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Winter Coops

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rothjj, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. rothjj

    rothjj Hatching

    Jul 14, 2010
    Hi. I'm from northern Wisconsin where we experience sub-zero weather during the winter months. I plan on building a coop this winter and wondered if anyone can tell me what is the proper sized coop (square footage) for 8-12 chickens would be if I insulate and have a 100 watt bulb for a heat source while relying on just the bulb and body heat to keep the coop from freezing. Any info is appreciated.
  2. Minimum of 4 sq ft per bird for the coop.

    Minimum of 10 sq ft per bird for the run.

    Be very careful insulating too tightly. You want to prevent direct drafts on the birds while at the same time making sure there is adequate ventilation. You'd be surprised how well most chickens tolerate cold. The only "heat most folks use in their coop is to prevent the waterer from freezing.

    I'd recommend viewing the coop pages on this site as well as other coops in your area before you set out to build your own. You might be able to get by with less than you currently plan.

    Best of luck.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    IMHO the best thing for nasty severe cold winters is a LARGE coop, as large as you can stand to build. (I have 10-15 sq ft per chicken indoors, plus a roofed and winter-wind-protected run; from my experiences and for my personal tastes in chicken behavior/happiness, I would not try to go less than that)

    Insulate it as much as you can stand, including the ceiling. Design it to capture and retain solar heat well.

    Ventilate it well -- yes, you DO need to have ventilation open all winter (unless you're getting down to like -40 F some nights), it actually helps *prevent* frostbite.

    Then, if you think you need to add additional heating in the form of a lightbulb or whatever, knock together a (possibly temporary) PARTITION within the coop, like a boxed-in area around the roost or suchlike, so you can heat just THAT part. More economical and less of a fire hazard, for a given air temperature you achieve. And the chickens can decide where to spend their time.

    You might take a look at my ventilation and 'cold coop' pages, links in .sig below, for a whole lot more on these topics (I did those pages so I don't have to keep typing it out every time [​IMG])

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    (edited out double post due to computer problems [​IMG])
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
  5. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Songster

    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
    The general rule of thumb is 4 square feet per bird for coop space and 10 sf per bird for outdoor run area. (a little less for bantams) You might want a red heat bulb rather than a 100w since it will interfere with their sleep pattern less. Be careful, some people have burned their coops down with a bulb improperly positioned. There is allot of varied opinions about heating coops so you might want to do a search for previous threads on this. Good luck.

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