To insulate....or not?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chick N Ug, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Chick N Ug

    Chick N Ug Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 11, 2009
    Boulder, CO
    Hi! This is my first post. [​IMG]

    We are building our first chicken coop in anticipation of our chicks which will arrive in April. We live on the front range of Colorado where winters get a bit chilly (below zero can and will happen at some point in the winter.)

    I have looked at several pictures of the coops on BYC and have noticed that most are not insulated. I am afraid the chickens will freeze to death when we reach our low winter temps. Anyone here from Colorado or nearby that can give us advice on insulating the coop?

  2. brooster

    brooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2007
    northwest Ohio
    what do your temps get down to? also if you insulate, you must cover it or the chickens will eat it and die, that may be why you dont see any that are insulated, it is covered. Chickens are pretty tough, as long as they have a dry draft frre environment with plenty of fresh food and water they are fine, also a south facing window heats the coop a lot from the warm sun. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2009
  3. jubylives

    jubylives Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2007
    Central Iowa
    It gets pretty cold in Boulder. Colorful place Boulder is. My wife is from Longmont near there. I'll actually be near there in June for vacation. WHOO HOO!!!!!!

    Anyway, yes insulate. Is it neccesary? Maybe not but if you insulate then you won't have to worry at night about them being little chickencicles. It's not a whether they will freeze to death or not. It's whether you want to or not. You'll get alot of opinions about this but I say, insulate.

  4. redoak

    redoak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2008
    Russia, NY
    I insulated my coop and I'm glad I did. The temps have gotten down to negative 20 F but it's never gotten below 0 F in the coop with insulation. On sunny days the windows all facing south heat up the inside nicely and the insulation doesn't let the heat escape too fast. I do have OSB on my inside walls so the chickens can't get at the insulation.
  5. Chick N Ug

    Chick N Ug Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 11, 2009
    Boulder, CO
    Thanks for the insight. I just realized how to search on this forum and have been able to find similar posts. I'll get the hang of this soon enough!
  6. brooster

    brooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2007
    northwest Ohio
    i would put it this way, its safer to insulate than to heat
  7. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    I insulated the roof of the coop since I had the materials and knew that if I didn't do it while I was building it, it would be a lot more difficult later. I never got around to insulating the walls and the chickens have survived and continue to lay eggs over this Western Maine winter with temps down to 30 below F.

    People freeze when temps get to zero. Chickens don't if you keep the coop dry ventilated and draft free.

  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't know how cold it gets where you are, but you probably don't NEED (as such) to insulate.

    However, the only disadvantage of insulating is that it costs a bit more time and material (remember you have to cover the insulation with plywood, old panelling, or whatnot so the chickens can't peck it). In compensation you get a couple of advantages that are never a bad thing and can often make your life and your chickens' easier and pleasanter:

    -- an insulated coop holds its heat better/longer (heat from daytime warmer air temps, heat from solar heating thru windows, heat from the chickens' own body heat production, etc) and thus all other things being equal will stay a bit warmer than an uninsulated one.

    -- consequently an insulated coop can be given more ventilation (i.e. you get better air quality) without making it real cold in there.

    -- also, and this is ESPECIALLY a big issue if you have metal siding or roofing but occurs in cold climates with plywood (etc) too, insulation prevents condensation and frost from forming on the insides of the walls/ceiling. Condensation and frost are bad because they trap moisture in the coop i.e. you end up not getting proper bang for your buck with your ventilation.

    I'd insulate unless there was a SIGNIFICANT reason not to, e.g. absolutely zero money available and nothing scroungeable right now. And if I didn't insulate I'd make sure to leave things in a state such that I could add it later, especially to the ceiling, if money or materials became available.

    Pat, whose coop (admittedly also very *large* and slab-floored and underpopulated with chickens, all of which contribute substantially too) has 6" insulated stud walls and a heavily insulated ceiling, and has not been below +22 F this year despite outdoor night temps of -27 F.
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We insulated using the stud/fibreglass/vapor seal/sheathing method, and I am so grateful we decided to spend the money and time on it. We are finishing up the hardest winter in a quarter century here, and it helped me to cope. That said, our coop was built into an existing barn, where we have always had a high level of insect and rodent control. I credit the feral cats we feed with leaving us without rodents of any kind. They have to travel a 1/4 mile to hunt them...

    Our minimum temperature in the coop with pop door open, was -5 Celsius. We did keep the hens in during a 5 day 'Siberian Express' when the wind chills were -41C, but like Pat, we have a lot of coop space so we had no troubles with feather picking or anything else. Hens laid well throughout, lowest collection day was 9/12, and we usually had 11 or 12 eggs.

    No frostbite, no predation, no invasion of pests/rodents.

    Details here:
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009

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