Newbie wondering about winterizing the coop? (NOW with PICTURE)

Celia

Hatching
11 Years
Oct 17, 2008
7
0
7
Ohio
Hi everyone!

I'm in NE Ohio. We have 11 RIR hens and a rooster that we got as chicks this spring. We've never had chickens before, so we have no clue what we're doing and we're just learning as we go. I've learned a lot just lurking on these boards, though I'm still not up on all the lingo. Anyway, I'm finally de-lurking to get some specifics on what to do to prepare for winter. Tonight's low is expected to be around 30.

About our chicken area......
We converted a dog kennel to enclose the chickens. This kennel area has long since been stripped of anything green and growing and gets muddy during rains.

The kennel was arranged to be one panel deep and two panels wide, the remaining side is against an old garage. We built 6 nest boxes into the side of the garage, so that eggs could be gathered without going into the kennel area.

The chicks have a coop inside the pen area that is about 8 feet long, 3 feet deep, 3 or 4 feet high, and about 3 feet off the ground. The bottom of the coop is wire. They have a ramp to get in and out of the coop and into the kennel area as desired. Water and feed hang below the coop. Roosts are built at each end.

We used plastic snow fence to cover the top of the kennel area to keep out hawks. One section has a tarp we threw over it to give the chickens a place to be if it's raining.

The plywood sides are screwed in and so they can be moved up or down to allow for ventilation.

I'm looking for general advice as to how we should get ready for winter, and I also have some specific questions.

Specific questions:

1) I've read about insulating with bales of hay. Should they be placed around the outside of the kennel or where? How high?

2) I've read about deep litter. Is that inside the kennel area or inside the coop? If it's inside the coop, do I need to

3) Since the ends of the coop are adjustable for ventilation, should I leave them down just a crack for winter time??? There are no windows, so it would be dark in there....of course we could make some windows. I'm concerned about drafts because the tallest roosts are at the ends that are lowered for ventilation.

4) Along the lines of #3.....the floor of the coop is wire. Should we cover it with plywood or something for the winter? (If the deep litter is not in the coop.)

5) I'd like to buy a heating base and a galvinized fount to keep the water from freezing.....how do you protect the electric cord?

6) I plan to keep the food and water underneath the coop.....will they come out and eat/drink when it's cold????


Sorry this is a book! Thanks in advance for any help!
 
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digitS'

Songster
12 Years
Dec 12, 2007
2,119
23
201
ID/WA border
Well, it is quite a book, Celia. Reminds me of an essay question in math class, all those many years ago
.

The chicks have a coop inside the pen area that is about 8 feet long, 3 feet deep, 3 or 4 feet high, and about 3 feet off the ground. The bottom of the coop is wire. They have a ramp to get in and out of the coop and into the kennel area as desired. Water and feed hang below the coop. Roosts are built at each end.

. . .

So, you have 12 adult chickens in a 24 square foot coop with a wire floor? And, there are no windows. I'm not sure what you mean by, "The plywood sides are screwed in and so they can be moved up or down to allow for ventilation." Since the coop is 3 foot off the ground, are you saying that you can enclose that open space below with plywood? Would there then be a gap at the top of the wall - as much as a 3 foot gap?

Everything seems tight/tight except that there's a LOT of air beneath the birds.

Take a look at this Flemish bird guy's webpage - click on "coops" and see if your set-up could be altered to look like one of those "pile coops." The drawings are of historic designs but I think they may work for what you are trying to do. You simply MUST get the birds a few more square feet of protection while controlling drafts and yet allowing for ventilation.

Steve​
 

Celia

Hatching
11 Years
Oct 17, 2008
7
0
7
Ohio
OK, a picture is worth a thousand words and it saves you from reading them!


Here is our poor, unfinished coop. (It's inside an 8'x16' kennel.)



On the left you can see the one side panel resting on the ground. The panel could be taken up to the top to not allow so much air in. The panel on the other side (not visible in the picture) can be adjusted in the same way.

Their door faces the east, so that makes the left side to the south and the right side to the north.

We could enclose the bottom area under the current coop to make more space....hadn't thought of it, didn't realize they needed more. Should that area be enclosed and more roosts put in?
 

Katy

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jun 29, 2007
16,317
70
331
Kansas~50+ yrs of chickens
I'd enclose the open bottom area of the coop so the cold wind isn't coming up through the wire bottom of the coop. I'd worry about their feet freezing.
 

patandchickens

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
12,520
255
341
Ontario, Canada
Cute coop!
How do you get in to clean?

DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY cover the floor with plywood, and make sure any gaps around the edges are well stopped up; then put 4-6" (or more) of bedding on top of it.

Your tarp and plastic snowfence are going to come down in the first snowfall. Either you need to SERIOUSLY big-time install a lot of strong rafters and replace the tarp with more snowfence, or leave the pen roof open to the sky over the winter.

Bales of hay could be placed either 'encasing' the coop, like insulating the walls from the outside, you know?, and/or one or more sides of the run could have a haybale wall added in order to provide some shelter from the wind. Be careful how you stack the hay - you don't want it toppling over and killing chickens.

You'll want to make adjustable covers for the upper openings on the ends of the coop, so that you can control how much ventilation you have. And yes, by all means make a window or two.

Keeping the food and water under the coop may be a problem -- you don't want the food getting damp from windblown snow and then either molding or freezing solid, and you don't want the chicknes going hungry/thirsty in bad weather, and it will require MUCH MUCH more electricity to keep your water liquid outside than in.

The chickens aren't going to harm the cord to a heated waterer, although if you have a mouse or rat problem, they might.

Hope this helps some, good luck and have fun,

Pat
 

patandchickens

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
12,520
255
341
Ontario, Canada
Quote:The waterer isn't going to be sitting on the bedding, right, it will be up on some sort of stand? Some cinderblocks, a stack of wood, that sort of thing? (Otherwise they will kick too much bedding and poo into it, and tip it over, and on soft bedding it will tend to wobble and spill, too).

So, not an issue


Have fun,

Pat
 

Jenski

Songster
11 Years
Jun 17, 2008
2,177
18
181
Middle Tennessee
Here are my two cents for spoiled suburban chickens ~

http://theworldofjenotopia.com/cmsjoomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=53&Itemid=27

I have an elevated coop (although mine is painted with exterior paint and sealed with paintable caulk for weatherproofing). In winter I keep a heated waterer (as per that article link) beneath the coop. If it gets very cold I would line hay bales around the perimeter inside the run; it acts as a windbreak and insulator.

Incidentally, since that article was written we have installed more wood panel windbreaks in sliding tracks along the run so we can slide them in when cold weather comes.

Keep a check on their combs/wattles and little toes, and give them plenty of stuff to scratch around and keep warm. Good luck!

Ed. to add question ~ is there a door on your coop? If not, you may wish to consider one, both for security and for keeping out the cold.
 
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