Insulate or don't insulate coops in Nova Scotia ? ? ?

Nova Scotia

In the Brooder
5 Years
Aug 7, 2014
Nova Scotia
Folks, I need your help please.
We have a beautiful coop built this summer by my husband. The coop is 10x12 barn style. It has chip board on all sides and 1x4x12 spruce tongue and grove on the outside and asphalt shingles on the roof. One new window in the back. It is not insulated.
The nesting boxes will be on the left, that is the east side. The window is facing south where 95% of our wind comes from the south.

My husband doesn't think it needs to be insulated, but I am worried about our girls. It will get wicket cold here this winter. We always have a cold snap. Last year we had 2. The windchill can be as low as -30C (-22F). That should be the lowest the temperature would be. (It was -33C one or 2 days last winter). It would not be unusual for it to be -8 to-12 C (12-17F) for weeks.

I am going to put hay all around the bottom of the coop to block the wind from blowing under the coop.

Any and all help and suggestions you can give uswill be appreciated. You can see pics of the coop in my profile.

18 RIR girls and 1 Rooster Max.


Michael OShay

5 Years
May 14, 2014
Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided to join our flock. I would definitely insulate the coop, and put the hay around the bottom of it. Just be sure and put some type of vents just below the eaves of the roof for good ventilation in order to prevent moisture from collecting on the ceiling and dripping into the coop. BYC has some good articles on coop ventilation, and keeping the coop warm in winter at and, repectively. I would not put any kind of heater in it as they can cause a fire to start in the coop. The key is to make sure that your coop is draft free with good ventilation and dry. Feathers are excellent insulators and moisture is a much greater threat to your chickens than cold. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck in winterizing your coop.


BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Mar 21, 2011
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

I am not a fan of insulation really in any climate. The reason being is that chickens need to go outside every day if possible, even on those cold winter days. If the temp inside the coop is too much warmer than the outside air, they will be stuck inside the coop all winter. This can cause all kinds of health and respiratory ailments. There are people here in Alaska that keep their birds in uninsulated coops, no extra heat, no electricity, nothing. If your birds are allowed to acclimate to the outside temps as fall turns to winter, they can survive brutally cold temps. Just make sure all holes and cracks are sealed up around the roost bar. Have them roost low to the floor with plenty of space between the bar and the eaves or ceiling. Install venting in your eaves or ceiling at 1 square foot per bird. There is a lot of moisture from all the pooping and the breathing and it needs to go somewhere. It's natural tendency will be to rise and with proper venting, it will go up and out your vents. Without good venting, this moisture is going to fall back down on your birds as water or frost and can give them frost bite.

Now, if the over night temp plans on getting 30 or 40 degrees colder than your AVERAGE over night low, then you might consider putting up a heat lamp until the temps return to their average over night low temp. You are not trying to heat the coop, but you are only trying to warm the air around the birds a bit more. The birds themselves put out heat and create a bubble of air around them. So if you can bring that temp up 10 degrees, the birds will be more comfortable. Always permanently attach all heat lamps to the wall or ceiling. And never rely on that clamp as they can fall and start a fire.

You can also tack on old towel to the roost bar in the early winter. Chickens lose heat through the feet. So warm feet mean warmer birds.

Enjoy this new adventure you are on and we do welcome you to our flock!


Mar 25, 2014
Canby, Oregon
It looks like you have just the one window? Will it be closed when it gets cold? In either case it looks like very little ventilation so insulation will likely help retain some heat. Which in my opinion is unnecessary.
Seems to me your real problem is lack of ventilation. You need to worry about moisture levels in there, not cold temperatures. Moisture will kill your birds more easily than the cold. Judging the best I can from your pictures and descriptions, it seems you're wanting to seal your chickens inside there with no exposure to outside air. This is the wrong approach.

People keep chickens in regions as cold as yours with one side of the coop completely open to the weather, just covered with wire mesh.

I love your construction by the way, awesome build. If it were mine I would install some major rainproof ventilation along the roof peak. Or windows on opposing sides of the 12' dimension. I would also put some higher roosting bars as your chickens would surely love that. Maybe a pair of 10' 2x4's simply laid across the coop on top of those horizontal 2x4's I see in the picture.


5 Years
Jun 8, 2014
Long Island, NY
Welcome to BYC!

You will find a lot of good information here. Keep on asking questions and you will get many good answers.

You may also want to read the FAQ below.


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jun 15, 2014
Smithton, Missouri
Nice building, good luck. First I WOULD NOT block the airflow under the coop. Once you restrict the air flow you WILL buildup moisture which WILL freeze and deteriorate the floor and the floor will actually be colder than if it were left open. I would add 12 inches (or more) of wood chips (pine) in the floor to compensate. No accumulation of moisture, no ice buildup on the floor. It sounds as if you have enough wall to block the wind, key factor (still air), no drafts.........usually a 100 watt light bulb (NOT flourescent) in a structure this size will provide all the heat needed plus it will give them the light they require for laying through the winter. A cheap thermostat can be installed to turn the light on or off as temperature dictates. Heat sounds good, but poultry survived for several millenia before coops were invented.....Feed, "(WATER)" and a draft free roost and everything "should" be OK. I live in west central Missouri and we can get some serious cold here on occassion, nothing like Nova Scotia and for not as prolonged a period, but when it gets to zero for a couple of days it's still zero.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Insulation on walls and roofs exposed to direct sun can actually help keep a coop cooler in hot sunny can help in frigid climates but is not necessary.

Blocking wind from under the coop with hay bales in frigid climates is a good idea, leaving part of the leeward side open is good for ventilation of any moisture underneath might be a good idea.

Using a 100 watt bulb in that big of a building in that climate for heat is waste of electricity....zeroF for a couple days is nothing like zeroF for weeks on end.
That heat lamp scares the heck out of me...get it out of there.

2x4 roosts, wide side up, will keep their feet warm. 4 - 6" of pine shavings on the floor will keep things dry and insulated.

That nice high roof will be great to put ventilation up high...not sure that type of roof will be easy to ventilate tho.

Michael OShay linked 2 great articles to help you figure out how to make improvements.

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