When/How to Winterize?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Nyna, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. Nyna

    Nyna Songster

    Jul 3, 2007
    Western Montana
    Well, it is getting pretty cool here in Montana! This will be my first chicken winter. I have a coup that is made out of 1/2 my tool shed. It has a cement foundation, electricity and a window. I am wondering how I should winterize. Should I insulate the walls or the door with anything? The door is just a hand made thing out of OSB and 1x4's. I was planning on covering the window with something. Also, should i put a inferred heat lamp in? Would it go above their roost? When would I have it on? Wow- i sure will feel bad for them this winter when we are nice and toasty inside with our wood stove and hot tub! [​IMG] When do you other northerners start to winterize?
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Hi - I haven't been through a winter yet with my chickens but this is what I've learned and how I'm going to do it here in Colorado.

    I did insulate the walls. I use wood shavings on the floor and am using the deep litter method. That means I put the first, clean 3" in at the beginning of the summer and am adding about two inches at time as needed. I keep turning it every couple of weeks. This will accumulate to a good foot or more (I'm thinking a lot more!) depth through the winter and I'll clean it out next spring. Doing this I do need to make sure I keep the shavings dry and thus, at times, I've had to shovel out a bit here and then (usually around the waterer) and toss it outside.

    Although you don't want drafts in the coop you do want airflow or ammonia will build up and that is dangerous for your chickens. So - don't make it too airtight with the insulation and closing up windows and doors.

    I have been told that you shouldn't let the inside temp of the coop get below 32 degrees F - I would love to hear from others here who have other thoughts on that. I've considered using an emitter bulb to heat the inside but they are expensive. Emitter bulbs give off only heat - no light. I'm not sure that I want to leave a light on 24/7 for the chickens but, again, I'm learning and would like more info on that also.

    I know that the most important thing is to keep them draft free and dry! If you have birds with large combs you should slather them with vaseline on real cold nights to keep the comb from freezing.

    Hope this helps some.
  3. AK-Bird-brain

    AK-Bird-brain I gots Duckies!

    May 7, 2007
    Sterling, Alaska
    Mrs. AK-BB here...
    We got down to -30F last winter with no casualties...
    That was our first winter with chickens, too. They seem to do well on their own figuring out when to huddle inside under the heat lamps, so as long as there's heat, food, and clean unfrozen water, they're good!
  4. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    Good ideas...Here in West Virginia we have winters below zero sometimes.....I have had my chickens for 3 years now....I don't heat my henhouse unless the temps are below zero or the windchill gets to that point..I use a 250 red heat lamp secured from the rafters when zero weather hits.....Just enough to keep the temps bareable ....my hens and roos do fine.....mine is insulated.....I also make sure they have scratch or cracked corn in the evenings to help them keep heat in their bodies.....I do use wood shavings on the floor and do the deep litter method too...keeping things dry as possible and tossing wet out..you want some airflow but not drafty....I use heated dog water bowls to keep the water from freezing too.....What I have are large standard hens and rooster so they do just fine.....
  5. Nyna and Chirpy-

    I know CO has many days of sunshine each winter; not so sure about Montana.

    I have posted on other occasions about solar coops. If you have good southern windows, your coops can gain a lot of heat on sunny days. I had insulated shutters that I closed over the windows at night, to help keep the heat in. That's the big question: how to keep all that wonderful daytime heat from escaping at night?

    Thermal mass is the answer. You insulate the OUTSIDE of the coop (blueboard is best) and add mass to the inside. Adding a double thickness of sheetrock is one easy way to do so. Another easy way is to add a few (2-3) dark-colored 30 gallon trash cans of water in a place where the sun will hit them most of the day. Or, if you don't get regular sunny days, use smaller, one-gallon containers. For years in Indiana, I had cold frames and lined the north wall with one-gallon milk jugs which I had painted black. I never had supplemental heat in those cold frames, and the only time I ever had a freezing problem was one two-week cloudy spell with temps going into the negative teens every night.

    If those kinds of ideas interest you, search "solar greenhouse" on the internet, and you'll find more.

    I have also kept an active compost bin in my greenhouse before, just for the heat it gave off. I think the hens might go crazy on it, but its something to thing about, too!
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  6. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Songster

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County

    Chirpy has the right idea! I am in Western PA (still snowing in April)

    I am going to put a few bails of straw against the North Wall [​IMG]

    If you can only insulate one wall this is the one to do! How ever you insulate!

    Cold Hardy Breeds also helps!
    what kind do you have?

  7. birdnutz

    birdnutz Songster

    Mar 6, 2007
    I'm thinking about using these. After -30 below with -50 wind chill last year. I imagine Montana had the same. Expecting it again this year.
    sorry not real sure on how to add a link. Just copy and paste.
  8. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    This will be my first year with chickens and I'm just off Lake Ontario in Upstate NY. It gets pretty darn cold and WINDY here so I decided to insulate my coop. I'm opting out on heating it though because I was told if the chickens get used to the heat lamp or heating source, they could be in trouble if the power goes out. I have a tractor so I will move it close to the house in the winter and have it exposed to the South in hopes the sun will hit it and get it warm, even though the sun rarely shines here in the Winter.

    Thanks for all the other advice. I'll use it 'cause I know the kids will have a hard time if we lose one.

    BIG-BIRD In the Brooder

    Aug 16, 2007
    Well yesterday I went some magonay plywood and some fiberglass insulation, I went down to the hen house and and basically did the whole thing in about 6 hours, I really started to feel the heat when I was in there, now the coop looks a lot smaller, I will go and the some pics.
  10. karri25

    karri25 Songster

    Feb 5, 2007
    Ok, I have been thinking about this for awhile too. The whole winterizing thing. I live in Arkansas so it doesn't get too cold (well to us it's freezing:D) but I worry that their water will stay frozen. I asked our co-op about insulating our coop and they said that in Arkansas it's not needed. I think I will cover their window, put in extra straw, and add two heat lamps. I'm just worried about the whole frozen water thing. WE used to have horses and that was bad enough. Is there anyway that we can keep their water unfrozen for free or under $20.00??????

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