Looking for advice for my coop, first winter--UPDATE of changes made

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Tangeygirl, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. Tangeygirl

    Tangeygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi everyone! I've been a chicken mama for about 3 months now and am loving my 4 girls! It's getting cooler here in CT and pretty soon the snow will be falling. I'm looking for some ideas and advice on how to get my coop in good order for the Winter months. Any help is greatly appreciated!!!!

    The coop is a very large dog house set up off the ground with a enclosed run around it. The chickens use the ramp and "dog" door to go into the coop to roost at night and to lay their eggs in their nesting boxes during the day. At the current time, there is no actual door that closes over the dog door. Thinking this is a necessary change with Winter coming.

    Our egg door is HUGE...my parents helped build our coop and while this wasn't my original idea for an egg door, it's worked out well for collecting eggs and for cleaning out the coop. I don't think drafts are an issue with the door because of the way the dog house was originally designed (2x4's, T-11 and insulation) - the way the egg door was cut, it butts up against wood, so it doesn't swing all the way in...if that makes any sense.

    As of now, the coop has no ventilation. I know that I need to put some in. I'm concerned about where their roost is vs. where I can put vents in. I know I don't want the air blowing directly on the girls and am wondering where I should put the vents so air won't blow directly on them.

    I'm thinking of putting tarps over the top of the run for the Winter to help keep snow out of their run but then I worry about them not having enough sunshine for them. Also, right now we put their feed under the coop and their waterer is out in the run. Do I need to move these into coop for the Winter or leave them just as they are?

    Thanks so much for taking a look, hopefully I can get some good ideas from you wonderful BYC'rs [​IMG]

    [​IMG] A view of the coop & run. That side door on the coop is their only access and it doesn't have a door on it to close - thinking should add one to close up at night once they've gone in to roost

    [​IMG] The egg door closed

    [​IMG] The egg door open - see how the door butts up on boards, thinking less of a draft because of that. Also, see the roost...the coop is at an angle. The highest point is at the egg door, the lowest point is at the roost. Maybe vents on the left and the right sides of the coop by the egg door that way there's no direct air flow onto my girls but ventilation?

    *edited to change title
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

  3. Tangeygirl

    Tangeygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks ChickensAreSweet, that link was super helpful for my ventilation issue!!! [​IMG]
  4. gavinandallison

    gavinandallison Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2010
    Matthews, NC.
    Also, if you place bales of straw on the north facing side of the coop and run, this will also provide a break from the cold winds. We built a run approx the same size as yours, but have added a larger run and are now enclosing the original run to turn it into their henhouse...... Have a look at my page to see what we have done.....
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    YOu might also check out my 'cold coop' page (link in .sig below) for some ideas on winterizing your coop and managing it during the winter.

    You have two (reasonable) options for ventilation IMO. One would be to leave your roost where it is now, and put a long narrow vent along the top of the highest wall, perhaps 6" high by nearly the length of that wall. With an adjustable flap to close the vent down partway as conditions require, that could work okay.

    Or, if you think there is room, you could rebuild the roost so it runs at right angles to what it is now, as far towards one end of the coop as space permits, and then put a triangular vent (preferably louvered) at the top of the opposite gable end. Again with a flap or other arrangement for adjusting how open the vent is, according to weather. The main disadvantage of this would be that the vent can't be as large, so it might also be wise to add some vent along the top of the high wall *too* IMO although you might end up closing at least the half that is above the roost on some cold nights in winter.

    The decision of which plan to follow might come down to the orientation of the coop -- you will probably want the vents to be (at least mainly) on the south side, if at all possible, since that is the side that coldest winds and most-driving snow least-often come from.

    Whether to tarp the roof of the run depends on whether the structure is strong enough to support the resulting snowload. It may well not be. It is better to have snow in the run than a *collapsed* run!

    Putting plastic around some (BUT NOT ALL) of the sides of the run is not a bad idea.... but don't use tarps if you can help it, use translucent plastic (e.g. the 6mil stuff they sell for vapor barrier). That way you still get light and warmth. DO NOT WRAP THE WHOLE RUN though, leave AT LEAST HALF A LONG SIDE open (or one short end), otherwise you get major major condensation/humidity problems.

