swift4me

    swift4me Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in a 200 year old stone house without any other types of insulation. I can tell you that one the thermal mass of your structure lowers to the average temperature of winter, nothing will change that other than warmer weather, or about 5 wood stoves going full time..

    Your coop looks great though.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    It depends so much on the climate though. If summers never really heat up much or for long, that is a way different ballgame than if the building is located somewhere with 'real' summer. And again, it depends on how quickly one's winters get cold -- if it is a gradual and nondramatic change, the stone will not help keep things warm (in early winter) the way it will in climates where the change to winter is dramatic.

    Pat
     
  7. TheSitcomGirls

    TheSitcomGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here we do get some nights that are below 15...but not usually that many, at least not the past few winters. I have been to Canada in the winter when the snow is blue, it is not that cold here! I haven't seen any dripping from condensation in the winter pre-chicken, but I will watch for that. I think the silver metal roof helps somehow.

    There is light from up above across the opposite sides from the big windows from the row of tiny windows up high. They have probably been sealed since the 1930's. This building was a milkhouse back then. I wanted my husband to open at least one of them for the summer, he asked me if I minded him opening it with a rock. So I guess that's not happening!

    We have many, many predators here at night so our chickens are locked up, everything is hardware cloth and serious staples. Sometimes I have trouble getting in!

    There are three windows that open on the side facing the horse pasture. My husband made an inside door for each out of plywood that is attached at the top and swings down and closes at the bottom. It hard to see in the picture, but the plywood it attached with hooks to the ceiling. In the summer I put a fan blowing out in the center one.....an old farmer told me to do that. It seemed to keep the air moving and it was not smelly in there. I have a tiny side window too, I open that in the summer. When the temps are below 40 at night I have been closing them all. Then in the morning I open them and the eastern sun comes in. I figured I would keep opening them up during the day until the temps get below freezing.

    So I bought a heated water bowl just in case it get really cold, but I will let the husband off the hook for rebuilding the door, for now! [​IMG] Thanks for all the info!

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  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You've gotten some great advice. I promise you, 15 or 20 is not cold for chickens, they will be out in it if it's daylight, even when windy. Parts of my walls are hardware cloth, and I don't even cover all of it in winter, just cut the drafts on the perches.
     

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