Open coop in Florida? Too cold?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by GoodEgg, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Guess I'm getting a little paranoid again. As I remember, my grandma's chickens in north Louisiana had a corrugated metal shed that was 3 sides and a roof, and they were always fine with one whole wall open.

    I have an A-frame coop, not tremendously well constructed. It was GREAT in summer, because it stayed cooler than the outdoors. It's basically two walls coming up to a point, with a floor added. Both ends are made of hardware cloth. (And both ends have doors, so I can't enclose them completely.)

    Both ends ARE covered with tarps at night, but there is still a gap near the roof, and one end is half-open at the bottom because of the chicken door. It cuts wind, but certainly doesn't seal or insulate the coop.

    Deep litter method, with pine shavings. But all chickens roost on flat-mounted 2 x 4's about 30" off the floor.

    It got down to about 45F last night, and they were quite fine and ready to pop out this morning. It's getting down to 39F tonight, which isn't TOO much colder, but not too far from freezing either.

    I have 26 chickens. Most are heavy-breed pullets, but I have 6 banties and a silver spangled hamburg too. I think I worry most about the Jap bantam's comb and wattles, as the wattles are pretty large.

    Any advice? I don't think I can really completely seal this coop or insulate it well. I'm thinking of just keeping it for a summer shelter and hopefully building a new, better coop, but I can't afford that just yet (and may not be able to until next spring or so).

    I don't know if I'm just worrying too much. My grandma's were fine. Then again, they had raised nest boxes and they COULD have slept in them. My boxes are on the floor (no way really to raise them) and the girls don't like them much. They lay in them, but they won't sleep in them.

    Advice MUCH appreciated from anyone who's used a similar setup in this climate (northwest Florida, almost southern Alabama) and whether there were any problems?

    Thank you!!!
    trish
     
  2. kstaven

    kstaven Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    You are worrying to much about the cold. With the tarps as a wind break your chickens will be fine.

    We have people up here that use hoop houses year round with no problems.
     
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Yeah, don't worry. I live up here and my chickens sleep outside by choice year round. Only the young and infirm go in at night when it is in the teens.
     
  4. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Great, thank you both so much. [​IMG]

    That's what I was thinking, those feathered little bodies generate a lot of heat and I THOUGHT they'd be fine as long as they are dry and out of the wind. Like I said, my grandma's didn't even have 4 walls, and they didn't have a windbreak either, except that the open end of the coop faced the larger rabbit barn.

    I was fine until the image of that cozy row of nest boxes came to mind, and I got to worrying that maybe they all slept in those -- although I think she had way more chickens than would have fit unless they shared pretty tightly ... and my girls WON'T share, LOL.

    Well ... I am humbled now, by having had to ask what I thought was a silly question, but just don't want to lose my chickens to my own ignorance. [​IMG]

    THANKS!!!

    trish
     
  5. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    When I first had chickens I had 3 walls and a roof and no front panel at all. All I did in winter if it was to windy was staple a shower curtain to the front and weight it down with a couple concrete bricks. I did that for 3 years until I had my main coop built. We had a few nights it was in the middle 20's here in Ocala.
     
  6. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks, Poison Ivy,

    That was exactly what I was hoping to hear.

    Everyone was fine this morning, and ready to get out and set about their business (which so far today involves finding ways to escape the backyard!)

    Silly chickens ... the yard is HUGE and they still haven't ranged the full size of it ... but the front yard is looking good to them. [​IMG]

    Fixed a gate and clipped some wings this morning already ...

    Thanks again!
    trish
     
  7. picklespickles

    picklespickles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2007
    do they have places to hide in the backyard? for mine who can't hide in the trees when they get nervous, i have a very large pile of old branches. the ground dwelling birds, as i think of them, like to take cover in there when they get nervous.

    it might not help them running into the front yard at all, just a thought. somtimes they are looking for adventure, sometimes just for cover.
     
  8. carugoman

    carugoman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 8, 2007
    NW FL Crestview
    Hi all y'all!
    I live north of US 90 halfway between Crestview and Mossy Head...it's supposed to go down to 29 tonight, but I'm not worried about my yardbirds. I have an open coop design made from scrounged parts, mostly from remodel and construction sites, and I have no pride when it comes to dumpster-diving at hardware and warehouse stores like Home Depot and the like. It has cost me nothing nada nichts to make my outbuildings and I plan to keep that way. Here in the Florida Panhandle, there's a community based website ( www.freecycle.org) where one can get all sorts of stuff for free...if you try to sell something you get banned for life!
    OOps! I almost forgot why I posted. One could take a couple of wood poles, drive those poles into the ground a couple or four feet deep,several feet apart or at least as long as you coop walls are, cross-brace or buck them, tie and stretch some rope a foot or three above the highest point of one's yardbird shack, hang a tarp or a scrounged, dumpster-dug drop cloth and create a windbreak maybe a foot or so away from but parallel to one or more wall(s) of said poultry habitation. This could be a temporary fix or seasonal or permanent all dependent on how robust you build it. For now, I'm heading off and all y'all go suck some eggs!
     
  9. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Quote:Thanks, pickles. [​IMG]

    Yup, they have LOTS of places to hide. A big brush pile, several trees, number of small trees with thick branches at ground level, a few thick stands of pampas grass, and all kinds of stuff I let grow along the fenceline for privacy, as well as a small open pumphouse, the duck and chicken coops, and (LOL!) an old brick barbecue grill they like to sit under/inside of.

    They just want to explore.

    At first it was a cockerel who got out by himself, and crowed his head off until I came out and got him back in.

    Next day it was half a dozen, and they were in the VERY thick brushy area between my garage and neighbor's fenceline ... where the cats or other strays will usually come up if they come. They found a way over my gate repair, and I guess whoever went through first showed everyone else, and it was just a party from there.

    It was too thick there for me to go in, so I had to coax them out. Which is normally easy, but they were so excited by the new place it took almost an hour.

    So ... I clipped wings immediately. No more escapees since then, thankfully.

    Thanks for the suggestion, but ... they were just being adventurous I guess. [​IMG]

    trish
     
  10. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks, carugoman, and welcome to the board. And hi, almost neighbor!

    I'm on freecycle, but have not read it lately. I did get some wood from there for my coop. I love the idea of the windbreak you describe. I might use something like that when I re-work the back run (which they almost never use) to make it more convenient ... right now I have a little kind of tunnel running from the coop to run which I had thought would make it easier to put the tarp across the back of the coop, but in reality it's just a pain, and there is still a fair gap across the floor with the tarp.

    I guess they are fine though. I cover the front almost completely, and the back is covered except that gap on one side at the floor, and the peak. They are still perky and sassy when they come out in the morning ... maybe even more so than when it's warm.

    Can't really go that high with the windbreak (coop is almost 8 feet tall and I don't own a ladder, LOL) but it's definitely something I am thinking of trying with my duck coop right now instead of wrapping the tarp around the coop.

    Thanks for the idea!!!

    trish
     

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