Winter Coop Suggestions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by CityChook, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Hi All - I'm a long time lurker who has finally bit the bait. I joined BYC last weekend and my chickies (4 buff orps) arrive in 2 weeks. You guys are such enablers....

    I am currently trying to determine the best coop design for us (and my wallet). As soon as the snow breaks and the ground is thawed enough to dig (next 2 weeks) we will likely begin construction. I say "we" pretty liberally here - I will likely be doing a large amount of this work. And let's just say that I am a mom with a manicure. No building experience. But a lot of determination.

    I am limited by city ordinances to 5 hens, so I don't need to build for a growing flock.

    I had originally thought I'd build a walk-in style coop, 4x8. I was told that this is a good size for the least amount of materials waste. My husband thinks that it will be warmer if it's on/near the ground. I also want them to have plenty of space so that on those days that are sub-zero, they can just stay in the coop should they so desire.

    My worry is that with only 4 hens, a structure that big will be hard to keep warm in the winter. I am planning on putting in several windows, so that will help heat it up as well and we will wire it for electricity when we build so that a heat lamp can be added on those super cold nights (as well as a water-warmer).

    Would I be better off going smaller, like with a playhouse style coop (4x4 or 4x6 coop plus a run I'm thinking...) that is off the ground? Will the floor get too cold being off the ground? I could insulate the floor when I do the walls, but is that enough? Seems like the playhouse would give them a little more run space, but the coop isn't walk-in style.

    I need some experienced opinions! Thanks everyone!
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Welcome to BYC! Sorry I can't help you as I have no experience with small coops. tThere are many here who can and will. If you look through the links in the learning center and the coop competition you'll see some grand ideas!
  3. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Where do you live?

    I live in Colorado and we have sub zero temperatures for multiple weeks at a time here during the winter. We occasionally have tons of snow also.

    I have an 8x8 coop for my nine chickens. We sat the coop on cement piers with the floor of the coop just a few inches off the ground. We then, purposefully, had the siding go down into the dirt (that will cause the siding to eventually rot but in our dry climate it will take years so we chose to do it that way) to keep both wind, weather, predators and vermin out from under there. (We also buried 1" chicken wire down about 15-18 inches along the walls.)

    My floor is wood and my walls are 2x4s. We used R19 insulation (that's what we had laying around) and covered it with 1/4" sheathing type stuff, so the chickens wouldn't peck at the insulation.

    I have two windows (one is a 'real' glass window that I can slide open; the other is only a piece of wood that I can raise and close to allow even more air in for our hot summer temps. Both are covered with hardware cloth to keep out predators.) with one facing East and the other facing South.

    Our roof line is slanted toward the west to keep the hot afternoon sun out of the hen house and on the other three sides we have clear plastic to let light in for optimal laying potential through the winter.

    I have leghorns that have very large combs and didn't have any problems with them being too cold through the winter. My other chickens are listed in my signature line area below - none of them had any issues either.

    Here's a picture of what I'm talking about just to give you an idea.[/URL]

    Obviously the smaller the coop the easier to keep the girls warm. However, having the ability to walk in is huge in my eyes so I wouldn't give up the walk in factor for a smaller coop.

    Good luck.

    Edited to add: I had no issues with hen pecking until my girls had to be locked inside for four or five days due to a snow storm. They then started pecking at each other... I would go as large as you feel you can just for the factor of giving them more floor space if they do have to be locked inside for any length of time. Also - I found giving them a flock block made a huge difference in lowering their feather picking.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  4. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    Have you considered a Chicken Tractor? there are many different designs. you can make it big or small depending on your needs and can move it around if need be. Just do a search for tractors here to give you some ideas
  5. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

    Apr 16, 2007
    Evening Shade, AR
    Hi and Welcome to BYC!!! [​IMG]

    Skip and I have 3 small coops because we are renting our place and needed them to be portable for when we finally move.

    Our Playhouse Coop is 78" x 78" x 78"...perfect for just a few birds (we raise Bantams) and at 5' 2" I can easily stand up in it. It sets on a foundation of cap blocks to keep the wood from being in contact with the ground.


    Our 2 smallest coops sit on 2' frames to add more run space. We've not had a problem with the cold with them raised because we use the deep litter method (in all 3 coops) which helps to insulate the floors.

    Modified Chick-N-Barn

    Post Brooder Coop

    Hope this helps!

  6. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Oh my stars, you folks are fast. Thanks for the replies. This is exactly what I was looking for! I have spent considerable time in the coop design and learning sections of this site - it's amazing. And a bit head-spinning. I never realized that I had so many choices in coops!

    BTW, I'm in Minneapolis. Sorry - I thought that was below my avatar, but I can see that it's not. I'll have to work on that one.

    Thanks again - k
  7. ctcasper

    ctcasper Songster

    Apr 4, 2008
    welcom to BYC...I am also a new chicken owner from Minnesota. From by Mille Lacs Lake. My husband and I are using an old 8x10 shed and we are hoping for 6to 10 hens....though i am not sure how likely that is out of our current flock.... anyway, i think he is going to run a water line from our outdoor boiler to a heater coil for them in the winter. I have heard everything from a small light bulb or nothing being used to a full time heat lamp or other source of heat. We are going to use a thermostat to use the least amount of energy... good luck.
  8. Nuggetsowner:)

    Nuggetsowner:) Songster

    Aug 2, 2007
    Hello fellow Minnesotan! I must tell you I am from southern MN and I have one coop that is 8X10 with a 10x12 run. The coop holds 7 laying hens. It was not difficult for them to keep warm this winter and I did not add a heat lamp except when we had 6-7 nights in a row with temps well below zero. I did however add a lamp for additional "daytime" hour to help with egg laying. My coop sits on the ground.

    Once again WELCOME and I hope this info helps!!
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Personally, I would recommend *against* a tractor, it will be real hard to keep simultaneously warm enough *and* ventilated enough in the cold part of winter.

    I would definitely vote for a 4x8 walk-in coop. I know it is more area for the chickens to 'keep warm' in the winter but there are MANY advantages. It will also lose heat more slowly than a smaller-volume coop would. It MUCH more pleasant for you than a merely reach-in coop - it will enable you to go inside and close the door behind you when doing chicken chores in winter, hence less heat loss (and aggravation). It will give the hens decent indoor room when outdoors is too unpleasant. And if you find yourself having temperature problems, you can always either section part of it off, or make an aluminized-bubblewrap 'hover' over their roost, or even run a lamp etc (does not necessarily have to be a heat lamp) on the coldest nights. If the coop is well insulated I suspect you will not need a lamp.

    Raised or on the ground? My suspicion is that you're better off building on a small insulated slab. Run insulation all around the 4 sides so there is a thermal break from the cold ground. But I don't have experience with that sort of small coop - I have a small tractor for summer use, and a 16x40 cement-floored insulated building for the winter [​IMG] I will tell you, tho, that the big building never got below -5 C (which is the mid/upper 20s F) all winter despite no heat, just 2 small windows, and only 2 chickens in it, although I live in Ontario Canada and it is pretty cold all winter. There is something to be said for tapping ground heat [​IMG]

    Or you *could* do a raised coop and insulate the cr*p out of the floor. I have no proof which would be better in a small coop - so listen to what other people say too [​IMG]

    Good luck and have fun,

  10. Animallover606

    Animallover606 Songster

    Apr 12, 2008

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