What is Too Cold for the Chicken Coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by prairiehousewife, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. prairiehousewife

    prairiehousewife In the Brooder

    May 27, 2009
    Our coop is just an old shed that came with our house, so it's not insulated and it's rather breezy. It's maybe 6x8 or so. I'm wondering, as a winter settles in here in SD, how cold is too cold for the chickens? I have 7 total and a 10 slot nester deal, so they all have a spot to nest/sleep at night, though most like to roost on the 2x4. Will they gather together as it gets colder? I have a heat lamp out there I can plug in at night, but wondering what the best way to winterize would be. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  2. schmije

    schmije Songster

    Aug 25, 2008
    Peoria, IL
    I can't help much, but the chickens can survive surprisingly low temperatures. The biggest winter problem that we deal with is keeping the water thawed. We put a heat lamp on the waterer, and that just keeps it thawed out. We don't do anything more than that for our chickens, but our coops are pretty draft-free. The chickens huddle close together on the roost to keep warm. I'm sure your winters are quite a bit colder than they are here in central IL. Maybe somebody in a climate closer to yours can help more.
  3. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Songster

    Mar 20, 2010
    Northern Kentucky
    Close up the holes,gaps between boards and other places the wind can blow through. Chickens can stand a lot of cold but it's the drafts that can kill them. There are some members here from Alaska that keep chickens and have few problems with the cold.

  4. I say eliminate the drafts. That will be your most important way of helping your birds.

  5. lightfoot

    lightfoot Chirping

    Oct 19, 2010
    NW minnesota
    look in the past-posts about winter ventilation. thats what i did and i'm a little north of you.
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    You mentioned that the shed is "breezy," which will be your biggest issue. You'll want to make sure it's draft free, no breezes/moving air. As was already mentioned, that could kill your birds. That being said, you do want ventilation, but you want it up high, well above the birds roosting area, so that icy wind can't blow on them. Really pile up your bedding. Depending on how many birds you have compared to the size of your coop, you may want to consider a huddle box for them...
    Many opt for heated waterers rather than supplemental heat (and if your roof isn't insulated, any heat will go right through anyhow), as it really gets old breaking out iced and refilling with warm water 2 or 3 times a day. Plus a heated waterer would create a tiny bit of warmth.
  7. surfchicken72

    surfchicken72 Songster

    please look up "patandchickens" big 'ol ventilation page...... and I was also told as long as there's no draft and ventilation is correct, they can handle up to 20 below

  8. pbjmaker

    pbjmaker Crowing

    May 9, 2008
    Central Iowa
    I agree - get rid of the drafts, pile up the bedding. I don't heat my coop and even my serama hen survived 3 Iowa winters just fine. Make sure the boards are flat side up - the chickens will roost with their bodies covering their feet to keep them warm. We just added some birds to our flock to make sure there was plenty of body heat to go around. I have only had one problem bird - my black copper maran roo lost the spikes on his comb last year and some of his toes. He kept walking in the water and incasing his feet in ice. He spent a good portion of the winter inside. [​IMG]

  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    In addition to my ventilation page you might also want to look at my "cold coop" page, link in .sig below, since it addresses exactly these sorts of issues [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,


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