Eliminating drafts in a tractor

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Doughpat, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Doughpat

    Doughpat Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 29, 2008
    Hi everyone. With an arctic blast coming our way this weekend, I'm nervous about my young hens in their coop. My tractor has an elevated nesting box that is about 4 feet wide x 2' x 2'. Because the tractor itself has a door that I lock, I don't have to lock the chickens into their nesting box each night. But, this means that there is a big hole (about 10" square) that the chickens enter/exit through each night/evening. This big hole has to let a lot of cold air in. Is there any way I can make a "self-closing door" for their coop? Sort of like those funny old-school grocery store "doors" made of tons of hanging plastic strips. I was thinking about some kind of thin, flexible material (carpet?) that the chickens could push through to get into their box. I am trying to make the nesting area less drafty.

    I have a funny feeling that the chickens would not appreciate/understand this obstacle....anyone tried something like this? Am I being overly paranoid? I live in Oregon...we probably won't see anything below 15 F ever....

  2. Trollkiller

    Trollkiller Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 26, 2008
    Lake Como, Fl. 32157
    I would just put a door on the 10 inch opening and close it after they have gone to bed.

    I doubt the chicken will be smart enough to push the carpet out of the way.
  3. Jayare's Chicks

    Jayare's Chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2007
    Florence, Alabama
    Cut a piece of cardboard just bigger than the opening and staple it in place with a staple gun each night that it's cold, just remove it in the morning so they can get out into the tractor after sunup. But if your chickens are fully feathered they should be fine.

    What about putting a red heat light in there for them and turn it on at night?

  4. Chickenfortress

    Chickenfortress Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2008
    I have a locking lexan pet door as my pop door. Even though they can see through it they won't use it unless I prop one side open. I'm thinking that to a chicken an obstacle is an obstacle. If it provides enough resistance to stop hard winds it's too much for them to try to get through. So, it's out to unlock, and then prop open one side, every morning.

    Edited for stupid fingers.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    I had a dog door on one of my coops for awhile. It was one of the doors with the flexible plastic flap. I think Johnson is the brand name. I had to work with the chickens, to get them to use it, but it worked fine for me. I took the outer ring flap off, so the main flap was easier to push open. The magnets holding it closed, were just too hard for them to deal with. Although it was dark colored, you could still see through it. I think being able to see through it and having it take very little resistance to push through, plus teaching them to use it, are keys to success.

    A better idea that people on the forum were posting about last year, is using clear plastic strips, like the cooler/freezer doors you described. Start out with just a strip or two and add more as they get comfortable with it. Also, make sure you check on them at night, to make sure they are all in. Just in case one of them needs a little help. This is especially important in the beginning.

    I'm trying to remember what people used and where they found the best plastic to use. I think it was heavy plastic from a big fabric store, in the section where they sell the vinyl and heavy upholstery material. You could try searching the forum for some of those threads.

    The other thing you could do, is add a sliding door, manipulated with a rope.
  6. beak

    beak On vacation

    Dec 12, 2008
    Kiowa, Colorado
    I think your being overly paranoid. We live in Colorado and get 20 to -15 from Dec-Feb. We have our chickens in a 8x8x6 coop on the ground. The door is almost always open an inch or so on the bottom because of snow or ice. I have ventilation through the top. We have a 250 watt red bulb over the water feeder to keep it from freezing. They are fine and are still laying eggs. We also put in one of those small fluorescent lights for under kitchen cabinets. Put it on a timer to come on after sunset to total 16 hrs light. No frozen chickens and they are still laying eggs. Everything I've read says chickens are very cold tolerant. They have a good article in Backyard Poultry December edition about winterizing chickens.

    You might cut down on drafts by putting a clear plastic curtain around 3 sides of your open area. Then be sure the open side is facing away from the wind.
  7. Doughpat

    Doughpat Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 29, 2008
    OK--I've got all three sides of the coop wrapped in a layer of plastic, and I put a big huge recyling cart in front of the non-covered side. I sat inside for a minute and it felt fairly draft free. Combine that with the 10" x 10" hole in the coop, and the girls should be ok. I think I'm not going to worry about using a heat lamp---I'll be away and the fire risk just sounds like really horrifying thing.

    Of course its 39, gusty and raining right now...and the girls are out scratching around like its no big thing. I suppose I probably AM being a little paranoid..
  8. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    I've heard about people using clear plastic strips, but it takes forever for the chickens to get used to it. They had to push the chickens through it every day for weeks. I agree with the other poster. Just make a regular door and close it when it's really cold.
  9. greathorse

    greathorse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2008
    Northern Colorado
    Gonna say it again. More chickens become ill as a result of coops that are too tight and too moist than than from cold coops. All livestock and all of us need fresh air to be healthy. If you close off that little door I would sure make srue there is some venilation

    I have seven week old Jersey giants in a small coop in my barn with just a small light for them. Two nights ago the electricity went out out there and they spent the night at negative 8 with no heat. Beleive me they were cold and I felt bad but had they been getting a lot of heat and that happened they would be gone. The barn is fairly tight but plenty of fresh air moving around but no direct wind. That saved them.

    Let em live

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