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Off-Grid Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BoroDave, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. BoroDave

    BoroDave In the Brooder

    Dec 3, 2009
    Adirondacks, New York
    New to the board and am looking forward to exchanging advice, tips, and stories.
    I have a unique situation where I am off-grid and cannot heat my coop with electricity. I can provide a light to keep the hens laying however it would not give off heat since it is a compact florescent.
    I'm wondering if anyone out there is in the same position and has come up with a design to keep the coop somewhat warm and the water from freezing most nights.
    I live in the Adirondacks and it's know to be cold here.
    My coop was built this spring and I have yet to insulate it (will be done soon).

    Under Construction

    It's current look with the addition of a door

    This has an insulated cement slab and if you notice, the long narrow opening on the bottom of the coop is for clean out. The floor framing of the coop is elevated about 12 inches and is covered with wire mesh to allow the composting pine shavings to fall through once they start to break down.

    I though of attaching a small greenhouse to the front with vents up top to allow the warm air into the coop and then run a small fan on the bottom to spread the warm air over the slab, thus heating it up and radiating the heat off at night.

    I may be going a bit overboard but I enjoy the challenge. Any suggestions would be great....especially with the water freezing. Remember, I cannot plug in anything that produces heat or has a large wattage say over 14 watts.

    Thanks for reading,

  2. BoroDave

    BoroDave In the Brooder

    Dec 3, 2009
    Adirondacks, New York
    Photos above are a bit small so here are some more.



    Thanks for looking.
  3. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    nice design!!!!!! love the pitch in the front by the door, cute looking! what color are you painting it? or are you siding it? [​IMG]
  4. A very nice coop- well done! Just a little suggestion for predator protection- cover your chicken wire with 1/2" gauge hardware cloth to keep coons, weasels and possums from reaching through. It looks like the top of the run is covered? And you probably put wire underground at the edges of the run?

    I'm glad you're insulating, be sure to sheathe the insulation, some ideas in a link below. It makes a huge difference! [​IMG]


    I guess solar lighting would be an option and I'll be very interested to see what you decide with the attached greenhouse- not sure how hot it gets in your summers but since you are at elevation I'm assuming it's rather mild. We're in the hills, too.

    Off grid, your biggest concern will be keeping the water liquid. You could build an insulated stand for a container or use something bought insulated- like those water cooler things. Apple cider vinegar in the water helps slightly but will not be adequate to prevent freezing. Your hens will produce some heat, so capturing it with an insulated or drop-ceiling is an option. Nice door- lots of light getting in there and the window. Do you have a wood stove in the house and does it have a hot water heater, so you can offer warm water to the birds?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  5. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    For the heat do a search on solar panals. There were some good threads about making solar panels for heat using scrap wood and pop cans.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Honestly it is not a big deal. People have been raising chickens in the Adirondacks for several centuries "off the grid", most of the time because of there BEING no grid [​IMG], it is not the north pole and your chickens will be fine as long as your coop is sensibly designed/managed and you bring them liquid water as often as necessary.

    I would suggest insulating as heavily as you can manage; while it is not perhaps *strictly* necessary in your climate it will give you milder coop temperatures and more margin for error, as well as happier chickens and easier management. Do not neglect to insulate the ceiling at least as well as the walls are. And put a good depth of shavings on the floor for bedding, a foot or more.

    Despite insulating and all that, make sure your coop remains WELL VENTILATED all winter -- see page in my .sig below for a lot more on that -- since what gives a lot of chickens frostbite is not cold temperatures per se but high humidity in only-just-below-freezing temps. So everything you can do to keep humidity down (chickens put out a LOT of humidity!) is heavily worthwhile... fix leaks, prevent waterer spills, ventilate well, and perhaps use a droppings board under the roost that you clean every morning (that last thing really makes a big impact on coop humidity).

    There are things you can rig up for some passive solar heating if you really want the entertainment value of fiddling with them, but it is not like you need to.

    Water them in a largeish container, possibly make an insulated jacket for it if you feel ambitious, and simply bring them new liquid water once or more per day, depending on how fast it is freezing. It does not matter at all for the water to freeze overnight, the chickens aren't going to drink then anyhow -- just make sure you are out there with liquid water first thing in the morning.

    Truly, this is not the major challenge you may be thinking it is [​IMG] Chickens are generally quite cold-hardy in a well-managed coop, usually well down towards 0 F and often a good ways below that. Put a max-min thermometer in your coop, you will also find that your coop is (or should be) staying significantly warmer than the outside air, esp. on the coldest nights.

    Good luck, have fun,


  7. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    That is an awesome coop. love the door and window. We have power to the house our chickens are in now but next year we hope to build a house so we can have all our flock together, which is ducks,goose and chickens and this will be to far from the house for power, so look forward to the responses you get.
  8. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    That is an outstanding coop, one of the best I have seen here! You need to enter it into the coop contest, but not till next round please. [​IMG]
    Like the others have said, not having electricity is not a drawback for you. My low-tech way of keeping water from freezing so fast was to use concrete pavers (4" thick), and keep them in front of our fireplace insert. When I change the water, I put a warm paver under it. Like Pat says, ventilation is key--you may want to add vents under the roof peaks.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  9. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    [​IMG] from Alaska

    Love the coop......

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