Opinions on Winterizing My Coop & Run? Northern WI

AppleMomma65

Songster
Mar 16, 2020
216
275
126
Spooner, WI/ Prior Lake, MN
Well, the weather here is slowly deteriorating :( . It's been very windy, cold (temps in mid 40's/50's) and some days with rain. While there are still a few nice days on tap (60's) I've begun to think of how to winterize my coop and run and start now so I'm not out in the pelting frozen rain trying to do things. This will be my first winter with chickens - 11 of them. My plan/hope is that they will go outside for some time each day.

The coop came with corrugated plastic panels that snap into the hardware cloth sections. I had our local sign shop cut some similar panels for the run and have attached them to the sides with zip ties - 2x at the bottom and at the top (underneath the roof overhang), threading the tie through the hardware cloth and out the other end - all seems secure and tight. There are slight gaps where the panels don't go all the way to the wood frame, which is okay as I think will help with ventilation. I have more panels for the back/run door, and the back sides that I can put on once temps get much colder. Floor is dirt covered now with grass. Will lay straw down at some point.

* I have straw bales that I will put around the coop section - front and sides - and the first part of the run (closest to the coop).
* I have an aquarium heater that I will stick in the waterer (outlet is nearby).
* I will run drop cord through PVC pipe to coop so mice can't chew cord.
* I know that keeping things dry and ventilation is MOST important.

What are thoughts on:
* Adding foam board insulation/panels to the roof (on inside) - just the part closest to the coop (the roof has some small gaps due to shifting. My concern is with snow getting in)?
* Adding foam board insulation/panels to the back sides (again, to keep snow out)?
* Adding foam board to the egg box side (again, to keep snow out. There are some pretty big gaps, and one of my chickens sleeps here despite my attempt to change that habit and I have other battles to win.)?
* Adding a solar light for the coop and start that about Feb/Mar, turning on 1 hour in early a.m. only.

Thanks for your input!

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Last edited:

cavemanrich

Enabler
Apr 6, 2014
14,807
46,071
1,187
Melrose Park Illinois
Adding foam board insulation/panels
Just wanted to let you know, that if chickens can reach foam panels, they will peck, and eat it. Mine did.
You have things pretty well figure out. Make sure that you have some ventilation open up high. The small gaps you point out do not seem significant to worry about. On a windy day do inside, and feel if there are any significant drafts occurring. Remember,,,,,,,,,,,, DRAFT=BAD,,,,,,,,, VENTILATION= GOOD.
Draft definition,,, air movement sufficient to ruffle chickens' feathers.
Ventilation definition,,, air movement to gently remove moisture, and ammonia in air.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
Jul 26, 2008
31,510
59,618
1,342
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
I wouldn't worry about sealing that coop up. It is already so well sealed that I am actually worried that you don't have enough ventilation.

However, I AM worried that you will not be able to open that door...

Just how much snow do you get? Is that little port going to be covered with snow?

And just how cold do you get? (Real temp, not wind chill).
 

AppleMomma65

Songster
Mar 16, 2020
216
275
126
Spooner, WI/ Prior Lake, MN
I wouldn't worry about sealing that coop up. It is already so well sealed that I am actually worried that you don't have enough ventilation.

However, I AM worried that you will not be able to open that door...

Just how much snow do you get? Is that little port going to be covered with snow?

And just how cold do you get? (Real temp, not wind chill).
We average about 50” snow/season. The coop is very close to our house garage And right off the driveway so feel any snow removal should be fairly easy and if done regularly should be good. Can also snow blow/shovel path. Same with back door.

Lots of higher ventilation and won’t close that up with panels. Can easily remove panels on coop if needed. Due to what others have said, Rethinking not using foam board insulation at all and leaving back sides open. Just will watch for snow entering and make the call.

Daytime temps average around 15-30 degrees but with that said, we’ve had some real doozers with a week or two of 0 degrees (colder with windchill) usually mid January/early Feb.

I detest winter.
 

AppleMomma65

Songster
Mar 16, 2020
216
275
126
Spooner, WI/ Prior Lake, MN
Just wanted to let you know, that if chickens can reach foam panels, they will peck, and eat it. Mine did.
You have things pretty well figure out. Make sure that you have some ventilation open up high. The small gaps you point out do not seem significant to worry about. On a windy day do inside, and feel if there are any significant drafts occurring. Remember,,,,,,,,,,,, DRAFT=BAD,,,,,,,,, VENTILATION= GOOD.
Draft definition,,, air movement sufficient to ruffle chickens' feathers.
Ventilation definition,,, air movement to gently remove moisture, and ammonia in air.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
Thank you! Rethinking foam board insulation. Lots of good, high up ventilation that I will not cover.
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,260
22,664
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Lots of higher ventilation and won’t close that up with panels. Can easily remove panels on coop if needed. Due to what others have said, Rethinking not using foam board insulation at all and leaving back sides open. Just will watch for snow entering and make the call.

Daytime temps average around 15-30 degrees but with that said, we’ve had some real doozers with a week or two of 0 degrees (colder with windchill) usually mid January/early Feb.
Not nearly as bad as I thought. The chickens should be fine as long as you leave some ventilation open higher up (you'll probably find yourself adding/removing panels until you find a configuration that works for your setting) but yeah I'd skip insulation.

I assume the waterer is vertical nipples, since that's what the builder seems to use, is that correct? You're not going to be able to heat that successfully - the water can be kept liquid inside the unit but the nipples will freeze as soon as outside temperatures hit freezing. You'll either need to switch to a heated horizontal nipple unit or something like heated dog bowls.
 

AppleMomma65

Songster
Mar 16, 2020
216
275
126
Spooner, WI/ Prior Lake, MN
Not nearly as bad as I thought. The chickens should be fine as long as you leave some ventilation open higher up (you'll probably find yourself adding/removing panels until you find a configuration that works for your setting) but yeah I'd skip insulation.

I assume the waterer is vertical nipples, since that's what the builder seems to use, is that correct? You're not going to be able to heat that successfully - the water can be kept liquid inside the unit but the nipples will freeze as soon as outside temperatures hit freezing. You'll either need to switch to a heated horizontal nipple unit or something like heated dog bowls.
The waterer came with “no freeze” nipples. They have a spring action and I think are made of brass or something different. I’m going to try it and if it fails and need be, will schlep water out daily until I can get a heated waterer. So many things to think about!
 

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