When/How to Winterize?

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

  1. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    Hmmm.... You've all got me wondering about my coop design now. I have 5 standard girls, so the inside dimensions were going to be approx. 5' x 4.5'. The coop was going to be raised above the run, with the actual coop itself ranging from about 4' to 5.5' high (inside dimensions). Coop will be fully insulated (walls, floor ceiling) and wired for electricity. Window on south and west (with shutters), though will be in deep shade most of the time in winter, so probably won't have a lot of solar gain in the southern window.

    First concern I ran into was the ventilation given the interior height of the coop. Figured I didn't want them catching a draft while on the roost, so we're thinking of adding a cupola with vents that would be used more often than the vents near the roofline (obviously, will be able to open and close the vents to control air flow).

    I had planned on using a heat lamp, too, but now I'm not so sure after reading Smoky's post. But then again, since my coop is so small, is there a chance that the entire coop will be fairly evenly heated with that single heat lamp? Has anyone out there had success with a single heat lamp in a small coop like this? Hoping it will work and perhaps eliminate the health problems Smoky thought were assoc. with the larger temp variations.

    As far as the waterer, our is a 3 gal plastic hanging waterer. I was thinking of just aiming a regular light bulb down toward it on really cold days if I found freezing was an issue. Anyone had success with this?

    If you notice any potential problems with these ideas, please let me know! Thanks for sharing all of your great tips.
  2. Smoky73

    Smoky73 Lyon Master

    Feb 8, 2007
    If you are planning on insulating, I probably wouldnt worry about heating it even with one heat lamp. I didnt use any last year and they did great and we had a seriously bad winter with all the snow we had. Your coop will be small enough that their body heat should keep it pretty warm.

    BUT, if you do decided to put one in on REALLY extreme cold nights, seriously attach it with chain to the ceiling and again in more than one area on the lamp. The last time I used heat lamps which was 2 years ago, I almost burned down the coop because my well attached heat lamp came undone somehow. (another reason I dont want to use them)

    If you can do a waterer on a base instead, that would be preferable. I tried the actual 240w heat lamp on the waterers in the past and no mater where you have the light bulb it wont thaw it all so I doubt a regular light bulb will do anything. If you keep it near the base where they drink from, the top part will turn to ice and if you keep it near the top, the bottom will freeze. frozen water will expand and crack the plastic as well. You could also change the waterer often if you are able and not have to worry about it. Dump at night and refill in the AM.
  3. 4myHennyPenny

    4myHennyPenny Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    EEEKK! Hadn't really thought about securing it at more than one point because of the fire hazard. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Good to know about the problems with keeping a hanging waterer thawed with a light. I guess I'll keep in mind that I may have to switch to a galvanized on a base (above light) if the hanging is freezing too often. Hoping to just fill once a day; we'll see.

    Any other thoughts re: positioning of vents in a coop that's got a shorter interior height like this? Wondering if anyone else has tried the cupola idea, particularly in a cold winter climate.
  4. spottedtail

    spottedtail Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    The standard chicken breeds are pretty hardy.

    About insulation...It gets cold here in Minnesota (the frozen tundra), yet it's not necessary to insulate the coop. A double wall provides acceptable protection from the elements, especially if you have decent window area on the south side.
    Someone further back on this thread mentioned the problem of mice in insulation..I agree..they go together like pie and ice cream.
    But do eliminate the low drafts and give adequate high ventilation.

    About water...If electricity is avaible, a heated dog bowl enclosed in a 2 x 4 wire barrier can't be beat.
    We used to use a regular galvanized waterer on a heated platform. But the water level is shallow, so it got dirty quickly, and it often partially froze. Plus it was a hassle to take apart and put together everyday for refills. In my opinion, it's junk.
    On the other hand, a dog bowl is much deeper so dirt settles to the bottom and clear water stays on top. No need to change water every day! We just add daily and change once a week. Easy. The built-in thermostat saves money too.

    About heat lamps...I've never seen them used for adult poultry in winter. That idea is new to me.
    I'd be concerned about condensation, fire hazards, and ruining the natural hardiness of my hens.

    Good luck,
  5. greginshasta

    greginshasta Songster

    Jul 26, 2007
    Mount Shasta, CA
    Quote:Could you expand on this please? Petsmart has heated dog bowls for $15 and I recently purchased one. What's the idea with the wire barrier?
  6. spottedtail

    spottedtail Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    Hi Greg,

    The 2" x 4" wire mesh keeps the hens from getting into the dish.
    And since it's just 2" wide, the hens will have a harder time flipping water about.

    It's construction is somewhat difficult to describe, but here it goes:

    1- Cut a length of wire mesh, enough to snugly wrap around the perimeter of the bowl. The 4" openings should be vertical. And cut it so that it is five 4" sections high.

    2- Cut out the 2nd from bottom horizontal wire so that you now have a bottom section that is 2" wide and 8" high.

    3- Cut out all the horizontal wires above the 8" wire. This leaves only the vertical wires which should be 12" long.

    4- Form a snug cylinder around the bowl with the 2" x 8" section on the bottom. Crimp it together.

    5- Form thes 12" wires into a cone and cap them with an appropriately sized upside-down funnel. The wires should run through the narrow opening and be bent over to keep them in place.

    That's all there is to it.
    It probably works a bit better with a tapered bowl so that you can push the cone down for a tighter fit. It's still easy to take off once a week for bowl cleaning.

    I can't post any pics here, but if you need a pic, e-mail your address to [email protected] and I'd be happy to mail you a photo or two.

    Good luck,
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2007
  7. SillySilkies

    SillySilkies In the Brooder

    Aug 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    I'm in NJ and it can get a mite cold here, too. I built a 4' X 8' coop (Ceiling 8' high) and hang a single red heat lamp (the same one I brooded them with) in the coop once it really starts to get cold out at night. I have found that it is enough to keep the temp above freezing in there. The lamp has a metal grid over the front of it. I clamp it to one of the ceiling beams, but also loop a chain through the handle and secure it w/ a double end clip to a hook eye I screwed in the beam. I secure the electric wire away from the lamp (v-shaped nails) onto the wall...this way should the clamps ever give way, the lamp will just hang loosely from the chain and is in no danger of burning the cord.

    I also use large heated dog water bowls in the coop for the past few years....they work like a charm!
  8. All this talk about winterizing got me in gear last weekend and insulated most of my coop. I still have to get my straw in but waiting on dh to bring me a straw bale. I might just have to go get it myself. We've had a few cool days here in South Dakota, but it's warmed back up. The evenings are nice.
  9. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    Just wanted to add my 2 cents. [​IMG] I read in the Backyard Poultry magazine that a guy took two large round bales of hay and unrolled them in his chicken run to a depth of about six inches. It gave the chickens something to pick at all winter and mulched the hay and as an added bonus.... some of the seeds still dropped to the bottom and the next year they had no weeds but lots of good eating for the chickens all spring/summer. That is something we are definitely going to do this winter. My dh wrapped the walls in plastic and then put up plywood all around. He also used foamboard on the ceiling...where the chickens wouldn't destroy it. With the deep litter method on the flooring and a reg. light bulb or a red one, I am not worried about my chickens this winter.

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