Placement of Coop - More sun for winter warmth or more shade for summer cooling?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MoonShadows, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

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    I have several locations on my property where I can locate my coop here in north east Pennsylvania. Is a more sunny spot preferably so there will be more warth for the chickens in the winter, but possibly hotter in the summer, or a more shady spot so they are cooler in the summer, but possibly colder in the winter?

    I drive a school bus about 100 miles a day so I get to see a good number of chuicken coops and runs on a daily basis. This past week we had temperatures hovering around zero to the low single digits. I was surprised at how many runs I saw that were filled with chickens. I thought it would be too cold for them. On the other hand, I have read several places that many chickens do not do well in the extreme heat. One can always add more heat to the coop in the winter, but what about keeping it cooler for the summer?

    So, which do you think is better? More sun for the winter or more shade for the summer. This will help me decide on where to place the coop. Thanks.

    Jim
     
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you think about the down comforters that all chickens have, being cold is not a problem. Keeping chickens cool is always a challenge. They have these feathers all the time.

    I would focus on a location that helps them stay cool.

    I have read many posts about chickens suffering from coping with the heat, but none about the chickens being cold and suffering. Some have problems with frostbite on the combs and wattles, but that is dependent upon the size of the wattles and ventilation from what I have read.

    So, keep them cool, they seem to stay warm on their own.

    Chris
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I could show a photo of what my chickens choose to do when it is close to zero degrees Fahrenheit, but you’ve seen it in real life. If what you see doesn’t convince you, nothing I say or any photos I can show you will. A lot of what you read on this forum about the poor chickens suffering from the cold shows more about management practices that what the chickens can handle or even prefer.

    In general, chickens can handle cold really well. They do not do well in a cold wind, however. See what the wind conditions are like when you are out and about. I think you will see if it is windy, they look for a wind block.

    Another thing about chickens and winter. They don’t like change. When it first snows, mine avoid it like it is something dangerous. But if it stays on the ground for a few days, they get used to it and will go out to forage in it, especially if grass and weeds are sticking out above it. I’ve had some wade through 9” of fairly soft snow to go check out the compost heap.

    I don’t know how hot it actually gets in your part of Pennsylvania in the summer. I’ve had chickens die because of the heat even though they had shade, but that was in triple digit temperatures. For whatever reason they were locked in a run and coop too where they could not find a cooler spot. Heat is definitely a danger.

    One of my criteria for you would be to build it where they get shade in the hot part of the year.

    Another criteria is to look at your drainage. A wet run is a dangerous run, especially from a disease aspect. You need to position your run so rainwater does not run into it. Slope your coop roof or use gutters to get water away from the run. Use berms or swales to divert water away. And try to build it where it will drain when it rains in there. When rain sets in for a few days practically any run will get wet. There is just not much you can do about that. But think of drainage when positioning your coop. You can add shade. It’s hard to drain water from a low spot.
     
  4. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

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    Thanks for those replies.

    Ridgerunner - One of the places I was going to locate my coop, I would actually be using the old "foundation" where we used to set up a pool during the summer. It has about 6 inches of sand and gets great drainage. Does the run have to be dirt or can it be sand?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    To me, sand is a great material in the run. It drains well so if the water has a place to go, it will stay drier than anything else if it sets in wet for you.
     
  6. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

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    Thanks, Ridgerunner. I appreciate your help.

    Jim
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Lots of people use sand for their run, even put sides on it to hold in the sand. Drains well, easy to clean, probably better than dirt in terms of diseases. Your old pool spot sounds good, except pools aren't usually in the shade, and they will need shade in summer. Of course you can make shade with a roof. Runs definitely don't have to be dirt. Chickens love the grass -- but the grass will be gone in no time, and sand is a good way to deal with the remaining dirt. You definitely don't want a run that does not drain well.

    Ridgerunner makes an important point about heat. Evin in PA, it can get hot in the summer, and they will need shade, breeze and plenty of drinking water. Chickens do so well in cold weather that people in Alaska don't necessarily heat their coops.

    You might find these articles helpful. They were written by a Canadian.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-coop-temperatures

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop
     
  8. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

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    Great articles, flockwatcher. Thank you so much.
     

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