Need protection from the elements... advice?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cleoppa, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. cleoppa

    cleoppa In the Brooder

    Sep 28, 2010

    I have 6 hens. They were hatched in March. I have a nice pen for them. It's roomy and next to a shed, so it's got somewhat of a windbreak. There are trees close and part of it is roofed. There's also a structure that a friend gave me. She'd had chickens and was moving out of the area. It's like a raised enclosed-by-chicken-wire space. So they have plenty of space to get out of the rain or weather.

    But, they have no "indoor" space. This has been fine. However, it's getting colder. My friend, who lived just down the street, had a very similar setup as me and her chickens did just fine. However, I think her enclosure was a little bit more... enclosed. I have chain link around a lot of it. She had a house and wooden fence around hers.

    It snows occasionally here but not every season. So... as winter's approaching, I'm trying to figure out how best to keep them warm. I'm wondering if I should get a large dog house and put hay in it? Or do they need more than that? Or should I try to put some sort of windbreak around the fence? Or should I wrap the coop I have in plastic so it keeps it warmer?

    Any ideas?

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Chickens tolerate cold a lot better than heat. Even in Alaska, not everyone heats or even insulates their coop. They don't need to be kept warm so much as have a place out of wind and draft, and snow. Or at least they will hopefully be more comfortable that way. (Chances are they could survive your weather roosting in trees.) Plastic over structures you already have may be sufficient -- but keep in mind they need ventilation in all weather. There needs to be a way for the humidity in the air they exhale and the ammonia in their droppings to move outside continuously. In other words, there needs to be air exchange at or near the high point of the coop, and windbreak in lower areas. Their roost should not be in wind or a draft in cold weather (though in the heat of summer they will appreciate the breeze.)

    Where I live, it essentially never snows, but we do get overnight temps below freezing several times a year. The old fashioned way to keep chickens around here is in an open sided shed, or a chain link pen with plastic on 3 sides in winter, and a sheet of plywood set on top. I have a real coop but it is far from airtight; there is air exchange between the wall tops and the roof on all sides, plus part of the outside walls is wire. In winter I set up plastic or something to keep the wind and draft off the roost area.
  3. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    If they have a place to get in out of the weather and roost, then they should be OK.

    It is the draftiness, not the cold that gets them. They need ventilation.

    I have a coop with 30 square feet of screens, but no drafts.


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