Is my setup sufficient for the winter?


10 Years
Jan 14, 2013
Cumberland, RI
Hi there!
This is my first winter raising chickens. I have 5 hens - speckled sussex, easter egger, buff orpington, buff brahma and barred plymouth rock. I have done a lot of reading on their requirements for colder weather. I live in Rhode Island. It hasn't been too cold yet, however we're expecting nightime temps in the teens along with snow later this week. I just want to make sure my setup will keep them safe and comfortable during these nighttime low temps. The coop is not insulated or heated. I have read many articles that say not to heat the coop and that as long as you have adequate ventilation, they will be fine. We put a piece of plexiglass covering all of the hardware cloth window except for 2 inches for ventilation. The inside of the coop seems dry so far and no condensation. We put plastic sheeting on 2 sides of the run to block some wind. We have a heated water bowl in the run. Just looking for another experienced chicken owner in my area or a similar climate to let me know if there is anything else I should do to make sure my girls are comfortable in these low temps. I've attached photos of my set up. Thanks in advance!


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I'd add plastic sheeting to the third side, and leave the south (leeward?) side open. You might decide to cover the lower half or two thirds of the fourth side too, depending on how things develop. Do you get southeasters? Those type of storms might work better with most of all four sides partially protected.
See how your coop/ run actually work, and you'll know.
If possible I'd leave that coop window uncovered, if you've blocked wind and weather by the sheet vinyl on the run walls.
I'd also add wood strips, screwed in, over the staples holding your hardware cloth. Here we also have 2"x 4" woven wire over the hardware cloth 4' up from the ground. Big dogs! We don't have bears, but make it secure from every possible local predator.
Is your run dig-proof?
Hi Mary,
Thanks! We get northeasters and are forecasted for one on Wednesday night. 6-12" of snow, winds, temps in teens. We were thinking of putting plastic sheeting or tarps around the other side as well at least just to get thru this storm. The hardware cloth is buried over a foot underground on all sides. We added the plexiglass as it was getting colder. That window is normally open in more mild weather. So it can be easily removed. I was just afraid it would be too drafty bc they roost almost level with that window. So I thought the ventilation should be above their heads hence the plexiglass with a couple inches open on top. So you agree not to add heat? We have a generator so if power went out, we'd be able to keep the heat on in the coop. But I agree almost everything I've read says not to add heat. I just feel bad it will be so cold.
I don't heat my coop, just the water so it doesn't freeze. I'd add sheet vinyl to the open sides of your run, leaving the top foot or so open for ventilation. My coop is a walk-in building, very different from yours, and it takes some time to figure out what works best. Definitely things are too closed in if there's condensation! You could buy a combination thermometer/ hygrometer, and see what numbers you get in that coop.
True confessions: this year I finally bought two of them, set up in different sections of my coop, and it's been interesting so far. My original coop section is a bit more humid than ambient, not terrible, but I'd like to even it out a bit more. Ventilation without breezes blowing through the roosting birds. Hummm..
Good suggestion - yes I think you're right, we will have to experiment a bit. Definitely adding some plastic sheeting to the other sides. Thanks again!
Thank you! My husband and I built it. We let them free range too but only when we're out in the yard as we have foxes and hawks. Yes they all seem to be quite happy roosting in there. They go right in at night and snuggle up next to each other with room to spare. We put more plastic up on the bottom half of the front side today to shield the wind and snow. Any other thoughts or advice on how to keep them comfortable? Thanks!
I'm in CT so also anticipating the storm tonight. My first winter with five girls, too. I agree with everyone's advice. Just keep monitoring condensation in the coop and clean out the poop daily. Your run is beautiful, I'm jealous of your skills. I'm happy with my set up, but opted to purchase it. Below is the set up with goofy holiday lights. Let us know how the flock fares with the snow.

holiday lights on run.jpg

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