Insulating a coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by markmc, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. markmc

    markmc Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 24, 2010
    Cedaredge, Colorado
    I am new to the whole chicken thing and am in the process of designing our coop. I keep reading about in cold climates you need to have an insulated coop so the chickens keep laying all winter. Is this insulation like insulating a house with fiberglass batts in the walls and ceiling and if so do you need to cover them with plywood or drywall etc.. in order to keep the chickens from pecking at the insulation. I know it is a strange question but all the coops I have seen around here have just plywood walls but I dont really feel like spending a million dollars on heating a chicken coop for 5chickens. It gets pretty cold around here (Cedaredge, Colorado)--this am is 17 degrees. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.
  2. possumqueen

    possumqueen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2009
    Monroe, North Carolina
    go to patandchickens in the user list, pull up her profile, and click on her big ol' ventilation page. She's in Canada, and she has made a really informative page there.

    Then go to the top of the page and click on coop design, and tour some of the coops that would fit your weather patterns.

    You can see that I'm in the south, where we get really cold for a few days or weeks every year, so insulation isn't one of our priorities. But ventilation is far more important than insulation any way you look at it. [​IMG]

    Gosh! I almost forgot! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    My ventilation page and cold coop page (the latter has more info on insulation, if I recall correctly) are in links below in my .sig, too [​IMG]

    If single digits F is what passes for "cold" in your neck of the woods, there is no particular pressure to insulate unless you have unusually cold-sensitive breeds or want to run a heat lamp (although you should NOT need to). However, insulating can make things pleasanter and easier to manage, so if you happen to feel like it and run across the materials it IS a useful thing to do.

    You can use fiberglass batts but if so you'd better be sure you have a real dry coop with no roof or wall leaks and no humidity problem. I like rigid foamboard insulation best for most (not all) applications; styrofoam board is ok too, and sometimes pieces can be gotten for free from stores that recieved them as packaging for merchandise. Regular styrofoam board makes more of a horrible mess if mice get into it than foamboard does though.

    Yes, you need to cover the insulation with something peck-proof, most people use thin plywood or scrap panelling but there are other options. And your carpentry needs to be TIGHT -- no gaps or cracks anywhere -- to discourage mice from finding out what a nice habitat that is inside the wall there.

    With insulation, in a moderately-cold or cold winter climate, you will be able to have more ventilation open more of the time (better air quality) without cooling the coop as much. And if you should be one of the people who runs a heat lamp, whether or not it is strictly necessary does not matter here, you will be able to use a lower wattage and/or have it on less of the time, both of which will save you money AND reduce risk of fire.

    That said, unless you have unusually frost-sensitive breeds you can certainly go without insulation. You do need good ventilation all winter though. Don't be tempted to shut the coop up tight to try to retain heat, that results in humid air and thereby frostbite at relatively mild temperatures.

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. SillyChicken

    SillyChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 12, 2010
    Hi Markmc,

    I'm in the same spot you're in, only in Michigan. In reading some of the posts and checking out other coops out, you should cover the insulation with something to keep the birds from getting into it. From what I have learned they're generally very curious, and will peck at anything they think could be food. Plus it would hold up better, won't get wet and be easier to clean etc.

    I'm going to use the exterior rated rigid 2" (blue) foam in my walls/ceiling, and then cover the inside walls and ceiling with either exterior rated 1/4" plywood, and then paint it. I wouldn't use fiberglass batted insulation unless your coop is well sealed from moisture on the outside.

    The most important thing is proper ventilation, which is probably more than either of us think it should be. It will off gas any waste fumes, keep dust and moisture down.

    You can also use a 250 W red heat lamp for added warmth, but make sure you secure the heck out of it so you don't burn your coop down!

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong please!
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Be sure you have a way to control rodents before insulating with anything. Our system works because of a cat colony we support- they have to go 1/4 mile to get a rodent...

    but you can see hat we did in the link. The tuck tape is important because once you install the vapor seal you want it to be a barrier not a trap for moisture. Also, if you insulate, plan for your ventilation and install the openings, grates and/or fittings first.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  6. Hillsvale

    Hillsvale Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 20, 2009
    Hillsvale, Nova Scotia
    I'm with Linda (LynneP) on this... I just finished the better part of my coop and I insulated just like one would a house.... we are in a climate "4" and it gets darn chilly here... I followed what Linda and Pat and chickens do because our climates are similar.... heck Linda even gives me the weather reports for the drive home! (She is my neighbour) [​IMG]

  7. chickbotfamily

    chickbotfamily Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 16, 2009
    I live in Wisconsin and have an insulated coop. The walls and ceiling are insulated but I do have lot of ventilation. The walls are covered with plywood. The gables and the roof peak are open but are secure with hardware cloth to keep vermin out. Also I use the deep litter method and have about 6-7 inches of pine shaving on the floor. I also have a large 4 x 4 foot window facing south that warms the coop through the day. Currently the coop stays about 7-10 degrees warmer than the outside temp.

    Regarding Heating the coop. I have 2 chickens and only heat the coop if I know that the temp in the coop is going to be below 0 degrees. A couple of weeks ago the outside temp was -3 but the coop was 6 degrees and the girls were fine with no heat. I make sure that they have plenty of food and also that their water is not frozen. I use a heated dog bowl. Also I give them a little scratch with their snack to also keep them warm.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  8. Chieftain

    Chieftain Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 21, 2009
    This has been my experiment in insulating a's a relatively small coop and run for five hens. the coop is 20 sq ft ( not including the external nest boxes) and the covered run is 50 sq.ft.

    In short, I framed the walls from 2x2 lumber, then lined the inner walls with inexpensive 3/8" CDX plywood. I cut panels of 1 1/2" styrofoam hard insulation, then covered that with inexpensive 1/2" CDX plywood.

    I have taken the time to all of the seal the seams and cracks on the inside walls with paintable caulk, prime everything thoroughly with Kilz primer, then painted it in and out with different paint as apprpriate. I have seen many references here at BYC from Pat and others about controlling roost mites that way. and it is easy to do from scratch.

    My theory is that in the summer the walls will not transmit heat into the coop, and in the winter they will not lose heat as rapidly. Certainly the coop is draftproof, and even though we don't have the extremes of cold that many BYC members are experiencing, we do get some pretty hot weather here in the summer. It is my understanding that more chickens die of heat than from freezing to death, so anything you can do to keep them cool is definitely in order in my book.

    I found a design I liked here at BYC, and modified it to my liking on my sketchpad, and built it in my head a couple of times before I set the first post. Take what you like from what i have done and build on it...

  9. TcherDawn

    TcherDawn Granite State Chook

    Jan 30, 2009
    Prescott, AZ
    We have 5 hens in a 8x10' coop and insulated because I know how bitterly cold it can get here in NH, and I wanted to use a minimal amount of heat. The insulation keeps the heater running at a bare minimum, and keeps the girls very happy and comfortable. They choose not to go out on cold days, so I guess they don't like the cold. I am in this for the long haul, so building a good workable insulated coop in the very first place is something we are glad we did. I have lots of insulation pics on my coop page. Here is one:
  10. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Fiberglass Batts here. Inner walls of plywood, sealed at the corners and painted. No regrets.

    Like LynneP mentioned earlier, make sure you ventilate GENEROUSLY before you seal up the walls. You can always close it up if you don't need it. I've seen lots of posts here on the BYC of folks who insulated well but didn't ventilate properly. They ended up with moisture problems and had to cut into those sealed walls. Never fun.

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