Some basic COOP questions!!! ***PICS***

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Guitartists, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    #1- Is there a certain direction my coop should face?

    #2- If I opt to NOT build an insulated coop, can I stack straw bales around the walls to add a layer of insulation in the colder parts of winter?c

    Here is the spot I plan to put my coop...... Originally it would end up facing more or less south because of the way I'd like to run it along the bushes. The coop would be partially shaded during summer months. We can trim the branches to allow more light if we need it. The run should end up being mostly sunny with some shade. However, I am concerned about wind in the winter. I am wondering if this is a BAD place for the coop. I can't put it on the other side though, I like that the bushes provide privacy. The bushes will block East winds.



    Any suggestions?
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  2. greggy

    greggy Songster

    Jan 22, 2008
    Reed City, Michigan
    Having raised chickens in Michigan I would have to say that the heat is more an enemy than cold, but windows in the coop should face south to get the most of winter sunlight. Think of where the sun will be during the heat of the day when constructing a run. They need to get into the shade when it's hot.
  3. Brian

    Brian Songster

    Sep 30, 2007
    Jacksonville, ORegon
    You can always build shade. You can't build light. Since you have many cold months in Michigan, I'd build a coop with windows facing south. If you build a rectangle design, I'd put the long part toward the south so that you can have window(s) on that side. Why do I think this is so important, and so often overlooked? Your chickens will spend much of they life indoors, due to cold. If you can put some windows on the south, the hens can position themselves to sit in front of the glass. This means that you need to plan ahead and know where the sun will land. You can therefore put the window low, so they can lay on the floor in front of it, or, put it high so that they may perch in front of it. Keep in mind that during the summer, the angle of the sun is higher, so there shouldn't be significant unwanted heat gain.

    On the north side: put no windows! Have that wall be solid insulation. There is no heat gain from windows placed on the north side for you. You might do the same for the west side. The east side should have at least one good window. The hens will want to get some of that morning sun to start warming up! In my coop, there is one east facing window. The morning light shines through it, and through the garden shed portion of the structure, to land on the coop floor. Every morning when I go out the the hens, they are typically warming themselves in that light...and I don't live in a particularly cold place (Oregon).

    You are thoughtful to be thinking of the comfort of your birds in advance! Plan for the extremes, and imagine how the birds will live their lives during those extremes. How might they get the extra heat or cool that they desire? What can you do to help them out?

    Cold: most parts of the US don't need to insulate coops, but you are in the bitter cold north area, and need to do so. Insulate it, or straw bale it, yes. If you do the latter, then I'd recommend you build the entire coop out of the bales though, and not just one side. Don't just stack bales, Build it out of bales and cover it in stucco. You can't be casual about building with straw bales. If you have them exposed to the elements, they will be moldy and filled with rodents. Here's something else that folks usually don't consider: The ROOF! Insulate it! You can have a cup of coffee in a paper cup. Without a lid, it is cold in short order. Put a flimsy plastic lid on top, and is warm so much longer! Obviously heat rises, and you can cap a lot of it in by insulating the top! Also...consider cold hardiness when you select your breeds! Consult this chart:

    In short: insulate it (including the roof), put south and east windows in it. Make sure that these windows, when open during the summer months, will provide good air flow. Likewise, make sure the birds will get enough DIRECT sun through these windows during the cold or windy months.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Sure, pile strawbales up around the coop if you prefer. The only major downsides are that they can (well, *will* [​IMG]) become a mouse farm; it's hard to do the roof that way; and you'll have to buy new straw every year instead of buying insulation once. Make sure to leave good space around your vents so's not to obstruct airflow (yes, you still need good ventilation even in a Michigan winter!).

    Agree with Brian about the value of insulating under the roof.

    The only potential problem I'd see with that location for the coop is if the line of trees (junipers, cedars?) often funnels wind down alongside it, in which case you might be building the coop in a wind tunnel. What are snow deposition patterns like in the winter? If that area does NOT characteristically have less snow than elsewhere, I would not worry too much. And you could always erect some sort of windbreak just upwind of the coop. Make sure it's not somewhere that if part of the tree comes off it'll land on the coop [​IMG]

  5. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Songster

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    I am going to say yes! (even though I don't know what kind of coop you will have) bales of hay would be good for north & west walls!

    I am very close to Michigan so I will also add you also want cold hardy breeds with no insulation!

    I was very cold this winter I had a cement block building with heat lamp! My Brahmas & EE's did the best! with their pea combs they had no frost bite!

    All though my Rocks (& male cochins) are cold hardy but, I had alot of frost bite!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2008
  6. mmajw

    mmajw Songster

    Jan 31, 2008
    I try and not have any doors or windows on the north side. When will build our new one soon, it will also have outlets on the ceiling to make it easier to plug in heat lights. As far as a run my new one will also be tall enough to walk in with a door to get into it from the outside. Their door to get to the run will be one that can be closed on extremely cold days. Good luck
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  7. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Thanks [​IMG] The run will be off the long front of the coop.... running south. So it will have the long side facing south with windows facing south as well. I'm glad that worked out [​IMG] Looks like all of my breeds are cold hearty! yay! [​IMG] I am thinking about possibly dubbing the ones that will need it.... still looking into that. I will have nest boxes in the backside (north) of the coop. They will have a nice shady spot in the summer...we can always trim branches to add more sun if we need it, but it certainly will not be too hot.

    I was originally going to build one of those hexagonal type buildings... but we salvaged some pieces that have us going in a whole new direction..LOL
  8. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    I am going to do my best to insulate the floor and the roof (hadn't thought of that, glad you mentioned it) It's just that the way we are fashioning part of the coop, I really don;t know if it will be possible to insulate all or any of it. I will have to look into it more.
  9. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Also we are planning on covering part or most of the run with plastic to prevent it from filling up with snow. I am hoping that so long as we block it from getting in that even if it builds up a bit on the side that it will help to insulate from the wind.
  10. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Fellow Michigander here!

    It's a good idea to cover the run in plastic. That way, your flock can get outside during the winter but stay protected from those harsh winds. Just use a staple gun to stick it in place, then rip it off in the spring when it gets nice out again.

    I was thinking the same thing about the hay bales that others have already posted -- rodents. Wet, moldy hay doesn't smell all that great, either.

    Are you near a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store where you can get insulation for cheap?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: