New in Soldotna, Alaska


6 Years
Sep 23, 2013
Merry Meet, All.

Been lurking and reading for enough years; it was about time to join.

I became responsible for my first flock of chickens when I was a kid, back in 1972. I've had them off and on many times since then (what is it about a yard with chickens in it that's so much more relaxing than anywhere else?), but this is my first time to have any in Alaska.

Built a cabinet-style brooder in the garage this spring; and got a nice little shipment from Cackle Hatchery the first week of May. In addition to a few Americaunas, which my family has had since the 70s and I can never resist, I also took on some Partridge Chanticleers and Cuckoo Marans, which are popular up here; a few Dark Brahmas, and one feather-legged "mystery rare breed" from the feed store. The way I built the brooder made it easier to spoil the chicks utterly rotten than I had in years gone by. I wanted them to be easy to handle. In that, I might have succeeded a little too well...they tend to run up and "help" me when I work in the flower beds. The coop they've used all summer long was a modification of the "chicken tractor" design, floorless and dragged all over the yard. They've done well in it, but it won't work for winter. All summer, dh & I have been working on a 10' x 10' permanent coop.

My second biggest worry is, exactly how strong does a chicken house need to be, for the hens to be safe from bears? My stepson found a black bear den not 50 feet away from the brand-new, soon-to-be-completed, $1000+ chicken house. As if that weren't alarming enough, no sooner had I climbed down from the nearly-finished roof, when one of our neighbors told me the people who lived here before had had not one but two bear-in-the-henhouse incidents the winter before last. Why, oh why don't people think I need info like that in time to plan accordingly?

My biggest worry is this: in a place where winters routinely hit 10 & 15 below zero; and have been known to hit 40 below, how much insulation is enough? I don't want to turn my hens into hothouse flowers likely to die should a heat lamp burn out while I'm at work; but neither do I want them shivering, miserable, possibly losing toes and combs to frostbite. Or worse. The former occupants' old henhouse doesn't have any insulation; you can see daylight through the cracks...but then again, the bear probably turned that fact into a moot point before the cold temps kicked in.

I also ought to ask what thermostat setting I should use inside the henhouse. Has anyone run across any studies re: the *optimum* temp range for chickens? I am open to all advice.


Welcome to BYC
There are a few discussions on winter housing and chickens in winter here, if you type keywords like "winter coop" and "insulation" into the search bar above you'll find them easily. On the bears... whoa. That sounds like a serious problem. There is some info on them and how to protect your flock here:

Also pop in at your state thread in the Where am I? Where are you! section and ask your locals what they did to work around the cold and the bears. Best of luck!

Glad you finally joined us! My Mother is an Alaska girl from Ketchikan. A little more mild I would imagine.

I will look forward to reading your posts!

Caroline now in Florida
I don't know what can stand up to bears. Some people use electric wire fence. Others say bears heavy coat insulates them from shock. I suppose to be effective at all, the bear's muzzle has to make contact with the electric wire. To this end some people smear peanut butter, etc. on a strip of aluminum foil attached to the fence. If the bear noses or licks they will get a shock.

I wonder how people safeguard their own homes - since bears are so strong, and determined .
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