Insulation and ventiliation in Wisconsin

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by urbanfarmette, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. urbanfarmette

    urbanfarmette Chirping

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    We're thinking of getting some hens so I am checking out coop designs but I am wondering about keeping the coop cool enough in summer and warm enough in winter, all the while with good ventilation.

    If I put in two 12" square screened windows for cross ventilation, will that probably keep the coop cool enough in 90 degree weather during the day, max 80 degree nights?

    If I don't insulate but just make sure it's sealed up well with no drafts and give them 2x4s to roost on so they can sit on their feet and thick mulch on the floor, will that be enough for a month of 15 degree days with the occasional dip into the negatives at night?

    I would get a cold hardy breed but will they tolerate occasional 90 degree weather?

    If it's sealed up tight in winter, will their respiratory system suffer from lack of ventilation?

    Do you let your hens out to their run during the day on cold winter days?

    Oh and one more un-related question. Can they drink out of a bunny-type waterer (the kind that hangs on the wall with a metal spout)?

    Thanks for reading!

    Jessica
     
  2. gabbyscritters

    gabbyscritters Songster

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    Jessica, If you are starting from scratch do insualte and YES you need ventialtion! We have windows for the summer and ventalation panels covered with wire, we fully open them in summer and partially open in winter, they will frost bite if too much humidity builds up and you will get respitory problems. Make sure you have cross ventilation. Depending on coop size the windows seem small. Insualtion keeps heat less in summer and warmer in winter.
    We have 2x4's for our wisconsin coops.
    The bunny waters do not work for chickens and will freeze in winter, we just use heated dog bowls raised up on a wooden block to limit shavings and poop in the water.
    Our chickens will not venture out in any snow but will in cold, depends on their mood. The more brigth you can make your coop the happier your hens will be= more eggs.
    Remember always build a coop larger than you think you will need!
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Keep in mind that insulation helps both in cold AND hot weather - it's not just for the cold.
    But yes, most cold hardy breeds, given appropriate, draft free shelter with lots of bedding, will do fine in an uninsulated coop.
    You will still want ventilation in the winter, because you're right - shutting everything up super tight can definitely cause resp. problems. So you'll want ventilation up high (to allow warm, moist air from breathing and droppings) to escape even in cold weather. The best thing to do (imo) is to make LOTS of ventilation, but make it closeable by some means. Plexiglass screwed on over window openings (in winter) keep drafts out, while allowing the sun to heat the inside during the day.
    I open my pop door EVERY day of the year. But all of our days have been in the positives degree-wise. Not sure what I'd do if it went negative.
    Many people use the nipple water systems, which are probably similar to rabbit waterers. The issue in the winter of course will be them freezing up quicker (or I'd think) than a larger waterer system...
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  4. bantyhen'sfriend

    bantyhen'sfriend Songster

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    Our coop is uninsulated, and the chickens do fine. If you do insulate, be sure to cover it or the chickens will eat it. I would also adivse you to get birds that tolerate confinement quite well, because I have yet to have a chicken go outside in more than a half inch of snow. The more chickens you have, the warmer the coop will be, but you must also not go over the capacity your coop can hold.

    I would put vents up high under the eves, and then put in a screen door behind your regular door. The screen door will allow for better ventilation in the summer. Also, make two "flaps" or covers for your pop door, one solid and one made of wire. Use the wire one in teh summer, and the solid one in the winter.

    You may eventually, despite your best efforts, have to deal with frostbite on their combs. Do a search here on BYC about frostbite, and prepare yourself just in case.
     
  5. elmo

    elmo Crowing

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    With cold hardy breeds, I'd pay more consideration to making sure the coop doesn't get too hot in summer than worrying about cold in winter. Most chickens can handle cold far better than heat because of their down insulation.

    If your coop gets a lot of summer sun, it can get very hot inside. Either site it where it will be in the shade and/or consider radiant shield roofing as well as insulation to help limit heat buildup inside. It's useful to have extra ventilation down lower at roost level that you can have open for summer and then shut up for winter. Figure 1 square foot of vent per chicken as a rule of thumb, ideally high up at the top of one or more walls, so that you can leave it open or mostly open in winter; and then additional ventilation for summer.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Probably not (not unless coop is in shade). You need LOTS more ventilation than that. Unless it is a TEENY TINY coop (like 2x2x4) in which case it might be marginally-close-to-enough.

    If I don't insulate but just make sure it's sealed up well with no drafts and give them 2x4s to roost on so they can sit on their feet and thick mulch on the floor, will that be enough for a month of 15 degree days with the occasional dip into the negatives at night?

    You oughtn't "seal it up well", you get humidity -> frostbite that way. Need ventilation even when it is cold. Ideally ventilation would be located atop the downwind wall(s) and at the furthest point from the roost. Easier in larger coops than small ones, dunno what size yours will be?

    I would get a cold hardy breed but will they tolerate occasional 90 degree weather?

    With appropriate shade, sure.

    Do you let your hens out to their run during the day on cold winter days?

    Yup, they can make their own decisions about what to do.

    Oh and one more un-related question. Can they drink out of a bunny-type waterer (the kind that hangs on the wall with a metal spout)?

