More Winter Questions:with PICS

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Newtohens, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. Newtohens

    Newtohens Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 7, 2010
    This is my first winter with chickens, and it can get pretty cold in upstate new york. It can routine below 10F or below. I have read a ton of posts on insulation/ventilation and everything else, but I still have a few questions. Before I go into my questions, let me describe my coop & run. My coop is set up facing south, with the pop door and a window on the south side. For ventilation there is a cupola with a heating vent register w/louver on each side. Where I live, it is always windy. The wind blows all the time from the west and is very very strong, especially in the winter after they cut down the corn field behind us. For the winter, I closed off the west cupola vent, closed the window, and put a tarp over the run and down the west side of the run to block the majority of the wind and snow. I have also put up a pile of straw bales as a wind block on the west side of the coop. My questions are as follows:


    Should I close the North & South vents because the wind can still blow in?


    I leave the pop door open almost all the time because we don't have any predators and the run is completely enclosed, at what temperatures do you keep your birds confined for the day? You can see there is a slight gap in the tarp, so the wind does blow over the top of the pop door.
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    First, let me jump on this one before anyone else does... Never think you don't have any It's true really. Maybe if you lived on the moon or antarctica you could officially say you didn't have any predators, but in the good ole USA, you have predators. Okay..enough already.

    I would not close off all of your ventilation...maybe the west side. It's hard to tell how much vent. you have vs. the size of your coop, but it doesn't look like you have a lot of ventilation to begin with. You can always tack cloth inside to block cold winds but still allow warm, moist air to escape. Only with wind chill have we dropped below zero here (Indiana), and my pop door was opened every day last winter to try and entice my birds to stretch their legs a bit. My pop door was closed at night to conserve heat and for predator avoidance (completely enclosed run, but why risk it?). Tarping off the windy side of your run will help... Since you're in a windy area, I would consider tarping off more than just one side, as icy winds pose more of a danger than still cold air...
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The only way I could see saying "no predators" in upstate NY would be if this coop is in an entirely-6-foot-privacy-fenced yard with the gate never EVER left open and a high prey drive dog living out there 24/7. And frankly even in that case, you are betting on a) the dog noticing a predator before it gets in and b) the DOG not deciding to have chicken takeout some day.

    Really, in your area you have loose dogs, coyotes, foxes, raccoons aplenty, possums, weasels, and potentially mink. At *least* (some other critters occur too in some areas). You've been lucky that nothing has happened so far, but there is no way of telling how far just pure luck (or even luck plus privacy fence plus dog) will take ya. I would strongly suggest adding 2x4 or smaller welded wire to the run fence and/or closing the popdoor at night.

    (You will almost certainly want to close the popdoor at night when the weather gets cold anyhow, for temperature/draft reasons)

    Anyhoo, as to your actual question: since it is apparently a small coop and so the cupola is probably not too far from the roost, you may indeed have to close some more of the vents up there (especially if you really are leaving the popdoor open, which will create a thru draft). This is kinda unfortunate since that cupola doesn't contain very much vent area to begin with so if you have to close several sides of it you may find yourself a bit s.o.l. in terms of adequacy of ventilation. You'll have to see. Personally I'd add more vents (unless you already have 'em and just not mentioned 'em)... preferably at the top of the wall on the side that is furthest from the roost and most-usually-sheltered-from-the-wind. If such a position exists in your particular coop [​IMG]

    In some cases it is possible to *slightly* buffer drafts and incoming snow from roof vents (like your cupola) by adding an internal baffle or diverter. I don't know enough about the size or inside structure of your coop to guess whether this is a realistic option for you -- my guess is the coop and cupola may be too small but I could certainly be wrong, so you should take a look round in there and see if anything leaps out at you.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat, who lived in Brockport (W of Rochester) for five years so does have some idea about NY state conditions
  4. pringle

    pringle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2009
    Ohhh dont worry you will get predators soon enough so close that pop door!As for the wind dont worry chickens are tough animals,its better to have ventilation then to have a humid gross coop.And I always let the girls out everyday,if they get cold they will go inside the coop.
  5. eKo_birdies

    eKo_birdies Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2010
    Northern Colorado
    Quote:lol ummmm word of advice.. a high PREY drive dog is not what you want living out there 24/7

    there is quite a difference between a guardian dog and a dog w/ high prey drive [​IMG] ooooooh the experts
  6. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    i am in upstate too and we close up the north and the west sides.. other wise snow blows into the coop.. the south has ventilation the whole length of the coop up near the eaves and doesn't blow over the chickens where they roost.. it worked fine last year .. the coop is 8x8 so the vent is about 5" x8' we get alot of wind so the air exchange is good. in our second coop we built this spring we have the same set up only we added two 18"x18" vents up near the eaves.. the new coop is 12x16 with 23 birds in it.. will see how it does
    sorry i don't have any pics of it finished.. but the vents run along the front eaves and along the back eaves
  7. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    it gets pretty cold here in Pa too but I let them decide if its too cold to go out. I have a "porch roof" over my pop door to block a lot of the wind and from snow blowing in. If its a bad storm I take it up and put it behind the 2 posts to close it off. They will stay inside if it snows, they dont like it, or is too windy but its their choice usually. I only have about 2" wide and 2 2' long sections of ventilation in the eaves in the winter because I get a lot of wind off the field too and its plenty.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:lol ummmm word of advice.. a high PREY drive dog is not what you want living out there 24/7
    there is quite a difference between a guardian dog and a dog w/ high prey drive

    Yes I know, but hardly anyone (especially someone new to chickens) owns a LEGITIMATE chicken-guardian dog; the closest most people come is dogs that are keen on chasing/eating accessible critters but have not yet decided to try to get to sample the chickens. So that seemed like a likelier scenario to imagine. Frankly no matter what the dog I would suggest that it's best to consider the dog a potential predator and protect the chickens from it, too, when possible [​IMG]

  9. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2010
    Quote:lol ummmm word of advice.. a high PREY drive dog is not what you want living out there 24/7

    there is quite a difference between a guardian dog and a dog w/ high prey drive [​IMG] ooooooh the experts

    Actually, we have almost exactly the setup Pat describes - the chickens inside a six-foot fence with a dog that likes hunting things outside. He's not a livestock guardian dog by any means. He guards the territory, rather than the chickens. We lock him up when the chickens go to free-range in the late afternoon.

    Our area is teeming with predators. The neighbors, about 200 yards away, have had their entire flock wiped out at least three times. We lost a few to the dog before we got the system worked out, but now everything goes smoothly.

    It's hard to choose a livestock guardian dog for this area. We know of several Border Collies and Australian Shepherds that were eaten by coyotes. Our massive Rottweiler/Pit Bull is canny enough not to engage the packs, but large enough to warn them away from the yard. Really we could invest a lot of money and training and not hope to get a dog nearly as well suited for our situation. We dread the day that we don't have him any more! With reports of cougars moving back in, it's very comforting to have him out there in the dark...
  10. chicks4kids

    chicks4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    Northern Indiana
    I would close in and cover the run as much as you can. I have my run covered completely and all sides are closed in on mine. Currently I open the door for them to go out and free range (in a large fenced in area) during the day.

    Once the snow hits and stays, my girls will prefer NOT to go out into the snow. If you want your hens to have room to roam around in the winter, then definitely cover their run area and close it in to keep the snow out, otherwise they may decide that their NOT touching the white stuff and stay inside the coop all winter. That can make for cranky and aggitated birds pretty easily.

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