No birds yet, but we just finished building our coop and did decide to insulate it, mostly for drafts. We also provided plenty of ventilation up high. Every winter we get a few days where temperatures reach close to -40C/-40F.
I’m currently researching heated waterers as we won’t be home to carry water a few times a day.
If it gets that cold, they can go to the inside coop, which is an old converted walk in freezer, insulated very well, never had any issues. I understand it comes from a place of care and concern, but I do think folks overthink the whole winter thing too much.
draft free coop
lots of fluffy butts to snuggle together
I think they can keep eachother warm enough just fine. I was freezing outside in the snow with a coat on and they all come out and forage in the dry parts under trees like its a summers day!
I sort-of have a double wall coop area - a strange set up with 2 coops within a covered draft free area that has a door (like coops within the coop) It has walls all around the bottom half and tarps at the top half so I can roll them up for warmer weather. Plenty of ventilation too - which makes it not completely rain proof though so it can get a little wet inside if the wind blows it in but its always dry in the 2 inner coops.
I live in N FL. It never gets cold enough to bother the birds, they have feathers. We do have lots of draft free ventilation, to deal with the heat, and we deep litter - but that cold composts, its not warm enough (particularly during the drier parts of our winter) to be detectable, much less a heat source for the birds.
At most, they will bed down among the litter (the ducks, particularly), as our frost line is *maybe* 1/4" in a particularly bad year - so the ground is warmer. Just as they do in the summer, when the ground is cooler than the surrounding air.
I've had Homing Pigeons for decades, already knew with their average body temp. of 107 degrees, give or take a few, their warm feathers with down, plus that fact that wild pigeons do just fine living outdoors in all kinds of weather throughout most of the world, and whenever I enter their loft in the winter it is noticeably warmer, that they produce quite a bit of heat on their own. Their water bowls can freeze. When I lived further north, we had below freezing weather more often, so I did use water heaters to keep water from freezing. Pigeons are quite different than chickens. When fed, they will scarf it all down in 15 min, then get water to drink, and they're good all day for the most part, that's why they're known as athletes of the sky & can fly all day 600 miles non stop! Amazing!!!
Chickens are quite different, they peck & eat All day long. While their body temp is 105 average, give or take, they put off quite a bit More body heat, heating their own space significantly, as they're bodies are much bigger, plus they also have Much Wetter Poop, & ALOT more of it, so they humidity the coop as well, which can be very, very bad if not ventilated properly. If you enter your coop & it's damp or stinky & you see moisture clinging to the window, you need more ventilation! Although most chicken breeds are hardy, depending on your area & type of extreme winter, it is wise to consider their breed to brave the cold, their comb possibly getting frostbite, etc. There has to be a safe balance, ventilated yet sheltered from elements. You also have to be able to adjust to weather fluctuations. Where I live can range from 100 degree dry, or very wet summers, to below zero at times in winter! We could have drought or 2 weeks of heavy rain. I have sealed unit fans to circulate airflow & scoop out the wetter wood chips under their night poop perches Every Morn...that 15 min of poop scooping Really makes a Big Difference! In addition to providing a dry shelter, one essential thing chickens need is Constant access to food & fresh water, All day long. I have heated waterers for my chickens. If our winter temperatures are in the 30s, that is fine. Those times we may dip into 20s & below temps, I had used an oil filled radiant heater (looks like an old time radiator but you plug it in) heating the whole coop to about 35 to 39 degrees but in this area it doesn't happen often. The heater was stored in the house & only placed in the coop Jan & Feb when we got our coldest weather, in the middle of hallway mid coop, not where chickens can get to it, when not in use I covered with a sheet to keep it clean. I know that while this heater hasn't really gotten dusty, coops in general get dusty, birds are taking dustbaths then flapping & preening, so I do plan to upgrade & get the flat panel cozy chicken heaters to place by each night perch very soon, they're on sale now....yes, some shopping is about to happen LOL. I shop more for my flock than anyone! They're worth it, love them so much!
So far so good! No frostbite damaged combs or toes here.
It can get really cold here in the western mountains of Maine and stay that way for weeks on end. I have heavy breed chickens, insulated coup with south facing double pane windows, use heat lamps set up on a thermostat, and a vent fan.
I take freezing weather seriously but I live in Florida so the freezing weather is not of any duration. My pens have shelters where their own heat will protect them and I drape tarps on the northern side of their pens for arctic blasts.
We’re in Central AZ, so sub-freezing temps are unusual. Nevertheless, our hens are acclimated to 100°-plus summer days, so when it’s below 50°, I close all the vents and doors to the coop at night and add extra bedding. There’s still plenty of ventilation; none of the vents or doors have air-tight seals.