Free insulation for coop..should i or shouldnt i ????/

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by vajjslayer09, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. vajjslayer09

    vajjslayer09 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 16, 2015
    Southeast ohio
    my friend just got about 30 pieces of 4foot by 8foot foam board insulation...its basically new and he said i could have it...its 1/2 inch thick i thought about insulating the coop and still lleaving some vents up top..whats your guys thoughts? im in southern ohio so winters get pretty cold and i have tin as my coop wall,,thinking about using it on three walls and not on my fourth you have to cover it up? ive read where chicks like to peck at it?
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    If it's free it may be worth using but it will definitely need to be covered with something or they will eat it. So you'll still have to buy something. IMHO, insulation doesn't help much in a well ventilated coop. At 4 AM in January, it will be the same temp inside as out regardless of insulation.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Insulation is really only best used in southern climates on the roof to repel solar heating. As said, with the ventilation used to prevent frostbite in winter insulation wont amount to much but on the roof in summer it aids in not overheating the coop.
  4. vajjslayer09

    vajjslayer09 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 16, 2015
    Southeast ohio
    yeah i was thinking that too..hmm maybe ill just use it in a different shed lol
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Yes chickens often like to peck at it and eat it. If you use it you’ll need to cover it with something, metal, thin plywood, siding, hard plastic, maybe even cardboard.

    When people post on here about insulating the coop you get a lot of different opinions. Some people that use it say it makes a ton of difference, some say it makes absolutely no difference. Why would you get that? Maybe not every coop in the world is exactly the same. (I know that sounds kind of snarky but it’s not aimed at you. Yours is a good question.)

    First you don’t need to keep the area where the chickens are warm. I know that is cold to you but chickens are more like the birds that overwinter there. They don’t feel the cold like we do. What you need to do is to allow the chicken to keep themselves warm. With their down and feathers they can manage that quite well as long as you give them plenty of ventilation but keep breezes from hitting them directly. They trap tiny pockets of air in their down and feathers. Body heat warms these air pockets up and they keep the bird quite warm. If a breeze hard enough to ruffle the feathers and let those air pockets escape hits the bird it can get cold. Wild birds or feral chickens find sheltered places to hide when a cold wind is blowing, but when chickens are in the coop they don’t have a lot of options to seek shelter. They are a lot more dependent on what we build.

    Ventilation is valuable for two reasons. When their poop breaks down it releases ammonia. Ammonia is dangerous to their respiratory system but it is lighter than air. Even a relatively small hole over their heads when they are on the roost will allow the lighter ammonia to escape and good fresh air to come in. Gravity powers that process.

    The real danger to chickens in cold weather is not freezing to death but frostbite. Frostbite is possible any time the temperature is below freezing but we are outside a lot in below freezing temperatures and don’t often get frostbite. Conditions have to be right for frostbite to occur. One of the big factors is the humidity. Wind chill has an effect but you’ve already stopped a breeze from hitting them directly to stop from ruffling their feathers and letting those air pockets out. You’ll never get the inside humidity below the outside humidity so there are limits to what you can do but you want it as low as possible. The main thing is you don’t want moisture condensing out of the air and getting them wet. Humidity can come from their pop, their breathing, and maybe their water, depending on how you water them in the cold.

    How do you get good ventilation and still keep a cold breeze off of them? There are different ways but to me an easy one is to have openings above their heads. That lets the ammonia out. Warm air rises and also holds more moisture than cold air. It may not feel like much to you but there is warm air coming from fresh poop and their breathing, maybe from a heated water dish. So even on a calm day high openings help. If a breeze is blowing you can get air movement between openings up high. That will create a little gentle turbulence lower down to stir the air up and help with replacing bad air with good without chilling the birds.

    If your coop is built on the ground then the ground acts as a thermal mass and provides warmth when the air temperature is lower than the ground temperature. That will be when you have a cold snap. On a calm day this can move a lot of air up and out since warm air is lighter than cool air.

    The risk with insulating your coop is that you make it so air tight that you stop ventilation. That’s mainly why I typed all that above. People a lot further north than you have fixed frostbite problems by providing more ventilation.

    Insulation will slow down heat transfer through your metal walls. In some conditions it can make it quite a bit nicer inside than out. A larger coop built on the ground and insulated can possibly be warmer in the winter. A small elevated coop well insulated even with great ventilation up high can be warmer, especially on a calm day due to their body heat and other potential heat sources. Most of your severe cold will be on calm days. That small temperature difference will help bring fresh air in and get bad air out. I think the difference in winter due to the insulation will be relatively minor, but in some coops it is noticeable.

    Moisture can and usually will condense on your metal walls and roof too. That can dump a lot of water inside your coop.

    To me the big advantage for you will be in the summer. Heat kills a lot more chickens than cold. Heat in summer is much more likely to be your enemy than cold in winter. Insulation on your metal walls will slow down the sun warming your coop, especially on the roof and on the southern and western sides. With really good ventilation your metal coop will probably cool off enough to keep from cooking the chickens once the sun goes down, but again that depends a lot on your type of coop. That metal will warm up and radiate heat even after the sun quits heating it. If your roosts are close to the walls or the roof you can still have problems from that. But especially during the day when the hens are on the nests laying eggs good insulation can greatly reduce the temperature inside the coop, especially if the nests are on the southern or western walls.

    Free insulation is not free. You have to install it. That means labor plus some supplies. You should cover it to keep them from eating it. That doesn’t have to be really extravagant but again costs labor and probably supplies. You may need a vapor barrier too to stop water from condensing and getting that insulation wet. Not knowing what your coop looks like or whether it is in the shade in summer, I’d really look at the benefits in the summer against heat. Those could be big. In winter there are some benefits but those are probably pretty minor.
  6. vajjslayer09

    vajjslayer09 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 16, 2015
    Southeast ohio
    thankd for the input ridge runner..i dont think im going to put it in now

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