Very cold climate

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by crayon, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. crayon

    crayon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Hillman Michigan
    I live in Northern Michigan and our winters are really hard- about 100 inches or more in snow fall. We basically have 3-4 feet of snow on the ground from December to March (sometimes April).

    Currently we have 10 chicks- but next spring I will let some ladies brood and I want to grow the flock to about 25 ish in the next 2 years. So my questions- what size coop should I build to make sure they are happy and clean this winter? I have to plan now for this and I also want to make sure it will expand and house my wanted flock as well....

    Ideas? Images?

  2. OkChickens

    OkChickens Orpingtons Are Us

    Dec 1, 2010
    Owasso, Oklahoma

    For the climate you are in I would allow as much room as possible for comfort when being cooped up all winter like around 6-10 or more sq ft of coop space. For the low end around 12 X 12 making 5.76 sq ft per bird, or the middle 12 X 16 making 7.68 sq ft per bird or at best a 12 X 20 making 9.6 sq ft per bird.

    I understand that this costs quite a bit of money making a large coop. The 12x12 would work good but I would think there would be feather picking from just being bored. It is all a personal choice about space. Also look into the Deep Litter Method here on BYC.

    As for making a building/coop that size look into a storage shed that size and convert it or have some fun and build it! Check Craigslist for deals. Sheds are really easy to come by here for a decent price. Good luck and keep us informed!
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Planning a large coop is helpful but your real target areas are having a covered run or porch so the birds can go outside year around and properly ventilating the coop without allowing cold drafts to fall onto the chickens while they are laying and roosting.

    Your snowfall is a blessing due to it's insulating qualities, When the temps get below -10 simply turn on a heat lamp(s) or have one set up on a thermostat. Maybe have adjustable vents like forced air furnace floor vents with flaps that close cut into the walls and gables. Look at having a gable vent opposite the roost preferably on the downwind end of the coop so it draws air out of the coop. This will help remove the moist warm air and ammonia fumes from the coop whils drawing fresh air in thru the chicken's run door. Remember you do not want to retain the body heat generated by the chickens inside the coop for health reasons. also letting the birds out to a dry run allows them to scratch and dustbath too.

    Also remember to keep the predator proofing tight and secure to the roof as with the increased snow depth comes easier access to higher on the sides of the run by predators.

    Look at hanging a couple roost bars or branches in the run too. This gives the birds a place to sit, up off the ground, while outside sunning and enjoying fresh air that hold them off the cold ground and water during spring breakup.

    Look at setting up a snow free containment system for the dirty chips or straw during the winter that is close and handy to the access point of the coop. You will have a lot due to the lenght of winter and you really don't want to haul it thru the snow to dispose of it.

    Just a few points on things I've used and observed up here.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    We have cold snowy winters too, though perhaps not *as* cold snowy as yours if you're in the U.P. I would never contemplate giving my chickens less than 10 sq ft apiece indoors (plus roofed, 3-1/2-sides windblocked run) and even that's tight, bigger is better (most of mine get 15+ sq ft apiece indoors plus aforementioned run). I don't open the popdoor on days that experience has proven they just *aren't* going to go outside, but that's a pretty small percentage of the time. Although I may only have the popdoor open for 3-4 hours sometimes.

    The larger your coop is for a given # chickens, the less ventilation you will need open and thus the less-cold it need be in your coop (larger size per se also helps keep things from being excessively cold indoors). But, it is smart to have electricity available if at all possible, in case you do find yourself wanting to run a lamp somewhere to provide a warm spot they can go to if they need to.

    I *highly* recommend a roofed and mostly-windblocked run, btw. Not super cheap but super worthwhile. They like it on hot summer days too. Make sure it's located so the popdoor is on the E or SE side of the coop, so that winter winds are not such a problem.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Hi neighbor.

    The barn shown in my avatar is 20x24. There was a stretch last winter that the hens were inside, except for little "step outs" for weeks on end. The rules or formulas of how many square feet per bird stated here so often simply don't strictly apply to our region. You cannot build it too big. Seriously. The more room they have to mess around the better. I have a dirt floored area, inside the barn, which is their "playground". I turn them loose into it almost every day. They love to dig and dust bath, peck and just do what chickens do. Indoor gym class, sort of. [​IMG]

    An outdoor "run" isn't of much use when the ground is frozen and there's 60" of snow on it.

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