Question for the cold weather people

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by PrairieChicken, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. PrairieChicken

    PrairieChicken New Egg

    Dec 3, 2008
    North Dakota
    I'm in the throws of designing an economical coop for 3-5 chickens. I live in a cold climate (western North Dakota). The winters are mild for ND, but it is typical for the temperature to hover between -10 and +10 degrees F for a good three months out of the year. My question is, if a coop is constructed of at least 3/4-inch plywood, how essential is it still to insulate the coop? I've read info that it is essential, and I've also read examples of people in cold climates who have not insulated. So please tell me, actual cold-climate-living chicken keepers, what are your winter coop experiences?
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Mine are not insulated, and we get below zero temps with wind chill. Mine have been just fine. I think the key for me is my coops are not large, open buildings. They are less than 5' high (which makes it a pain to clean, as I have to crawl in on my knees, but the benefits over winter are worth it). My first coop was 4 x 8, and I had 7 chickens in it the first winter; had no issues whatsoever. When it's small, they huddle and their body heat actually warms up the inside just a bit. [​IMG]
  3. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Mine is an 8x8 with 16 chickens in it. No insulation. Keep it dry and draft free and they will do well. I will run a heat lamp when the coop temp gets into the single digits but, that is just a luxury for them. The coop is generally warmer than outside.

    Oh, and don't forget ventilation! You need the cross ventilation to help keep the air fresh and dry.

    Welcome to BYC!
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The thickness of the plywood doesn't honestly make any meaningful difference in terms of insulation (obviously it does in terms of predator resistance, durability, etc).

    Insulation isn't essential. However if you do it, you won't likely regret it, because it'll make it easier to keep in the heat the chickens produce (and I suppose any you may apply electrically, as well) while still having adequate ventilation. Think of it as giving you (or anyhow your chickens) a larger margin of comfort. I'd say do it if it seems gracefully feasible; but don't, like, put yourself in the poorhouse over it.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat, where it's been down to 0 F already this year but the building the hcickens are in is still in the upper 30s F, partly because it is a large building with a slab floor but also largely because of the 6" insulated walls [​IMG]
  5. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Mine is insulated with 1" durofoam insulation between the studs, nothing in the attic right now because there is a whole load of junk up there that the previous owners lovingly left us (note the sarcasm). I would suggest insulating, but you probably won't have to go with something too significant, perhaps just a durofoam, which by the way cost me $7.00/sheet (4x8 sheet) CAD.

    Also, for reference, I live in eastern Ontario, Canada
  6. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Quote:It was -3 today, brrr chilly standing out at the bus stop with all the big trucks whizzing by on the highway! Our coop was only at 0, when it was -13 out a couple weeks ago.
  7. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    Build it draft free, but with good ventilation, and your chickens will be fine whether you insulate or not. However, the advice to insulate is good. [​IMG]
  8. CedarLake

    CedarLake Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 31, 2008
    My coop is 4x4x8 and I have 5 chickens and two ducks. It's definitely winter here -- temps should get down around zero tonight and so far all the birds are just fine. I have no heat, and very minimal insulation (just some thick corrugated cardboard around the area where they all sleep. I also try to keep the straw/wood chip bedding fluffed up when they pack it down (it was muddy the last two weeks above freezing). I've been following the wisdom of people in colder climes (yes, colder than central Minnesota :) and just made sure I have adequate ventilation and no drafts.

    So far, so good.
  9. jubylives

    jubylives Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2007
    Central Iowa
    Actually plywood does have an R value. Not much though. I'm thinking it was like .63. [​IMG]

  10. big greg barker

    big greg barker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 26, 2008
    central maine
    I had a few chickens a few years ago in a building that didn't have insulation. My neighbor had an insulated coop. His suffered from respiratory illness due to lack of ventilation. Mine fared better than his except for frozen feet because I didn't know enough to put a roost in for them so they could get off the bare ground. Most of the animals I have had did just fine without insulation because they acclimated to the temps as it got colder, the way nature intended.
    My new coop has no insulation, but it is draft free, and has adequate ventilation and proper roosts.
    I would suggest choosing breeds that are cold hardy. BOs, BRs, RIRs NHs, etc.

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