Winterizing a tractor

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by naturemom, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. naturemom

    naturemom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2007
    northern IL
    My hens are living in one of thesehttp://www.motherearthnews.com/DIY/2007-04-01/Portable-Chicken-Mini-coop-Plan.aspx
    So far we've been happy with it, but now it's getting cold and I'm trying to figure out the best way to keep them warm this winter. I was thinking about putting a hoophouse over it, but it looks like that's going to be too expensive. Another possibility is to stack straw bales along the north side and cover the rest with clear plastic. Maybe put some plastic bottles, full of water and painted black, inside to absorb heat from the sun. Dh suggested a hot rock like you would use in a reptile enclosure. A light bulb is not an option because it would be a major fire hazard in such a small space. I'm just not sure if 2 bantams are going to be able to generate enough body heat to go without supplemental heat all winter. They are already spending a lot of time in the doghouse portion of the coop, so I think they're cold, and it's only early November. I could put the whole thing in the barn, but then they'd get no natural light at all.
    Any suggestions?
     
  2. suburbanhomesteader

    suburbanhomesteader Chillin' With My Peeps

    I just put Reflectix foil/bubble/foil on my tractor; it weighs next to nothing, and I think if the weather isn't below 40 for extended periods of time, they will be able to keep their tractor warm enough with their own BTUs, and perhaps a small heater bulb. If I was doing this for a coop (and I will be this weekend), I would make the smallest pop-hole possible, shield it from the prevailing wind, and insulate with this combination radiant barrier/insulation material.
     
  3. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    I wasn't able to see your coop on your link!

    bales of straw should help create heat also deep litter (I am not sure of the type of coop butting boxing it with the bales is good or at least to block the north side)

    I will try to look at site on another computer tomorrow!
     
  4. naturemom

    naturemom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2007
    northern IL
    It will be below 40 quite a lot-I'm in the Chicago area. I am trying to do deep letter, but I am limited as to how deep, since the litter is in a doghouse.
     
  5. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    You might could use the reptile heat cables they are made to use around branches and furniture. You could run in around the walls or on the ceiling of your coop.

    Versatile heating for your terrarium.

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  6. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    I was able to view the site better today!

    I think your best bet are bales of straw at $3 a bale you can surrond & cover the dog house! ((like an igloo))

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. LindaN

    LindaN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 28, 2007
    Chicago
    Hi, naturemom. I'm in Chicago, too. I keep my 3 standard hens in an Eglu , which is similar in concept to that MEN coop. The Eglu is made of twinwall plastic, though, so it does have some insulation value. I'm not sure what type of doghouse you have your chickens in; some are insulated and some are not.

    What I've done to prep for winter is this: first, I moved the Eglu to location where it is protected/shielded on the north side, and the run opening is also protected from wind. I have a raised bed that is 3 feet high by 12 feet long that is filled with soil and blueberry shrubs. The Eglu is positioned on the south side of this raised bed and parallel to it. So, the bed blocks any wind from the north, and also may provide a bit of residual solar warmth. (the black soil will absorb the heat and radiate it out a *little* bit.)

    Here's a photo:

    [​IMG]


    Next, I removed the run shade, and covered the run and Eglu coop with clear plastic. (Actually, a doubled piece of clear plastic). This allows natural light in, but blocks wind and is yet another layer to retain their body heat. The plastic over the Eglu coop itself will also protect the door opening/closing mechanism from getting iced up. (I'll have to get a photo of it next weekend. It's been pretty dark in the mornings and evenings when I get home these days.)

    I popped an old-fashioned outdoor thermometer inside their Eglu coop, and so far the temp is about 40 degrees in the early AM. The chickens seem just fine. I've also started mixing cracked corn into their crumbles based on the comments of others here. It's supposed to help them generate more body heat, but they don't seem to care that much for it.

    Finally, I have ordered a couple items to help when it gets REALLY cold: a heated dog bowl and an Igloo doghouse style heat mat from here: http://cozywinters.com/pets/

    I need to keep their drinking water from freezing, and the dog bowl just seemed a more sure thing than the immersion style birdbath heater. The heat mat should fit just right under the roosting bars in the Eglu. I had an electrician out a couple weeks ago to put an outlet on the outside of the garage with one of those clear weather-resistent covers. I'll run an outside rated extension cord from there to plug in the heated water bowl and the heat mat. Oh, I also got one of those Thermocube things that is temperature sensitive.

    For your doghouse, you may want to stuff it with lots of straw, as well as putting the straw bales on the outside. A guy about 6 blocks away from me kept chickens in children's playhouse that was stuffed to the rafters with straw. He said they just burrowed in deeper when it was really cold. He had a mixed flock of about 4 chickens that did include a little banty hen.
     
  8. naturemom

    naturemom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2007
    northern IL
    Thanks Linda! That sounds pretty similar to my plan, so now I'll go ahead and implement it this weekend. AND, I was talking to someone at the farmer's market this morning who said she can get me a couple more hens, so they will have friends to snuggle with. I'm feeling much more confident about the whole thing now.
     
  9. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    if I could make a suggestion for you both (atleast LindaN, who is definitely running electric items to the coop).... you may want to consider using a thermostatic plug. It will turn your various items (heat pad, dog dish) on when temps get to a certain point.

    We got this one at Lowes. It was in the section with pipe and roof/gutter de-icing cables. It turns on at 36 degrees or so, then off at 45. (The thing below is a timer for the light) There is also a brand called Thermocube that turns on at 34 and off at 42. It would help save electricity as well as automatically turning on so you don't have to constantly monitor it. Pretty cool.
    [​IMG]

    You can also get a cheap remote thermometer at Lowes or Home Depot that will let you monitor the temp inside the coop from in your house.

    Stacey
     
  10. LindaN

    LindaN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 28, 2007
    Chicago
    Thanks for the suggestion, SeaChick.

    Yes, I did order one of those Thermocubes, too. Sounded like a great idea for when I have to be out of town for work. My husband will take care of "the girls" by feeding them, locking them in at night, etc. but he is not as obsessive as I am about them. This will ease my mind a bit when the I have to be away during the winter.
     

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