Midwest winters

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by zippitydooda, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. zippitydooda

    zippitydooda Songster

    Apr 23, 2010
    Ottawa, Ohio
    I am converting a building into a coop. At the present time, it is frame & plywood construction. We have brutally cold winters, and am looking for advice on how to keep my hens warm enough during below freezing (-20F). I am willing to insulate the building, but am not sure if that would be a problem during our hot & humid summers.

    Please give me some input! I am at a total loss. [​IMG]

  2. Andi

    Andi Songster

    Insulating isn't an issue in the Summer because insulation insulates against heat as well. Your big concern for both Winter and Summer is ventilation. You want to make sure that the moisture doesn't build up inside and create respiratory issues with the birds. The birds will add to the moisture level simply by exhaling. If you keep water in there, that will add to it.

    You should consider breeds that can handle the climate conditions and save yourself a lot of headaches. If breeds that aren't as hardy in your climate are where your passion is, then you'll need to invest a bit more in their coop/run situation. There are breeds that will do just fine in unheated coops.

    For me the issue wasn't the birds (because I got breeds that will do fine). My problem was figuring out how to do it so when I collected eggs that they hadn't froze and burst, as well as keeping the water thawed.

    I discovered there have been many threads of others experiences already on here on the subject. Try doing some searches for topics. That way you'll get a chance to see all the different ideas that others have come up with.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  3. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    Hang heatlamps about 2' off of the floor. Most of the heat will rise to the roosts, & if they get too cold, they can snuggle underneath the lamp.
  4. My hens live in a converted tack room in the barn. It is pretty cold in there. Last winter the thermometer broke because it was so cold. I hung a heat lamp over the perches and left it on 24/7. If they got cold while out in the yard, they came in and warmed themselves during the day. On really cold nights I put a small heater in the coop. It was nice and toasty then.
  5. Hugerat

    Hugerat In the Brooder

    May 14, 2010
    You can also get thermostat devices for plug in items that would turn on your heat lamp only if the temp went below 30, 20 whatever you choose. The biggest concern for heat lamps is fire, makes sure you mount is safely.
  6. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Songster

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    I insulated the coop after the first winter, frostbitten toes and combs are not fun to deal with. Along with insulation I also use the deep litter method. Good ventilation is a must, especially in winter!
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    See my "cold coop" page, link in .sig below, for a bunch about this. There are LOTS of things you can do to create a not-too-cold coop.

    I second the recommendation to select breeds intelligently, preferably avoiding single-combed breeds (or at least avoiding things with *large* single combs).

    Insulate. It would only cause problems in summertime IF you have radically insufficient ventilation, which you won't right? [​IMG], so, no problem.

    Do make sure you have amply-sufficient WINTER-type ventilation built into the coop too. (See my ventilation page for more detail). The quickest way to get frostbite isn't severe cold, it's mild cold plus humid air (which is what you get with a too-tight underventilated coop).

    If you end up in a situation where you have to add heat (heat lamp or whatever) I highly recommend arranging it so you are heating only a small enclosed part (e.g. roost area) of a well-insulated coop.

    Good luck, have fun,


  8. zippitydooda

    zippitydooda Songster

    Apr 23, 2010
    Ottawa, Ohio
    Thanks everyone for your QUICK replies! We have 4 week old Buff Orps, Australorps & Barred Rocks. There are 15 birds total. The building doesnt have any windows (yet), but I'm planning on one, possibly 2. That should help during the summer months. The building has 2 parts to it, and the back half has loads of ventilation. I'm planning on having a screen door that can close off between the two sections. The building doesn't have electricity at this point. It is close enough for extension cords, but would prefer to just build the coop right to start with. I have a guy coming to see what needs to be done to get power to the building.

    Do any of you recommend using automated waterers? Benefits? Drawbacks?

    Also, since my girls will be on the hefty side, what dimensions should their nesting boxes be? And how many should there be for 15 girlies?

    I need to get going on the coop right away as the girls are almost grown out of the brooder. I put them in a run during the day to stretch, and they seem happy to be in the brooder at night. They are not completely feathered yet, but almost. The tops of their heads, backs & fannies still have fluff. I would expect they will be ready in 2 weeks or so.....ahhhhhhhhhhh need ... to.....hurry.........

  9. bald k9

    bald k9 Songster

    Sep 5, 2009
    Rural Edwardsville
    Hello I am new to chickens but from my worries ,I have found that chickens are very tough ,I have an 8x10 old shed with no insulation, and have to keep the doors open in the winter because the chickens keep this space warm, I live in central illinois and I did not lose one chicken last year, ,but i agree about ventilation, I find it best to keep venting up higher than the roost, just my 2cents,
  10. Andi

    Andi Songster

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by