Wintering the coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by racefanz, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. racefanz

    racefanz Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 30, 2009
    I live in Maine and have been starting to think about how I will winterize my coop to keep my girls warm and healthy throughout the winter. Does anyone have any suggestions? The other night I got to wondering how to keep their water from freezing and if they will go walk around in the snow. This will be the 1st winter I have had chickens so I am somewhat confused on what to do. Please help if you can!
  2. woody49705

    woody49705 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2008
    Shelton, Ct.
    Living in New England as well I would highly suggest a heated waterer. I bought a plastic heated waterer last winter and can't even express how good of an investment it was. A 3 gallon one cost me approx. $40. As far as the snow goes, They don't want to walk in the snow too much, but if I give the run a very quick shoveling, they don't seem to mind coming out into the cold for the most of the day. I personally do not heat my coop or put a light in it, although it does get a lot of natural light from the windows. Other than a little frostbite on the roo's comb everybody does fine. I think it's more imperative to keep them from the wind chill factor and as long as they have protection from the element's they'll be just fine.
  3. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2008
    I made my own chicken water heater.I took a 2x8 and made a 1 foot x 1 foot box.Covered the top with aluminum flashing bent over the sides and nailed down.Drilled a hole thru the 2x8 box and mounted a light fixture inside.Cut off the end of an orange extension cord and wired into the light fixture.I covered the bottom of the box with 2 old license plates screwed to the bottom.I have to remove the plate to change bulb.40 watts kept the water from freezing.
    Then I found an old cookie tin. The large one about 12 inch across at second hand store gonna make another and see how it works with the tin mount the light inside and put lid back on.
  4. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    I think the best thing you can do is have a well insulated and draft free coop. I built mine with winter in mind since we live at a high elevation and strong winds.

    Definetely get a heated waterer - it will save you alot of time and trouble. I have a wireless thermometer out in the coop. You can buy them on line for about $20. That way you can see the coop temp from your house and determine if you want to turn on a heat lamp or not in extreme cold. I find it's very useful at night when I don't want to go out and check anymore.

    After all the rain this summer we did put a roof over the run so I suspect my girls will come out of the coop since they shouldn't be getting any snow there.

    I will also be closing up 2 sides of the run with plywood to protect them from blowing snow and the north wind.

    Good luck to your girls through what I think is going to be a long and miserable winter! [​IMG]
  5. ksct

    ksct Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2009
    upstate, NY
    i will be following the direction of most of these posts as well. DH was thinking of that yesterday when he brought home huge pieces of steel for both sides of the run. Doesn't cover it completly but will stop wind and snow drifts and that's what we want. plus they like to watch us while we're outside so keeping part of it open will be nice.

    investing in a heated waterer.... CHECK!
  6. Whirlwind

    Whirlwind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    Tuttle, Oklahoma
    I put plastic sheeting on the sides of my coop to block the wind. It needs to be open here in the summer. It gets hot.

    DH made me a heated waterer by wrapping a heat tape like for your plumbing on my metal waterer. It works good unless

    it stays below freezing for days. Don't know if this will work for a plastic waterer or not.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Yup, something electric to keep yer waterer from freezing up is very nice to have. Not *essential* (unless you are away from home for a lot longer than it takes water to freeze up), but really really nice to have.

    A strongly-engineered roof on your run is also really really nice; instead or in addition, it is also nice to be able to put plywood or tarps or clear plastic or etc on at least the 2 upwind sides of the run. You have to do it in a way that won't cause the run fences to blow over or blow away, though.

    As far as avoiding frostbite, the biggest thing is not so much temperature, it's ensuring DRY (and draft-free) air in the coop. In humid air you can get frostbite right around 30 F; in dry air most chickens are good down to 0 F and quite often considerably below. So, fix any wall/roof/window leaks, rig the waterer so that it will not spill, and consider a droppings board that you clean every morning (which removes a whole lot of moisture from the coop right then and there).

    And, again towards the goal of dry air, make sure your coop has sufficient (i.e. plenty) ventilation openings built into it that are appropriate for winter use. You want openings high atop several or all walls (ideally protected by the roof overhang), good sized, partly-to-fully closeable with adjustable flaps or sliders or whatever.

    A max-min thermometer inside the coop (preferably the old style mechanical kind, as AA batteries do not always survive the minus temperatures real friskily) will be a great help when you are trying to decide how to adjust the ventilation and so forth. The coop will usually be somewhat warmer than outside, especially on the coldest nights, and it is really helpful to know the chickens' actual temperature.

    It is also good to think in advance about where you will dump coop cleanings so that they will not wash away or do something very nasty near your house come the spring thaw [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    1 person likes this.
  8. sashurlow

    sashurlow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2009
    West Rutland, VT
    Would lowering the coop ceiling with blue foam (or felt blankets which would breath) help anything?
    And what about a water heater when there is no electricity nearby?
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:If you have no electricity, then you pretty much are not going to be heating your waterer [​IMG] -- you will just have to bring them fresh water as many times a day as it takes to keep thawed water in front of them most of the time. This could mean once a day, or five times a day, it totally depends on temperature and what size container and how insulated it is.

    In general, the less unused 'cathedral ceiling' space you have, the better (slightly better, anyhow)... but you have to be very careful not to block off any of your ventilation when you do that, and just blocking off the rafter/truss area will not make a huge difference anyhow. More useful IMO, if you want to do something of that sort, is to knock together some sort of temporary drop ceiling or 'hover' or roost box or partitioned-off area that surrounds the roost, so they have something to hold their body warmth nearer to them at night, but can still use the rest of the coop normally and have normal ventilation. This is only something you'd be likely to need to do in pretty cold conditions, though, and IMO would be on a sort of 'wait and see' basis.

    Good luck, have fun,

  10. racefanz

    racefanz Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 30, 2009
    My goodness! Thanks for all the info everyone! I will certainly take all of these into consideration when it comes time to winterize!

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