Snow getting in coop.

sarahswank

Chirping
6 Years
Mar 25, 2013
180
12
88
Garden City, Kansas
So of course, it was 70*F yesterday, and today there is snow on the ground.... (stupid storm system just HAD to move our way :p)

I scrambled and beefed up the shavings and supplied some even more covered areas inside my coop for my 6-8 week old chickens to cuddle up under, atleast as an option to preserve more body heat. Everyone seems to have made it though the night just fine, but now I have some questions about my coop and what if anything I need to do to get it winter ready. (I know, I know, long way off, but I still worry.) My coop is 16'x16' by 6' high. It is planned to hold about 50 chickens in this space. (currently is it at 54 chickens)

My waterers were slightly frozen over. I think i am going to have to get a small solar panel so that I can have electricity out there to run a heated water dishes., but any other ideas for how to keep the water inside the coop from freezing with out electricity? (coop is on a piece of isolated property 10 miles from the house.)

also, do I worry about snow getting in though the small cracks in the wall? The wind was viscious last night. blowing extremely hard, but it was still shocking to see snow piled up on the side inside the building. I there is a small 2-3 millimeters at most ventilation crack along bottom board and that is where it got in. (the opposite side has a similar crack long the top wall to help provide air flow without drafts) So do I worry about snow being able to get in? or do I let it stay as it is and leave the ventilation hole alone?


anyways, here is what I did as a temporary measure to provide an even warmer area inside the coop since they hadnt really been out of the brooder for very long. I wasnt thrilled with having to use a trash bag filled with leaves and twigs as a "wall." but it was all I had at the last minute. It was hard to tell but there is a large pile of shavings and leaves under there for them to cuddle up in. It seems that the cold will stay around for a second day before it gets warmer. any suggestions for temporary improves to make?
 

Keltara

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,670
79
173
Small Town U.S.A., Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
That's really tough. Just curious why you have your chickens 10 miles away from where you live?? The problem with relying on solar for powering anything in winter, is that winter is usually very cloudy (solar needs sun) and snow will cover solar panels. If you are in a cold winter climate, then you really need some way to keep the water thawed, and short of several trips to the coop with fresh warm water every day, I can't imagine what you could do. Is there any possible way that before winter hits you could build a second coop closer to home where you can have electricity?

Kelly
 
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Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
33,220
65,733
1,392
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
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I think that the set-up you made to give the chicks a cuddle space look great.

The problem with the snow getting in is that then your humidity goes way up, and then your risk for frost bite goes way up.

So.... if it only happens when the wind blows super hard (say only 4 times a year), I would live with it, toss out the snow that came in when you check on the chicks, and call it good.

As far as frozen water......I can't help you with that, I always use electricity, or bring out super hot water twice a day.
 

sarahswank

Chirping
6 Years
Mar 25, 2013
180
12
88
Garden City, Kansas
That's really tough. Just curious why you have your chickens 10 miles away from where you live?? The problem with relying on solar for powering anything in winter, is that winter is usually very cloudy (solar needs sun) and snow will cover solar panels. If you are in a cold winter climate, then you really need some way to keep the water thawed, and short of several trips to the coop with fresh warm water every day, I can't imagine what you could do. Is there any possible way that before winter hits you could build a second coop closer to home where you can have electricity?

Kelly
Our house is inside city limits, and animal restrictions are VERY strict in the city. We bought this property basicly just so we could have chickens. Power company is being buttheads about turning on power to the property, claiming the wiring in our buildings are too old.... We are still working on estimates to get wired power vs. solar power out to the coop, barn and well. (yep, we are hauling water right now... oh so fun!) Best part of the whole power situation is that it was on when we bought the property, and instead of just transfering over the power to our name, they start complaining about wiring.. AFTER the sale was closed.
I think that the set-up you made to give the chicks a cuddle space look great.

The problem with the snow getting in is that then your humidity goes way up, and then your risk for frost bite goes way up.

So.... if it only happens when the wind blows super hard (say only 4 times a year), I would live with it, toss out the snow that came in when you check on the chicks, and call it good.

As far as frozen water......I can't help you with that, I always use electricity, or bring out super hot water twice a day.
Thanks! The wind does blow bad pretty often around here but usually in the spring and fall, not in winter, so that is a good thing.
One more thing to consider is that chickens will often molt during winter (I only have six, and they did often), which means they will need some source of extra heat when they have thinned feathers.
I forgot all about molting in winter! This is why I love asking for ideas! I have time to make things better for them and this is such an important thing to think about!
 

4 the Birds

Songster
9 Years
Oct 15, 2010
1,490
104
163
Westfield, Indiana
Having a coop 10 miles away has a lot of challenges!! Coops need to be visited daily to collect eggs, water, feed and any basic cleaning. It is possible to hook up a solar or wind powered water container to help thaw frozen water; Yet, it may be more costly than you are prepared to invest. Also it would not be fail safe during overcast and non wind conditions. Electricity would make your life ALOT easier. As far as the snow.... Even the smallest openings can pull in several feet of blowing snow! I would shore up small cracks. I like what you did with the smaller inside area to create a warm spot. Those dirt floors will get muddy with heavy rains or thawing snow. Snow can be a pain... I had to shovel the run several times this year!

