Insulation needed for winter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nposluszny, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. nposluszny

    nposluszny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello everyone! My mother and I are just about ready to begin construction of our coop (we plan on having 6-7 hens when all is said and done) and there is a bit of concern in regards to the winter temperatures here in Upstate New York. It often reaches -20 here in winter, so my thought was to sandwich some 1' pink rigid insulation between the interior and exterior walls of the main structure, so the hens wouldn't see it/peck at it. From everything I have read here and in my copy of Living With Chickens, the 1" sounds like it would be more than enough but my Mom thinks they will freeze their butts off and wants the coop insulated with...well, pretty much the thickest stuff she sees at Home Depot. Any thoughts? I understand the need for ventilation and after reviewing all of the coops members have posted here, I have some great ideas in the works for roofing vents as well as hole spacing. It would be worth noting that the coop will be more of a "tractor" style and will be moved into a large "cold storage" garage, where the hens will be out of the winter winds and yet get lots of natural light.

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Well, I live in Northern Wyoming and my chickens thrive in their unheated, uninsulated coop. I have operable windows that are always opened on the downwind side (and here winds in excess of 60+ mph are not unusual) plus lots of other openings that we leave year round. A couple of things to think about:

    That kind of wall setup provides a lovely place for mice to move in and live happily right between them.

    Insulation is great if the space is heated and you are trying to keep the heat in. But since you aren't trying to keep a "room" at 70 degrees, it really does little except hold in moisture, and moisture is the worst enemy in chicken keeping.

    You chickens will come with a down and feather coat that most of us pay a fortune for. Comfy when the temps are really low, but miserable when it's warmer. I've picked up chickens in sub-zero temps and buried my hands under their feathers.....it's down right cozy next to their skin! Their "coats" do a remarkable job of trapping heat right where they need it. They already have the very best in insulation right where they need it.

    The key to keeping chickens in cold climates is ventilation, and lots of it. You need place for moist air to leave the coop. Moisture settles on combs and wattles and causes frostbite. So you want your coop to have as many openings as possible without them getting a direct draft on them when they are roosting. A direct draft is one that actually ruffles those feathers and lets that trapped warm air escape. A coop that is tightly closed up is a recipe for disaster - moisture and ammonia will build to unhealthy levels in no time at all.

    Go back to that down coat you spent a month's wages on....keeps you so cozy in winter, but if the zipper breaks and the trapped air gets out, you're an instant icicle! And that coat is worthless wet. So keeping your chickens dry and out of direct wind is key.

    In the beginning I was going to insulate my coop too. @JackE and I actually got into quite a heated discussion about it. But he was absolutely right! His coop is totally open on one side...it's gorgeous and his birds thrive. I'll post a link so you can take a look.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/445004/woods-style-house-in-the-winter

    In the end you have to do what you think is right. But I took the advice of a seasoned chicken keeper and haven't regretted it yet.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
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  3. rjc2rjc

    rjc2rjc Out Of The Brooder

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    My father used foam insulation in his coop years ago. He said it was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made. At one point he went out closed the coop and stomped 27 mice that ran out between the walls. He still had mice badly afterwards. Until he took down the insulation..
    best bet is to leave out the insulation.
     
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  4. brucewayne

    brucewayne Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]
    To summarize: cold weather isn't a problem. The problem is cold, wet air. So have ventilation. That introduces another potential problem of a draft. Yet, as long as wind isn't hitting the chickens, you're good.

    And yes, even in cold weather, the body of a chicken is amazingly warm. [​IMG]
     
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  5. nposluszny

    nposluszny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you everyone! My Mom and I have read this and it really seems to make a lot of sense. I have heard much about avoiding cold, moist air in the coop but it is a comfort to know that they don't need insulation - Mom kept thinking they'd freeze.
     
  6. nposluszny

    nposluszny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No more mice, lol! We already have enough of those out here, don't need to give them even more reason to come here.
     
  7. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG]






    I am subject to -40º weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do

    "NOT"


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not discard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.

    [​IMG]

    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
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  8. birds4kids

    birds4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the number one mistake we see newbies want to make is trying to insulate a building that needs ventilation, if vented there is not enough heat to bother trying to retain, and if there is enough heat you aren't venting enough moisture. The weight of accommodations for insulation is a concern with a tractor too.

    The idea of moving them into a cold storage building is questionable too, just keep the coop out of the wind. The cold storage building will likely stay cold later into the morning potentially exposing them to longer cold than if the morning sun hit the coop direct. A friend keeps his layers in sheds within a barn all winter and sees more comb frostbite than mine do out in the open with just the coop for protection.
     
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  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Excellent point! I'd never even thought of that!
     
  10. nposluszny

    nposluszny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I apologize for more-than-likely not getting the format of this forum posting right, I'm running about right now. Yes, predator proofing is a huge concern and all of my coop plans make sure to cover it. We have fishers, ermine, cats, foxes, etc (all the fun nasty things) out here so making sure the hens are safe is a huge concern. I have rolls of 1/4" hardware cloth just ready to go and will be using washers and screws to secure, instead of staples. Construction and remodels are my line of work and I do have a habit of overbuilding. I have been reviewing coops that some members here have posted and it has not escaped my attention that virtually none of them have insulation.


    And the cold storage building is a 25' x 60' .....not quite a garage but it wi;l be the only way to keep them out of the winds....as for air flow in there, it is super ventilated (I'm not saying it needs all new siding and that the windows need panes....but it does)


    I'll be happy to save the money and spend it elsewhere for my hens. :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016

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