Winter Coop out of Straw Bales

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Kristy in WA, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. Kristy in WA

    Kristy in WA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 3, 2009
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    I was reading an article today about chickens and it said to have your coop done, BEFORE you get your chickens. Well, that is not the case here, but I'm not worried so much for this spring and summer. I can fabricate something quickly for my babies that will arrive in April by the time they need to be outside. But I began thinking about this winter and what we could do if the "real" coop didn't get built this summer.

    I had the idea of building a cube out of straw bales stacked like legos into a square box, allowing the ground to be just the dirt, and using the deep litter method with pine shavings. My husband is very handy and could figure out how to make a door and a couple windows, and I thought of using plywood for the roof, with a tarp over the whole thing, and then metal corrugated sheets on top of the plywood so we could pull the snow off without tearing the tarp.

    So, is this CRAZY? I thought it would be nicely insulated for northern Washington winters, and not too expensive to build, just in case we don't get the real coop done, which will be made out of wood with insulated walls, etc.

    So, I'm hoping for feedback on this idea from some experience chicken people, as I have never had any chickens before, so don't know if this would, or would not work for a makeshift winter coop. Thanks! Kristy
     
  2. Dar

    Dar Overrun With Chickens

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    that depends on how cold you get in Washington.

    Here we got down to -22c without the windchill my chickens would have frozen to death in a coop out of straw bales. I also had a problem with the water freezing. I had a 1500w heater going 24/7 in the coop + a 250W heat lamp and I noticed the other day that one of the chickens has some frost bite wounds on her comb
     
  3. coffeelady3

    coffeelady3 Froths Milk for Hard Cash

    Jun 26, 2008
    Tacoma, WA
    There are a few people on here who have done that. Actually, the straw bale coops are pretty well insulated and do well in the cold weather.
     
  4. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about predator control?? A hungry fox, coyote, or raccoon could tear through straw bales in no time...
     
  5. Kristy in WA

    Kristy in WA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess I could line the outside with some kind of wire. I thought a haybale would be pretty thick to get through. But, that is the type of info I was looking for, since I don't know anything about all this yet! Kristy
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    They are a predator buffet (there is really no way to predatorproof them in wintertime) and in some climates will become a mouse and/or mold farm as well.

    I really really wouldn't do it, it is a big gamble; but sometimes you can get away with it, especially if you are happy with saying 'oh well' to problems.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  7. Leah-yes I know I'm crazy

    Leah-yes I know I'm crazy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So in my hand I have a copy of Chicken Coops by Judy Pangman, Storey Publishing 2006. They call it an Egg-loo and they did in ingloo shape with a tarp secured to the top. Would I want to do this? No. Would I do it if there were no other options? Yes. IMO it looks like it would become a pain in the tailfeathers to deal with. I've read about strawbail houses and some claim that a bail of straw has a r-value of 50 or more. What it's going to come down to is the process of collecting eggs, feeding and watering. That's where it looks inconvenient.
     
  8. Kristy in WA

    Kristy in WA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Would putting corrugated metal roofing all along the outside bottom keep the predators out? It would be approx. 2 ft high, and tight to the ground. Would they dig all the way under an entire haybale? And if so, could they get that done in one night?? Help me understand why feed and water would be a pain? I think the dimentions would be roughly 6 1/2 ft x 12 ft. That's enough space for 18 chickens, and I should have 16 if all my chicks live. I would also put something heavy on top of the tarp that reached all the way to the ground. We get at least 2 ft of snow, which would then cover all around the edges. It seems it would be pretty difficult for a coon to get in?? But I don't know raccoons. I have never seen one around here, but I'm sure we have them. I've only seen coyotes, but not near our property. We have lots of dogs, although in kennel runs, but they bark a lot and make a lot of noise. We do have 1 yard dog, but she's a lazy girl in the winter and stays in the garage near the wood burning stove, so I don't think she'd be much help against predators during the winter. Thank you all for your input. I am taking in all the advice, and responding with more questions, so I can sort this all out!

    We have friends with chickens that live in rickity old thin boarded barns with no insulation. They have been fine. Our weather gets around zero degrees and sometimes under during the last of December and January, and hovers in the teens for much of the winter. I just thought haybales would be easy, cheap, and thick enough to be good insulation. All input is welcome! Thanks! Kristy
     
  9. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My grandparent's had a farm near Inchelium when I was growing up and while all the effort was going into building the house for the people, the chickens lived in a straw bale house. My grampa found an old glass door and put it in so we could watch them. He tarped the roof over and had no problems.

    Their area is bad for coyotes, but I don't recall ever having lost any to them when they were actually in the henhouse. Free-ranging was a different story, but that's another post too.

    I used to gather the eggs in there, and while it was rather gloomy on dark mornings, it was also warm. Go for it!
     
  10. Dar

    Dar Overrun With Chickens

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    Leah-yes I know I'm crazy :

    So in my hand I have a copy of Chicken Coops by Judy Pangman, Storey Publishing 2006. They call it an Egg-loo and they did in ingloo shape with a tarp secured to the top. Would I want to do this? No. Would I do it if there were no other options? Yes. IMO it looks like it would become a pain in the tailfeathers to deal with. I've read about strawbail houses and some claim that a bail of straw has a r-value of 50 or more. What it's going to come down to is the process of collecting eggs, feeding and watering. That's where it looks inconvenient.

    just crawl right in there with the chickens and collect the eggs and to your chores...lil chicken poop never hurt anyone.... [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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