To close the coop door or not?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ktribe808, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. Ktribe808

    Ktribe808 Chirping

    Jan 2, 2015
    I have three Rhode Island Reds which produce plenty of eggs for my husband and I. I had a coop built for them (around 6' by 8') in a corner of an old shed we have and they have three nesting boxes, 2 perches, and areas for food and water, as well as a nice large window. I also had a nice large outdoor pen build for them, approx. 12' long and 6' wide and they have two branch perches out there, a dirt bath and another waterer and feeder. I would love for them to be free-range but I fear the neighbors would not take kindly to them doing so, hence the big pen. The pen is fenced in of course and has a slanted metal roof. For the cold weather (we live in PA), I had the pen "wrapped" in greenhouse film, which keeps the pen dry, the drafts out, and lets plenty of light in. For being the "dead of winter", my girls are still producing an average of 2 eggs a day (one day last week I got FOUR!!!). On a sunny day, there is the "greenhouse effect" which warms up the pen nicely. There is ventilation inside the shed and in the pen (a slight gap between the building and the frame of the pen). There is straw in the coop and in the pen and I clean up droppings daily. I do have a heated base for the inside water fount.

    Often the pen gets warmer than the coop and I have been leaving the coop door open to harvest some of the pen's warmth. The girls seem to like the door open. However, next week they are forecasting temps in the single digits. I am wondering if I should close the coop door or not. My one thought is if I do, perhaps a little heat will be generated by the fount heater. But I kind of doubt it would make that much of a difference since the pen is wrapped in greenhouse film and thus drafts are prevented, Any inpit would be appreciated. These are my first chickens and I adore them!
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    I would say leave the door open. I always give my birds the choice to go in or out. I know when the weather is bad I spend most of my time inside, but I still have those times when the house gets too small and my family gets on my nerves and I've just got to get out! I think the birds have the same feelings. We see lots more posts about behavioral issues in the winter when folks confine their birds to the coop, thinking it's too cold for them to go out.

    Keep in mind, your Rhode Island Reds were developed in New England, before electricity. The breed is very cold-hardy, pretty much the perfect breed for your area [​IMG]. Your set-up sounds lovely, my girls would think they were in heaven!
  3. WthrLady

    WthrLady Songster

    Jul 24, 2014
    WestOak, Nebraska

    I only close it at night and if the wind is howling directly into it.
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Open the door up - your birds are not nearly as fragile as you might think they are. As donrae pointed out, there is more chance of creating issues by keeping them cooped up. They are quite well suited to your climate. Cold is much less of a hazard to poultry than heat.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The only reason to close the pop door at night would be if your pen is not totally predator proof.

    And this:
    "There is ventilation inside the shed and in the pen (a slight gap between the building and the frame of the pen)"
    Makes me wonder if you do have enough ventilation. Most folks that wrap their runs leave the top 6-12" unwrapped on a side or two (depending on prevailing winds) for ventilation.

    Watch for any condensation on the inside of coop and run.
  6. Kildare49

    Kildare49 Songster

    Jun 29, 2012
    Central Wisconsin
    Leave it open. Mine free range. Snow and strong winds are the only things that slow them down.
    They have been spoiled so far this winter ( very little snow ).
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Stop thinking warm, start thinking dry. We as people, need warm, and we tend to push that over on to the chickens.

    Ventilation and space make for healthy happy chickens. Too small of quarters and dampness make for sick, mean chickens.

    Do not think smaller space = warm, what it really equals is DAMP. Think of 3-5 people in a car without heat in the winter time, the condensation builds up immediately.

    Mrs K
    2 people like this.
  8. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chirping

    Aug 1, 2014
    Mountains of WNC
    I'd vote open on the pop door as long as the whole setup is predator proof. Mrs. K's point about thinking dry is spot on, too. Good luck.
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Open - when at all possible let that ventilation work. We have an offset run - we couldn't build it enclosing the south side of the coop because of a tree, and going east we had space restrictions. The area behind the run is all a thick lilac hedge. So we built the pop door on the front and it's covered on two sides and the top. The side of the coop makes the third partial side and the entrance into the run is the only full opening. The opening faces south and the run is covered in greenhouse plastic so there's a good exchange of fresh air at all times, without howling winter winds getting into the coop. It's working like a charm. Our temps have been down into the negative teens more times than I care to count already this season, starting in November, and the chickens are just fine. It's hard to explain the tunnel - I'll pop a photo or two up to make it clearer.

    Finishing up putting the plastic on the run. In the upper left side of the photo you can see the tunnel from the inside. They enter from the open front, hang a sharp left and they're in the coop.
    The tunnel from the outside, just below and to the left of the window. We got a doggie door from the local Habitat Restore for a few bucks and it works fantastic...we never need to close it but we could if we wanted to.
  10. Domanique Fan

    Domanique Fan In the Brooder

    May 24, 2014
    North West Georgia
    The previous posters are correct, chickens suffer more from heat than cold. That said we make it their choice. Our chickens free range, we do not have an enclosed run, just a dog and some cats. So we let them out in the morning, not right when they get up but when time and weather permits. They come out most days, cold, raining, windy, no matter they are at it. This said they hang in our yard, they really don't stray. Being its winter we give them some scratch in the AM, a little bought greenery, sprouted grain. Whatever we happen to have to keep them entertained. Then at the end of the night in the coop thy go and we close them up. Next morning all over again.
    We have supplemental heat mainly for our peace of mind not the chickens. So far last year they stayed in twice. It was in the single digits and they still wanted out! So if your runs super secure leave it open. If your not sure or it would simply let you sleep better shut them up at night.

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