Prepping the coop for winter

MndaG

Chirping
May 15, 2018
53
37
91
NH(USA)
This is my first winter with my chickens. I got them back in April and now it's starting to become cooler. I live in New England in NH. So winters will become cold and snowy. And most likely we'll be getting snow before thanksgiving. My question is what to do for the hens to protect them when they are out in the run and at night when they are sleeping. I have attached a picture of the coop when we got it all set up back in June. Their food is now hanging and they have a nipple water container.
IMG_1948.JPG
 

wamtazlady

Crowing
8 Years
Jul 18, 2013
1,768
2,318
326
Kalispell MT
The first problem you have is a store bought coop that is way too small for the number of chickens you have. However, you'll have to deal with what you have. Chickens do better in the winter if there is 4 square feet per bird. Overcrowding sometimes causes the birds to fight and pick feathers. So for your 6 birds your coop alone should be 4 ft by 6 ft.

If I were you I'd put clear plastic up on 3 sides of your run. That way the girls have a place to come out to that is free from wind. If your run isn't covered in some way I'd try to figure out a way to get it covered. Many chickens do not like to be out in snow. Mine refuse to walk on it and I live in Montana where we have snow on the ground 5-6 months a year.

The main problem you will have is getting the moisture out of your coop. A dry chicken is a warm chicken. You really don't have much height with that coop. I know because I started with one just like it years ago. If you use clear plastic on the run you should be able to open up the coop up high on the side that faces the run. That should help keep moisture from pooping and breathing to vent out of the coop without having a breeze blowing on the birds.

There are various way to handle the water freezing in winter. I use a container, mine is a tote, horizontal nipples, and a stock tank deicer that is rated for use in plastic. You could plan on replacing the water twice a day. They do sell some heated waterers. What you choose to do depends on if you have electricity to the coop and how often you can go outside to tend to the birds. My water is kept in the run to reduce the amount of moisture in the coop.

I worried the first winter with the chickens. It all turned out okay. Good luck.
 

MndaG

Chirping
May 15, 2018
53
37
91
NH(USA)
The first problem you have is a store bought coop that is way too small for the number of chickens you have. However, you'll have to deal with what you have. Chickens do better in the winter if there is 4 square feet per bird. Overcrowding sometimes causes the birds to fight and pick feathers. So for your 6 birds your coop alone should be 4 ft by 6 ft.

If I were you I'd put clear plastic up on 3 sides of your run. That way the girls have a place to come out to that is free from wind. If your run isn't covered in some way I'd try to figure out a way to get it covered. Many chickens do not like to be out in snow. Mine refuse to walk on it and I live in Montana where we have snow on the ground 5-6 months a year.

The main problem you will have is getting the moisture out of your coop. A dry chicken is a warm chicken. You really don't have might height with that coop. I know because I started with one just like it years ago. If you use clear plastic on the run you should be able to open up the coop up high on the side that faces the run. That should help keep moisture from pooping and breathing to vent out of the coop without having a breeze blowing on the birds.

There are various way to handle the water freezing in winter. I use a container, mine is a tote, horizontal nipples, and a stock tank deicer that is rated for use in plastic. You could plan on replacing the water twice a day. They do sell some heated waterers. What you choose to do depends on if you have electricity to the coop and how often you can go outside to tend to the birds. My water is kept in the run to reduce the amount of moisture in the coop.

I worried the first winter with the chickens. It all turned out okay. Good luck.
Thanks for your feedback, I actually only have five chickens now, one passed away a month or so ago. But I most likely have the same space issue. I'm trying to get my husband to enlarge the coop a bit before the winter comes.
 

flyin-lowe

Songster
5 Years
Jan 24, 2016
543
342
169
Indiana
I can't tell what breed you have but the cold itself is not typically a big deal for chickens as long as they can stay out of the wind. The last two winter we have had spells with temps well below zero and at times wind chills -20to-30 f. My coop has the pop door, 4 windows, a ridge vent, and the eaves are all open. They do just fine. Another problem with store bought coops, they are typically not sturdy enough to support a substantial roof. You need something on top that will keep predators out but if it's flat it will hold snow.
 

MndaG

Chirping
May 15, 2018
53
37
91
NH(USA)
I can't tell what breed you have but the cold itself is not typically a big deal for chickens as long as they can stay out of the wind. The last two winter we have had spells with temps well below zero and at times wind chills -20to-30 f. My coop has the pop door, 4 windows, a ridge vent, and the eaves are all open. They do just fine. Another problem with store bought coops, they are typically not sturdy enough to support a substantial roof. You need something on top that will keep predators out but if it's flat it will hold snow.
My chickens are Leghorns. I've read that they do well in the cold weather. My run has chicken wire covering the top. So we have yet to have anything other then a single squirrel get in one time. The house(coop) part is what we've purchased for the hens a while back. And my husband and I put together the run for them.
 

flyin-lowe

Songster
5 Years
Jan 24, 2016
543
342
169
Indiana
I’ve never used chicken wire so I could be wrong but I’m guessing a heavy snow will either break the chicken wire or collapse the wood of your run. You might need to find some way the rake the snow off which can be a pain if an overnight snow comes in.
 

MndaG

Chirping
May 15, 2018
53
37
91
NH(USA)
I’ve never used chicken wire so I could be wrong but I’m guessing a heavy snow will either break the chicken wire or collapse the wood of your run. You might need to find some way the rake the snow off which can be a pain if an overnight snow comes in.
I misunderstood what you were saying about the roof earlier I think. I'm hoping to convince my husband to help with making an angled roof so the snow won't accumulate on it.
 

wamtazlady

Crowing
8 Years
Jul 18, 2013
1,768
2,318
326
Kalispell MT
I’ve never used chicken wire so I could be wrong but I’m guessing a heavy snow will either break the chicken wire or collapse the wood of your run. You might need to find some way the rake the snow off which can be a pain if an overnight snow comes in.
My chicken wire top with tarp has lasted 3 years, however, it's looking sketchy now. The chicken wire is stretched badly. Am replacing it all with a slanted tin roof this year.
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,017
4,807
356
Illinois
I have the same coop. If you fully enclose it, then there is enough room for 7-8. Oddly enough mind still huddle together in the "coop" area. I have 7 out there. Usually there is one that stays on the outer roost bar and the rest stay together.

I added plywood to all areas, left the top triangle part in right side open for ventilation, also left about 4-6 inches across back top open for ventilation. I put weather stripping around the nest box. Also added a floor, a plastic flap door to keep wind out. I put fixed windows on the bottom and on the top door, the window on the righr can be left shut or open(Plexi glass and hardware cloth) I added a light inside the coop. I taped the run on two sudes and put clear plastic on two other sides--left gate uncovered. I also added a light to the run.

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