    I would suggest trying to figure out if you can fit their food and water into the coop for the winter, because if you leave food out you WILL develop a major rat (and/or other rodent) problem, and it is much easier to keep water thawed in the coop than outdoors. But you may need to be clever about it since it is a very "compact" coop.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. Tangeygirl

    Tangeygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks so much, you've given me some great ideas!!! I'll keep my eye on this thread and keep researching. Looks like this Saturday we'll start our winterizing [​IMG]
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    I think you could vent at either the top of the existing door or at the top of the adjoining walls at that end. Either way would let out the warmer, more humid air in the winter that rises to the roof, without putting your chickens in a draft while they're roosting at night. Adjustable venting is always great, when you live in a climate with variable weather.

    Is some of your run covered in just chicken wire? I would also put a different latch on your coop door that would keep out a raccoon, if it got into the run at night.

    I like having a covered run in the winter. My chickens enjoy having less snow in the run and I like not having to shovel, just so the chickens can get out of the coop in the morning. You do have to have adequate support for the snow load. I think your chickens will still get plenty of light from the sides of the run, even if you cover the top. In the winter, we also get a lot of reflected light off of the snow. On bright days, I feel bad they don't have sunglasses in the run. [​IMG]
  8. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We're building our second coop and you can see it here


    Very similar winters.

    If you install vents you can choose ones that can be opened and closed to give more options.
    If you're afraid of snow drift, it's possible to build a baffle wall on the windward side or even use snow boards on the run or stack bales of straw just beyond .
  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:You are welcome!
  10. Tangeygirl

    Tangeygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    An update [​IMG]

    Some things I didn't mention in my original post - the run is VERY predator proof. There is chickenwire and hardware cloth all around the bottom portion of the run that goes 1 foot deep into the ground as well as having hardware cloth that is nailed down completely over the entire run floor. The door to the run has two "locks" and the door fits very snug - I often have a hard time opening it for several days after a rainstorm as the wood swells. The top sides and the actual "roof" of the run are covered in chicken wire. There are 2x4's running across the top of the run for added sturdiness. The chicken wire is actually laid over the entire run and then over each 2x4 another 2x4 was placed for added security. The run is shut and locked every night when the girls go in after free-ranging. The coop inside the run is a very solid, insulated structure. While it may be "compact" - it is appx 4'x4' - 16 SF, I only have 4 girls so it's the perfect size for them. The egg door had just a piece of wood that you would turn to lock it. This piece of wood is very tight to the coop and it's a pain for me to open - not really intentional but it is secure. Maybe I'm delusional, but I really don't think I need to worry about the egg door as it would be a Houdini predator if anything ever got into the run at night.

    Yesterday my dad came over (I'm so not good with power tools!) and he made some great improvements to the coop and I'm feeling really good about the upcoming winter. Because the coop itself is so "thick" T-11, insulation, 3/4" plywood - putting in ventillation in the walls was something he wanted to avoid. He put in an adjustable vent at the top of the egg door. This door is on the west side. Their roost is across from the egg door and a little bit lower than the vent but I am thinking about maybe moving the roost down just a bit more to be safe. Then he installed a door on the entry...this door also has a vent put in it. This door is on the South side.

    Last night was the first night the girls went in for "lockdown" with the new door. I could have left it open - it only got down t0 50. [​IMG]
    The girls were pretty happy to see me when I went out this morning to let them out! I have two more vents that can be installed and after reading the ventillation page it probably would be a good idea. I've got a little over 1 SF of ventillation currently.

    Anyways...here are pictures of the updates made to the coop [​IMG]




    Still looking at covering the run in the Winter with a tarp, something I can take a broom to and get the snow off of when I have to. And I might put plastic sheeting across the North side of the run to block out the winds as some of suggested here! [​IMG]

    Thanks everyone for all the great feedback and links, it's really helped get our coop/run in order!

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by