Winterizing Coop/Light and Plastic Sheeting

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ilooni, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. ilooni

    ilooni New Egg

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    I have a 4 x 4 x6 coop attached to a completely chicken wired 10 x 12 run. The coop is not insulated and I don't know whether there is enough space to run a light to the coop to get my 6 month old Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and 2 ameraucanas to begin to lay. I live in western Maine and we are not getting the daylight needed. I have roosts in both the coop and run and the coop is currently always open for them to go into. I was going to use 3 mil Plastic sheeting to keep snow/wind out this winter. Can I use a light in the Run and not the coop as "daylight"? Also is 3 mil thick enough to keep some elements out or do I need to use a thicker gauge, i.e. 5 mil or 6 mil? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    When I was a kid we had a huge coop with a large open screened window on the south.

    Every winter we would put up clear plastic sheeting to keep out the cold and let in the light... and we kept a light on from 6AM to 8PM on a timer.
     
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Yes you can! This year, my hubby has built a roof over our chicken run, and we will put tarps around the sides and front to block off the wind, and we will have a heat light lamp out in the chicken run, which does provide enough lighting for your chicken to lay if you leave it on from around 6:00 am until around 8:00pm. My chickens are laying better than ever right now! Hubby has the lights anchored really well, and we put the water out there just underneath where the heat lamp is so that it doesn't freeze. Makes life so much easier.

    As long as your light is in a place where the rain or snow won't touch it, and it's anchored very well, you're good to go.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    That's an interesting question. Since all that matters is the light that the chicken's body (probably its eyes or head, but I am not sure) is exposed to, then as long as they would USE the run whilst it is artificially lit, then I can see no reason why that wouldn't "count".

    However, since in a small coop like that you can use a really small bulb (possibly even a nightlight; or a short LED xmas-lights string) that can tuck neatly out of the way in a corner or such, it seems very very unlikely to me you couldn't fit it into the COOP if you prefered.

    Note that it is likely getting a bit too late in the year for adding light to have much effect. I'm not saying don't try it, I'm saying don't hold your breath [​IMG] -- we're only, what, six-ish weeks now from the shortest day of the year, and days are really pretty short up here. For best results you really ought to add light as soon as natural day length (as experienced by chickens, which can be shorter than dawn-to-dusk if your coop is in a dim location) drops below 14 hours a day, which in Maine may be as early as late August or certainly sometime in September.

    As far as plastic-covering the run, I do that too, and have had better luck with 6 mil (the stuff sold as vapor barrier for houses) because it holds up better to rustling in the wind; but certainly you can TRY the 3mil if you've already got it on, just you may need to replace it before winter is over. I find that it holds best in cold windy weather if you tack it on in just a few places with a staplegun, then tape duct tape along where all yer staples are going to be, then staple it on thoroughly THROUGH the duct tape. Make sure to leave a generous sized area -- I would suggest at least 1/2 of one side -- open to prevent humidity buildup.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. ilooni

    ilooni New Egg

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    Jun 29, 2010
    Thanks everyone for your responses. To Pat, when you say a 1/2 inch open, do you think I could do that towards the top of the run to help with humidity/ventilation? I am obviously a complete newby to this and would hate to see my lack of knowledge led to my girls demise. I will go with the 6 mil too. If some of my girls haven't started to lay, do you think even with the artificial light they won't lay until late spring? Right now my reliable Ms. Piggy the RIR has even cut back on laying.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Not half inch -- half OF THE SIDE totally open. Really really.

    Pat
     
  7. Baymule

    Baymule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the top of your run is flat and you put plastic over it, would it not cave in under the weight of the snow? Just asking, we don't get much snow here, so not a lot of experience.
     
  8. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not sure where you are, but we use some vinyl sheeting, it's lasted 2 years on a windward side of the run.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  9. ilooni

    ilooni New Egg

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    I wasn't going to put the plastic on the top of the run, as we are going to be putting plastic corrugated roofing up, just around it for wind/snow protection. It has been reinforced and I hope doesn't cave in. Maine is extremely unpredictable in winters. Sometimes 5 + feet snow for winter sometimes just cold cold cold with storms here and there. I have asked around up here, but everyone seems to have a different view of what is actually required to keep chickens not from being miserable and risk their health.
     
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We used a vinyl roof on the run and had some brutal snow storms- it was *great*. You can see how we constructed it on my page. We used 1 foot centers to ensure strength. Maine and here very similar of course! It's wonderful to be able to keep the birds dry and there is little odor. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010

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