Insulating the coop.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Raggedyroad, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Raggedyroad

    Raggedyroad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a 5' x 5' coop that was built from an old coop or dog house that the previous owner left behind. It was basically just an empty wooden box with one door and no roof. It was totally out of square and needed a ton of revisions and is still out of square but we made it work. Nothing is insulated or sealed. The walls are old 3/4" particle board and the floor is 2" x 6" pine. We added a nesting box made from 1/2" plywood. The particle board walls get wet every time it rains. Should the walls be sealed and what is safe? The floor has small spaces between each board. Should we put a solid piece of wood over the floor to keep out insects and cold drafts? The roof we added is just corrugated plastic.

    I installed 2 vents at the top back wall and one at the top of the front wall. They face E and W. There are 2 doors on the coop, one on the back facing west and one on the south side. I keep the doors open during the day for further ventilation. They are of course secured each night and heads are counted.

    This will be the first winter for our six full sized hens and three 8 week old pullets. We've had 2 mornings in the past week in which their water has been frozen. We had planned to insulate the coop but haven't had the money or time till now. We are kind of at a loss as to how to go about adding insulation without having to nearly re-build the coop. We are new to chickens and even though I have read a lot of articles and searched for information on BYC we still feel out of our element at times. I need suggestions for insulation and advice on how much ventilation is needed. We figure we should insulate the roof at the very least since it's only corrugated plastic attached to a wooden frame. Also is it a good or bad idea to leave both doors open during the day when the temperatures are below freezing?

    As you can see in the pictures I also propped the roof open during the warm weather.
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    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    You will need to ensure you've enough venting. If corners weren't sealed and no insulation the building will draw in enough air to replace vented air out. Putting vents along the top of each roof end would provide forced flow of air Sucked in low roof end) to circulated with moisture and gas at ceiling line and push out high end of roof pitch. I don't know how large your vents are but think you need more.

    Anything you paint your coop with will work as long as it's an exterior grade product. I like quick and easy stain. As there is no need for primer and in years to come there is no need for scraping before applying another coat or two. Just hose ans wash walls, let dry and brush and roll. Exterior stain comes in wood tones that only need none coat but don't last very long, semi transparent that also only is applied one coat and looks antiqued as the pigment is meant to be washed looking. Color and black mottling. Then solid color is a two coat longest lasting. Grab a gallon water based stain of your choice of wood tone or any color under the sun and have at it. It's the fumes that are harmful but your only staining the exterior and doing so outside. Water born stain will dry to touch in hour and be completely dry in day.

    For winter you should put up a few tarps around your run. Figure where the prevailing winter wind will come from then wrap a corner and good length of connecting wall with two tarps. All the chickens need is wind break, shoveled snow from run, thin layer of hay in run if it gets icy, fresh water (heated water fountain or other method) and a well ventilated coop to sleep in. Your about 3sqft per bird in coop, they will to be outside everyday excepting the coldest mornings. I open the coop door every morning and give them the option though keep feed and water in run. On coldest mornings of -30F I'll toss handfuls of sunflower seed in the coop to hold them over. They come out when it warms up to -10F.
     
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    My opinion on insulation is it's not needed in cold climates. The thought there is it is a small heat increase once the proper amount of ventilation is cut out. Where insulation really is needed is southern climates on the roof to repel solar overheating. You'll find that birds do quite well in cold but suffer and die in extreme heat. I'm in climate zone 3a. No heat, no insulation and my birds are outside everyday. Excepting the already noted -30F mornings but those are the mornings you only hear the crunching of foot falls while trekking to your car as all the animals are hunkered down with fur and feather puffed out. Nothing is moving or making a sound, it's eerie. Then you find your car doesn't want to get going either.

