Rubbermaid type shed in winter - insulation needed?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Right On Reds, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Right On Reds

    Right On Reds In the Brooder

    Sep 13, 2009
    I'm currently using two coops for my 3 healthy hens. Two RIR fatties live in a Suncast (like a rubbermaid) shed. I lock the doors at night and open up in the day for them to run around the yard.

    Another is in a typical backyard coop, but I'm thinking that for the winter I'll put the two next to eachother and encourage the third hen to go into the shed.

    That said, and considering I live in NYC where the winters are cold but not like Alaska, what other things I can do to make their lives cozy in the winter?

    I can buy a heated water dish running an extension cord and I can buy a panel heater, once again running an extension cord, but if I don't have to I'd rather not as I always fear fire.

    If I left the shed doors open in the day and then at nite close them and maybe add a little heat, would that work?

    Any suggestions sure would be appreciated.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009

  2. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    I am very interested in this, too. I recently took an 8' x 10' Plastic Rubbermaid shed and made it a coop. We have reasonably mild winters, but I'd really like to insulate it.

    Hopefully someone will have answers! [​IMG]
  3. Right On Reds

    Right On Reds In the Brooder

    Sep 13, 2009
    Yup sure would like to know. Mine is off the ground and sits on pavers. Due to the shape of the floor (a slight upward arch almost) I'm reasonably sure there is some air caught between pavers and floor.

    I have the floor covered in hay. My hens prefer to sleep on the floor in boxes turned on their sides and covered in hay, in and out.

    My shed is about seven feet wide by 3 feet deep and about seven feet high. Their are air gaps all along the top plus a small vent. How big is yours?

    Even though I have steps that go up to a shelf about a foot and a half off the ground they don't go up there, though my pullet will go into the RIR's shed and up the step to lay an egg from time to time.

    Since it's a shed I have to keep at least one of the doors open a bit so that they go in and out. Works in rain pretty good, but I wonder if in freezing weather if it will be too cold in the shed to significantly warm up a la natural at night.
  4. briteday

    briteday Songster

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    In NY I would worry about the ventilation of a plastic shed on days when your chickens might have to stay inside, especially if it is for days on end. Chickens produce a lot of humidity and hopefully you have made some adjustments to the shed for ventilation. If I were in NY I might consider some styrofoam insulation board with 1/4" plywood over it so the birds don't eat it. Or if the shed is big enough I would stuff straw bales in it. If it is small I would place straw bales around it on the outside. On really cold nights (0 or so) when our 6 RIR hens were in a small-ish A-frame I would heat a good sized river rock on the hearth, wrap it in an old towel and put it under the roost at night.

    I'm not sure I would worry too much about winter in NC. Unless of course you have all bantams or game birds. My RIR hens easily handled freezing weather and snow all winter last year in a really awful A-frame.

  5. Instead of insulating, consider creating a huddle box for the small number of hens. There are many kinds, and as mentioned, a straw bale box is possible. There can also be build out of wood. If it gets too cold, or if there is a blizzard they can congregate in there- if possible put it up at roost level, or if you can't place 4x4 scraps in there for a roost and to keep droppings away from their feet and bottoms. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  6. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    No, I dont insulate my shed which it is a Royal Outdoor vinyl shed, pretty much like Rubbermaid. If they have a hollow core or honeycombed core, they do not need insulation. Do put plenty of shavings on floor and if you like, some grass hay for them to scratch up and keep themselves busy. Give a handful of scratch before they go to bed.

    They will be fine!

    Here is the pic of my shed. Vents are important because they do produce alot of body heat and moisture from breathing. They have a screened window and hardware wire frame door. When snow or blowing wind coming in from the east, I would cover up the door with either the plastic or the door that came with the shed which I lean it against the door with a heavy garbage can. It has been over five years I've had this shed and it has done well!

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  7. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    I have a rubbermaid shed I use as a coop. I do not insulate, don't even have a pop door.
    Course I live in the mild Seattle area, never gets below 0*F. Also I do supplement heat to keep the interior above freezing.
    As the other posters said. Chickens are pretty hardy.

    Imp- I used an extension cord for 6 years, just ran electricty properly a few weeks ago. So glad to be rid of the yellow cord hanging from the trees.

  8. Right On Reds

    Right On Reds In the Brooder

    Sep 13, 2009
    Okay. Please let me ask you this:

    The shed, at the point where the walls meet the roof is far from airtight. You can noticably see a gap and daylight. This is around the perimeter of the roofline. Maybe half a inch or so. I can tell you that there was enough of a gap that when I used to store wild birdseed in there, a mouse would come in to feed. It could apparently go in and out at will. I used to have very little stored in there, like birdseed, plastic chairs and a plastic seeder, so it was easy to see there weren't holes in the plastic floors. Slotted vents are too small too. it's the third from the right over the letter "R".

    There is also a small vent above the doors, but it is very small and slotted, so I'm sure it doesn't offer much at all..... maybe six inches by three. in total but air space for each slot is about an eighth of an inch.

    I had a fellow BYC'er from my area stop by and check it out and she thought it could possibly be enough, but we aren't sure.

    In my quest of the perfect solution I've thought about taking a saw to one of the doors and cutting out a little window or something. Can you cut that kinda of material to make a "window"?

    I intend to surround the shed in straw bales. I can take the back of the shed which sits against a six foot stockade fence and put leaves between them halfway high up as well.

    How would someone safely put in a panel heater in this shed? Could you suspend it from the ceiling?
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  9. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Mine is 7 x 3, like pix #4 in your link. I'll add a pix.

    In no particular order- I cut a hole in the back for the pop hole. I plan when I find the perfect window to cut another hole, in the side, to install the window. Seems sturdy enough. I might worry about adding weight to the doors.

    I made a second story inside. Food is in the bottom story; roosts and nest buckets are in the second story; everything comes apart and out for ease of cleaning.

    I only have 4-5 hens so no problem with ventilation.

    I also have one corner of the roof that doesn't quite snap into place. It's so small I don't worry about it. If your gap is large enough or weak enough for a predator to get in you might want to secure.
    I ran elec to the coop so there are 2 outlets in the coop. I have a light bulb inside and in the winter I hang a elec heater under the second story. (That way the hens cannot get to the heater)

    Hope this helps.

    I also added a couple shelves up in the eaves for storage.





    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009

  10. Right On Reds

    Right On Reds In the Brooder

    Sep 13, 2009
    I like what I saw in all the pics.

    In fact, I have coopshed envy.

    I think I'm going to try and cut an opening in one of the door panels and then cover it with wire mesh. I'll have to try and figure that out.

    Must also make some of those ramps! My nests are on the ground at it really eats away at the floor space they could have on days when they're closed up.

    If I could just get things done....... it feels like I have a zillion things to do....... then I think I'll be able to get very creative.

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009

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