 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
78
283
Wisconsin
It's good to put ventilation openings up under the eaves of the roof, to keep out snow and rain. 1/2" hardware cloth over openings keeps out predators and pests. You do need ventilation to let out excess humidity in the winter, as well as for a fresh air exchange. Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. In the summer, you'll need a lot more ventilation, to let out heat. Buildings can accumulate a lot of heat from the sun in the summer, if they're closed up. Plus, the chickens give off a lot of body heat. So, if this is a converted storage shed, you might want to think about how to add ventilation to it.

Hauling water in the winter is such a pain and we don't even have to drive anywhere. That's such a raw deal that the power was on when you bought it and now you can't get it connected. My husband wondered if you could disconnect the power from the buildings and then pressure the utility company to turn on the power. You could work on rewiring a little at a time, then, as you could afford it.

If you haul water twice a day in the winter, they could at least drink their fill then. Some people do that. Check out those black rubber bowls for livestock, too. They come in smaller, as well as larger sizes. You can kick the ice out of them and then refill, without them cracking and breaking. They also absorb more heat from the sun and stay unfrozen a tiny bit longer. This helps a lot on the days where it's barely freezing.

Good luck with all of this.
 

Reurra

Crowing
9 Years
Apr 11, 2012
2,142
926
317
Nova Scotia
We got snow in the coop this last winter because wind drove it in. My girls did fine though. I keep a little food grade DE along the edges of the coop, this seems to keep it dry and the humidity down. The only one to get frost bite was the rooster, the outer edges of his wattles got a bit blue. I also keep a deep litter of shavings to keep moisture down as well. I spread staw over areas that they didnt go to keep wet spots on the floor from gathering.

I have a concrete floor and it sweats when it gets warmer. Straw and shavings keeps the moisture locked up, and if it seems a bit moist after a while, I change out the shavings. One thing I would suggest is to make sure the cuddle space has no direct contact with the draft that is bringing in the snow.

Make a wind break to prevent the draft from getting to your birds. Drafts are killers. Another thing I do is stuff shavings and straw into cracks to help stop the draft. I placed straw bale around the bottom edge of the coop as well to help buffer against the cold. If you ahve snow coming up from under, I would get some bales down along those areas. I would also think about predators digging up under those walls. If snow can get in, a fox or coon could get in too.

Woodland Woman has some great advice. Make sure that fresh air can move at the top of the coop, this will help circulate moisture out. As a bird breaths, it lets off lots of steam, that can build up, along with steam from poop as well as ammonia fumes.
 
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sarahswank

Chirping
6 Years
Mar 25, 2013
180
12
88
Garden City, Kansas
Having a coop 10 miles away has a lot of challenges!! Coops need to be visited daily to collect eggs, water, feed and any basic cleaning. It is possible to hook up a solar or wind powered water container to help thaw frozen water; Yet, it may be more costly than you are prepared to invest. Also it would not be fail safe during overcast and non wind conditions. Electricity would make your life ALOT easier. As far as the snow.... Even the smallest openings can pull in several feet of blowing snow! I would shore up small cracks. I like what you did with the smaller inside area to create a warm spot. Those dirt floors will get muddy with heavy rains or thawing snow. Snow can be a pain... I had to shovel the run several times this year!
Thankfully the coop is between work and home for me, and home and his mom's house for my partner. LOL, we already know we arent going to be making money once you figure in GAS! We are hoping that rain and moisture will stay out of the building. If it becomes a problem we can dig down to the concrete and start using a buttload of shavings and/or sand, but we figure if this used to work for chickens before, it cant be that bad now...

It's good to put ventilation openings up under the eaves of the roof, to keep out snow and rain. 1/2" hardware cloth over openings keeps out predators and pests. You do need ventilation to let out excess humidity in the winter, as well as for a fresh air exchange. Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. In the summer, you'll need a lot more ventilation, to let out heat. Buildings can accumulate a lot of heat from the sun in the summer, if they're closed up. Plus, the chickens give off a lot of body heat. So, if this is a converted storage shed, you might want to think about how to add ventilation to it.
Thanks, we do have 2 LARGE(3'x5') screened windows that can be opened in the summer. This is actually an 80 year old chicken coop that was still standing when we bought the property. It hasnt had chickens in 20 years though. We did quite a bit of fixing it up and replaced anything that looked week.
Make a wind break to prevent the draft from getting to your birds. Drafts are killers. Another thing I do is stuff shavings and straw into cracks to help stop the draft. I placed straw bale around the bottom edge of the coop as well to help buffer against the cold. If you ahve snow coming up from under, I would get some bales down along those areas. I would also think about predators digging up under those walls. If snow can get in, a fox or coon could get in too.

Woodland Woman has some great advice. Make sure that fresh air can move at the top of the coop, this will help circulate moisture out. As a bird breaths, it lets off lots of steam, that can build up, along with steam from poop as well as ammonia fumes.
Thanks. The floor on that side is actually set at an upward angle, so the wind cant blow too far up inside (this coop sits at the top of a hill on that side, so we worried about horizantal wind when we were fixing it up). We worried about drafts ourself and that is why we chose to keep the openings at differnet levels, that way wind cant actually blow THOUGH the coop.I always thought that was the reccommended way to provide ventilation without drafts. There is actually concrete underneath the dirt floors and the gap available to preditors is still only a few milimeters. It is also the side to our run, so they will have plenty of problems getting in.
 

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