    With 3 sqft per bird that's not enough space to close birds in for days at a time. They'll be much happier with no behavior problems if you manage them for outside everyday. That way feed and water can stay out of the coop. Heated water and water in coop in general I don't like. Get's dirty with bedding and just adds to moisture in coop which is what causes frost bite. Without moisture there is no frost. Good ventilation moves the moisture from birds droopings and breathing out before it freezes on their combs. One thing that will happen if you keep cock birds is there wattles will freeze from drinking water. Basically they self dub their wattle. Thinking of moving to bucket with nipples and small livestock water heater in it for that reason. It doesn't hinder them, much like rubber bands to make gelding but is a little unsightly until the extra wattle drops off. Single comb cock birds due to huge comb and small points will loose the tips there too. Never had a hen loose any comb tips, just cock birds.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
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  4. grandma7

    grandma7 Out Of The Brooder

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    midwest, we can go for several days at a time with -0 temps, then add extreme windchill and we are in the 20 below for 3-4 days at a time.
    My coop is insulated, but has 3 8x8 vents for good ventilation. I clean under my roost bars everyday.
    My big dilemma is water this winter.
    Noticed water with ice in it this morning, and that's at 30 degree low.
    Was gonna try 2 gallon thermos with nipple waterers for inside. Food is always inside to keep rodents down.
    another idea is a cottage cheese container screw on sidewall. I would put another smaller container inside, that could be changed out frequently with clean and unfrozen water.
    New at this and learning everyday.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  5. ksguy

    ksguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Honestly I would not worry about insulating it. If you have the proper ventilation, the air will be turning over enough that I really don't think there will be time for any warmth to build up. What I would instead spend the money on is proper siding. Even painted or stained that chip board siding will degrade extremely quickly - I think you'll be lucky to get a year out of it in moist weather - the adhesive is not designed to withstand water. Get yourself a couple sheets of T1-11 siding at your favorite home improvement store and fasten that over the chipboard (used galvanized nails or deck screws), then paint that and all of the trim, and don't forget to paint the edges. Lowe's and Home Depot both sell "barn paint" in white and red that is inexpensive and will last quite some time.

    Also I really like the idea of the clear roof in winter. Sunlight will be allowed in and give you a bit of a greenhouse effect during the day if the birds want to sit in there and bask in the sunlight and out of any wind. Leaving it open like that in the summer ought to be enough to keep heat from building up too much.
     
  6. Raggedyroad

    Raggedyroad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the feedback. As far as the roof is concerned, unfortunately it's not clear. It's tan and totally opaque. No sun will come through. We will work on all the suggestions next weekend. That's the soonest we will have the opportunity.
     
  7. ksguy

    ksguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah, when I read corrugated plastic I assumed it was the clear stuff. Now that I take a closer look at the pictures I see what you mean.

    Good luck with the upgrades!
     
  8. Raggedyroad

    Raggedyroad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The vents are approximately 3" x 15". One at the east roof line and two at the west roof line.

    There is another concern that I didn't think of until reading the reply from grandma7. I have been trying to do the deep bed method and my concern is the moisture from the droppings. I use diatomateous earth to help with moisture and I stir up their bedding a couple times a week. I just measured my coop and it is actually 4' x 5'. Since I have 6 full size hens and three 8 week old pullets that will be full size before spring, is the moisture level going to be too high? That's about 3/4 square ft short per hen. My hens are completely free to a large area during the day but of course secured in their coop at night. I do realize now that they will also spend more time in the coop during the day through the winter and I didn't even think about the longer nights.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  9. Raggedyroad

    Raggedyroad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're idea of the extra sunlight in the winter is a good one. It has me thinking I may want to switch it out. We have also been looking for a narrow used window to put on the south side so that the sun can peak through to warm up the coop. So far no luck with anything suitable.
     
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I used a 14x14 piece of plexiglass over a 12x12 cut opening. Predrill holes to screw on the plexi, drill slow so it doesn't crack. I also put a piece of tape over where I was drilling. Cost was about $5 for plexi cut to size at local hardware store.
     

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