How to winterize for milder climates

lynseylou

In the Brooder
Jun 6, 2020
13
14
26
Hello all! I have a few questions about winterizing my coop. I have attached pictures for reference. Here is some information about my current setup:

- I am located near Athens, Georgia. So not south Georgia but not in the mountains either. Kind of the foothills area. We occasionally get snow but it's never a guarantee in the winter. This year, it has dropped below freezing (32F) a few times already, which I feel is more than years past.
- My flock is 5 chickens: 2 are 19 months old and 3 are 6 months old. The 19 month old chickens did fine last winter with no house modifications.
- My current regimen is to leave the triangular ramp door open on nights that are above freezing and close on nights it gets below 32F OR when it's going to rain a lot overnight and drop below about 45F. My flock puts themselves to bed at sunset and they start waking up when I go out before work (approximately 6:30-7am) to bring out fresh water and pick up poop from overnight. They come out of the house either when I'm cleaning or after I've left for work. When I close the door, it gets opened at that same time in the mornings since I leave for work by 7am.
- Food is hanging under the house. Water is set in a corner. I bring waterer inside every night after they've gone to bed and take outside before they wake to prevent frozen water.
- There are two large nest boxes but naturally, the hens only use one and at night, someone may sleep in them instead of on one of the two roosts they have.
- The floor under the roosts has slits for ventilation during the muggy and humid Georgia summers but I cover it with a board in the winter.
- Until 2 weeks ago when I thought I saw 2 chickens shivering in the morning, there were shavings only in nest boxes. Now I've put shavings on all horizontal surfaces inside. No shivering seen since.

My questions:
1. Do you think I need to insulate better for winter? I considered the foam board insulation with a canvas flap over the door opening to add extra draft control. But then I saw a bunch of chickens like to eat the foam board.
2. I was thinking about putting smaller nest boxes on one of the side walls with an entrance from the main area with a top I can lift open to retrieve eggs. This would allow me to space out the roosts more and hopefully prevent that anyone sleeps in the nest boxes overnight, thus pooping in them all night.
3. My two older hens literally rule the roosts and choose the highest roost. None of the other 3 are allowed up there. If I were to do the external nest boxes and arrange new roosts inside, would it be ok to keep their favorite roost where it is and just make 1-2 new options where the current nest boxes are?

The latches I use for my doors would require thumbs to open them so I'm not concerned about predators. And my attached yard is covered with livestock fencing and hardware cloth or wildlife netting reinforcement on every surface. The bottom boards are 4x4 and the whole structure is so heavy that it literally broke the boards first instead of moving when we attempted to lift it with our tractor. I feel confident that predators can't get in easily overnight when I leave ramp door open.

I'm open to suggestions. While I regret making an A-frame yard (because it's incredibly frustrating to clean out,) I don't want to have to start from scratch. I hope to be able to do some modifications to my current setup to make it nicer for them and to hopefully add no more than 2-3 hens in the spring.

Thanks in advance! And please: no rude or mean comments. I'm genuinely interested in receiving input from other backyard flock owners.
 

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3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,573
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North Carolina Sandhills
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This is what I did in the NC Sandhills: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/winterizing-coop-and-pen-nc-sandhills-version.1431885/

Your chickens still need plenty of ventilation in the winter so don't close anything off unless it's blowing directly on the roosts where they sleep.

In our climate all they need is protection from the wind and the ability to get out of the rain.

No heat. No insulation. Lots of ventilation to keep the coop from getting too humid. Plenty of dry bedding to absorb the moisture from the poop.

Our winters are easier for our chickens to cope with than our summers are. :)
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
34,421
70,966
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
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Is the door the only ventilation?

I worry that any issues you might have will arise from the lack of ventilation.

Also... with such a tiny coop, some covered run would help oodles.

Not sure how to do either (add ventilation and add run roof) with your current setup.

Humm.

In super hot climates open air coops are the way to go, lots of wire walls, and super deep roof overhangs to keep out rain.
 

lynseylou

In the Brooder
Jun 6, 2020
13
14
26
Thanks for the replies! It's been a busy work week already.

There are several ventilation holes where the roof meets the wall. And technically, when I close the triangle ramp door, it has a gap about 1-2 inches because the hinge is broken. Would that be enough ventilation for overnight on below freezing nights? Everything is open all day long and they spend all day outside in their run unless its egg laying time.

As far as a covered run, I wondered about that too. In the summer- not an issue because the tree it's under provides great shade and I want the airflow. Maybe I could cover the fencing under the house and just a few feet forward from the house with clear plastic? Just for winter.

Just struggling because it's so cold this year but I know it'll get hotter than the Devil's armpit again. Just wanting to modify a bit for a few months.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,573
27,032
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Would that be enough ventilation for overnight on below freezing nights?

1 square foot of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation per bird.

Night is when they need it most -- to remove the moisture that would accumulate while they're all shut in there pooping and breathing.

Having no natural shade in the only place I could put my coop while the house was being placed, I used a cheap picnic pavillion:

0717201917 (2).jpg
 

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