    Not in the winter when it's frozen [​IMG] Some chickens do learn to drink from nipple-type waterers, but you would need a Plan B for winter.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  7. urbanfarmette

    urbanfarmette Chirping

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    This is what I am thinking...

    My coop will probably be 4x4x4, elevated off of the ground about 2 ft. The 4x4 wouldn't include the nesting area which would be similar to this kind: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=20375-cottage-coop (link is only to show type of nest box with hatch, not coop design)

    Vents under the eaves which can be covered fully or partially (so I could cover them up during a blizzard, let's say).

    Windows on the other two sides as large as possible screened with hardware cloth and plexiglass covers for winter.

    Pop door on one side, clean-out door on the other. Clean out door would be large as possible too and have a hardware cloth screen that can cover it during summer.

    Walls made of plywood with 2x4 structure under. No unsulation.

    Cold-hardy breed.

    Wired for electricity so I can add light if needed and plug in for heated water bottle/bowl.

    2x4 roost. 2 nests. 3-4 hens.

    Thick pine mulch in coop for winter.

    Chicken wire run with dug in hardware cloth at bottom for security. Run would be 4ft wide, 6-8ft long, and 5ft tall at peak. It would be covered and come to a peak (looking down from one end, it would be "house-shaped") and roof could be covered with a tarp for shade in summer and to keep the snow for piling up too high in winter to encourage the girls to go out.

    I have a heated bunny water bottle so maybe I will see if that would work for watering in winter.

    Is there any reason not to make the bottom of the coop hinged for easy cleaning? I'm thinking it would be hinged in the front and I would unlatch it on the back and lower it to the ground. Then I could shovel the mulch and poop into my compost easily.

    Jessica
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Crowing

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    Quote:If you use chicken wire for your run, I don't think it will help much to have hardware cloth at the bottom of it. A raccoon would just climb up to the chickenwire and rip it apart to gain access to the run. Now, if you use welded wire with larger openings for the run, and something with smaller openings at the bottom to deal with "reach through" predation, then I think you're on to a workable plan.

    Some people do use chicken wire for their runs, knowing the risks, but judging that the risk of daytime predation (from dogs, for example) is low in their situation...like if they have a solid fenced yard. They plan to lock their chickens inside a secure, closed coop at night when predator risk is highest. It seems to me that this is also a workable plan. But if you use chicken wire, please be aware of its limitations. It keeps chickens inside, but about the only predator it keeps out are hawks.

    With respect to your hinged, drop floor idea, it seems to me that would be rather difficult to build and to actually use it. Much easier, I think, would be to have one whole wall of the coop open up for cleaning. Then you could just pull up a wheelbarrow next to the side, and rake the floor litter right out into the wheelbarrow. It's easy to build a side wall that opens up fully. Even I was able to do that, and I don't even dare use power tools other than a screwdriver!
     
  9. urbanfarmette

    urbanfarmette Chirping

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    Thanks ELMO, those are great suggestions. Do you know where to find welded wire? Would that be at a farm store (farm and fleet) or Home Depot/Menards? We live in the city and have a fenced in yard (only 4 ft high picket though). The only wild animals I have ever seen in our neighborhood are squirrels, bunnies, and hawks. We live in a commercial/industrial area.

    We do have neighbor dogs who are on the fiesty side. Bark a lot and such. Because our yard is small, the coop will be within 8 ft of the fence separating the dogs from the chickens. Has anyone tried blocking the view a little so the dogs won't go nuts every time they get let out? They are only ever let out supervised for short times by their owner but I was thinking of stapling up some landscaping cloth (or something else...canvas??) along the shared part of the fence so the dogs can't see the chickens. I know the dogs will still know their there but maybe the stress on both sides will be less?

    Jessica
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:I would not advise it. Chickenwire is NOT predatorproof. You may THINK you have no significant predators... but actually the biggest daytime threat to chickens is DOGS, and with just a 4' picket fence around your yard, there is really not much keeping a passing dog from going in and having a chicken dinner.

    Suggest either 1/2" hardwarecloth (Home Depot etc will have it, although they may not have it in the width you prefer; or feedstores/farm stores will have it, in lots of widths) or 1x1" welded wire mesh, or 2x4 welded wire mesh with something smaller-mesh added on the bottom 2-3' (feedstores/farm stores will have the welded wire, although some Home Depots etc carry it too... make sure you are getting heavy gauge livestock-type stuff, not anything labelled garden fencing, and avoid any 2x2 or 2x3 mesh because I have yet to see any that was not way too flimsy and garden-grade)

    Is there any reason not to make the bottom of the coop hinged for easy cleaning? I'm thinking it would be hinged in the front and I would unlatch it on the back and lower it to the ground. Then I could shovel the mulch and poop into my compost easily.

    There is really no reason to do that. It is an unnecessasry complication and likely not to work nearly as neatly as you are thinking.

    What DOES make for quick cleanout of a small raised coop like you're planning is to have an access hatch in one side open out FLUSH WITH THE FLOOR (i.e. no sill or anything else sticking up there, when the door is open) and room to stick the side or nose of a wheelbarrow just underneath it. Then you simply scrape all the bedding out into the wheelbarrow using a hoe, rake, drywall taping knife, whatever. And there ya go.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     

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