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Questions about my coop and winter...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Zeida98, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. Zeida98

    Zeida98 In the Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2014
    Northfield, MN
    Hi all! I know it's still July, but I am already freaking out about the approaching cold weather. I live in MN and last year we had a horribly cold winter.

    This is my first flock of 5 RIRs and I just want to make sure they are OK. We purchased the Precision Pet Old Red Barn Chicken Coop and built a larger outside run for them to enjoy. The coop has a dirt floor and is rather low to the ground. I don't think the deep litter method will work, as the nesting boxes sit just 5 inches above the floor. Also the coop doesn't have a door from the hen house to the run. It's just an opening.

    I need suggestions. Do I make a door? Do I put plastic around the whole thing? Do I add a light? What kind of bedding should I use? I want to be prepared for these little ladies to survive the harsh winters we can have!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. lightchick

    lightchick Crowing

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    Minnesota
    This will be my first winter with chickens too and I'm in MN!
    I've kept pigeon through the winter though.....a few didn't survive the harsh winter last year!
    I'm going to put wood shavings in the coop and put a heat lamp/light in there if the coop we're building is tall enough.
    I'd put a door between the run and the coop. I'd also keep the wood shavings as deep as possible.
    Good luck!
     
  3. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    Your coop looks a little tight for five birds, being cooped up during winter does not look to be much fun. The respiration of five chickens in there will, I think, give you trouble. To see what I mean by this, lock them in for as long as you can, or feel good about, then stick your nose in there and have a sniff of what I am trying to relay to you. The cold is a secondary problem at this point. You need lots of ventilation, to avoid frostbite, and respiratory problems in your flock, first off.

    Yes there is work to be done in getting ready for winter, and you are an excellent keeper to think so early to do so. If you find the above to not be the case, then you are on your way. Should you be offended by the hot, stale, humid, smelly air you find by confining them for even a few hours, then you will need to try to address this first. If you have the time, please read this link https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    It may help you in your quest to care for your birds.

    RJ
     
  4. jetdog

    jetdog Songster

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    I wrap my run with a heavy canvas and a clear shower curtain on the front, it will keep the snow out and lets the sunshine in kinda like a greenhouse effect, shavings in the coop and good ventilation.
     
  5. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    I agree with RJSorensen, the coop is too small for 5 birds and does not have sufficient ventilation, it's going to be a tough winter for them with such a small space. I also wouldn't want it to be sitting on the bare ground like that over the winter. Since you said you have built a larger run for them could you possibly turn this entire little pen into their coop? Take out the wall with the little door in it, close in more of the outside area and add roosts? You could also set the whole thing up on cement blocks maybe to get it up off the ground. Then bed it with a thick layer of shavings. When the weather is bad chickens like to spend a lot of time inside, that would give them a little more room to do so.
     
  6. dczymmek

    dczymmek In the Brooder

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    Jun 2, 2014
    New York
    I took a look at the dimensions on that- approximately 4.3X6.4, works out to a little over 27 square feet, divided by 5 birds is a bit over 5 square foot per bird. Plenty of space when they have access to a run, but being winter they will not go out as much leading to possible ventilation problems. If I were you I would run underground wire or an extension cord to the coop to keep a heatlamp on the birds for cold night, and if possible make a simple door and run-cover it with a large tarp, and enclose the sides with some type of plastic. Based on the numbers the coop is large enough, and with a larger, protected run and heat your birds should be good for the winter!
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  7. Zeida98

    Zeida98 In the Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2014
    Northfield, MN
    Here is a current picture of the entire coop and run.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    Is the wooden, enclosed portion of the coop 4.3 x 6.4 or are those measurements for the entire thing? It looks like the wood enclosed coop portion is about half that. If it were me, I'd make an enclosed coop out of the entire thing since they already have a large run they can use. That would make for much better winter housing.
     
  9. chixmaidservice

    chixmaidservice Chirping

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    Oct 13, 2013
    Hi Zeida, My small flock and I survived last winter in northern Ohio, where we had temps go as low or lower than you guys in Mn. ( praying to never hear the words" polar vortex" again-ever) I had one hen get a frost bit comb so I have to rework my ventilation (drill more holes hi above roosts) this summer. In my opinion I would wrap your original coop w/ plastic or a tarp, but I would leave 4-6 inches of screen mesh open between the tarp and the roof. That way you will get ventilation w/o a direct draft and you won't have as much snow blowing and drifting into the coop and run. My girls did not like wading thru the snow, but did like the snow protected area under their coop to scratch around in some hay. I got a heated dog-size water bucket and never had an issue w/ frozen water. I kept this in the run, as I fear electrical fires in coops. I did not use a heat lamp for that same reason. Cold is never the biggest problem. Air quality and humidity are. Get as much air exchange as you can w/o subjecting your girls to drafts and deep snow. My girls laid eggs thru out the cold, which sucked as most of the eggs froze and cracked before I got home from work. If you make a door for your coop make it out of plexiglass so you get a little natural light in. I dislike coops that are windowless. Try and tarp or plastic the new outer wall(s)of your larger run that take the brunt of your wind- where did your stockade fence from the first pic go? That fence would make an awesome windbreak, or you can stack bales of cheap hay around your walls to give some wind protection. Chickens are very resilient to winter as long as they have lots of good quality feed, drinkable water, fresh air and draft protection. Even on the coldest days, my coop was open so the hens could get water, exercise and fresh air. Are you going to add stone or screen to the bottom edge of either run to discourage digging predators?
     
  10. dczymmek

    dczymmek In the Brooder

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    Jun 2, 2014
    New York
    From the edge of the wooden coop itself to the other edge of the tiny enclosed area built on to the coop is 4.3X6.4- this is straight from the site he purchased it from. Cover the run with a tarp and put some plastic or some type of covering on the sides of the large run.
     

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