First winter/ any suggestions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mommagretch, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. mommagretch

    mommagretch New Egg

    Nov 13, 2010
    I have three chickens in a smaller sized:"handcrafted chicken coop". That's the brand.
    It s an ark style coop. I live in Pennsylvania just north of Philadelphia. Anyway. The girls ar 8 months old and have been giving me 3/3 eggs since mid august (yummy). They are a hoot and my kids love them!

    So as not to have frozen chickens and sad children here are the "winter improvements" I have made. I m looking for feedback.

    I have the broad side of the coop facing west and the end with the 3 vent holes (one has the heated water nipple bottle hanging through it.) facing north.

    The end that has the nest box faces south. I brought it near the side of the house where it gets sun almost all day and gets the reflection of the sun off the white house. I covered the non-sunny side of the lower run with corrugated plastic/cardboard style sheets cut to fit the sides tightly and on the other side I cut to fit snuggly some plexiglass... that way the sun shines in the coop. The end door is 2/3 covered with plexiglass I left some uncovered for ventlation. There is a work light hangng in the lower run portion of the coop (40 watts) and I have been leaving the ladder down at nght so the warmth rises and they get the early AM lght and evening light. ( I have it on a timer). I covered the top part of the ark with old peices of carpet to insulate it from the cold and little breezes blowing through the tiny cracks of light I could see when I stuck my head in there. I increased the amout of bedding. There is some condensation on the insde of the plexiglass in the AM.

    So my question is to all the more experienced chicken did I do? Any feedback?''

    I was a novice at the coop buying thing and am not really a building type person. I have some buyers remorse as I feel the space is not too generous and there is really no actual roost bar for them to sit on so I clean out the poop more often. We have a large well fenced lot and they roam free all day. Up until now they have only gone in there to sleep, lay eggs, and eat. I have water in the pen but they prefer the cats dish by my back door. poop everywhere! we have racoons, skunks, cats and ground hogs and the girls are safe in the coop I never raised the ladder at night over the summer.

    Sorry this is so long...I just need to know how I'm doing.

    chicken keeper to the girls (Peck,Princess, and Big Momma one rhode island red, 2 ameracauna)
  2. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    It sounds like you are thinking each step through and being really careful. Remember that chickens generally do well in the cold (you didn't say which kind you have). From everything I've read (this will be my first winter with them as well) it is far more important to provide adequate ventilation and to avoid drafts than it is to provide warmth. You might want to watch out for too much humidity, if you are seeing condensation. It is the cold + humidity that can cause frost bite. If you can keep things dry, than the cold is not as much of an issue.
  3. mommagretch

    mommagretch New Egg

    Nov 13, 2010
    Thanks for your input. I have one RIR never misses a day and 2 americauna. they lay the most beautiful blueish green eggs
  4. Ed62

    Ed62 Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you have condensation on the plexiglass, that indicates not enough ventilation. The longer they are in the coop, the worse it will get. They recommend 1 square foot of ventilation for each chicken, but if you have a small coop for the amount of chickens you have, you'll likely need more than that.

    I agree with the previous post which says ventilation is more important than heat, and moisture + cold = possible frostbite.

    If you are really concerned with the cold weather, putting bales of straw against the sides of the coop will help.

  5. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:X2. Your ventilation all needs to be up high; wasn't sure which end of the door you left uncovered. Not only frostbite but problems from ammonia in the air.
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    some thoughts below...[​IMG]

    And I'm wondering if your ark could be placed under a roofed structure for winter to create a snow-free run...even inside a barn or well vented large shed...
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I hate those A-frame arks. They are *terrible* for places that get actual winter. Philly is, well, sort of borderline on the actual winter thing (I grew up there [​IMG]) but still not ideal country for wintering chickens in an A-frame.

    As others have said, condensation whilst your air temps are still quite mild is a clear sign of insufficient ventilation. It sounds like you have fairly-snugly covered most or all of the 'run' part of the structure. That is way too much, especially if it is sitting on the ground rather than on concrete slab or raised wooden platform. Remove some of that and your humidity problem should go away. If there is condensation in the 'indoor' part of the coop as well, then that part *also* needs more ventilation, at a point as far opposite the roost as possible.

    The thing about these teeny arks is that they have tiny air volume, meaning you need proportionately *more* ventilation than in a larger more cubical coop, yet there is so little room in there that it is awfully hard to put the ventilation somewhere it won't be dumping a cold breeze on the sleeping chickens, and there is also so little room that you may have a tough time finding a safe place to put an electrical heating device if your efforts to sufficiently ventilate are insufficient and you start getting humdity-related frostbite.

    I'm not saying it can't be DONE, wintering chickens over in an A-frame in a place with actual winter; and if you're going to try doing it, Philly is certainly a better place than the U.P. of Michigan or something like that [​IMG] -- but you have to recognize that it will take a lot more careful tuning, creativity, and watchful management, and may not be as great an experience for the chickens.

    Good luck, have fun,


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