Winterizing Coop: lots of questions!!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hensandchickscolorado, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. hensandchickscolorado

    hensandchickscolorado Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2011
    Englewood Colorado
    I'm ready to winterize my coop! We get freak snowstorms in October here, so I want to be ready. Here's my list--what am I missing?

    1. Heat lamp to extend daylight (do I simply set timer to shut off at say, 8PM each night??). What happens if it gets really cold--do I just leave it on each night? Will they sleep?

    2. Heated waterer--should I keep this inside coop or leave it outside? They spend all day outside--will they continue that when it gets cold?? Now I have one waterer in and one in the run; but they only use the outside one.

    3. I'm thinking about dog-door style flaps over my pop door (which is always open--run is secure). Will these work to keep out drafts yet let them go in & out? Is there a preferred material to use?

    4. Ventilation: I have two large windows which I will close on really cold days. I have two vents up high; one 6" x 24" a smaller 2" x 24". I plan on always keeping these open. Enough if I open the windows on warmer days? (Coop is 4' x 6' and I have 3 birds).

    Anything else I'm missing before I head out there to remove my first batch of DL pine shavings to start again?!!! I'm not planning on physically going inside that (raised) coop again 'til spring if I can help it!

    Thanks for any and all help!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  2. ChickyChickyBaby

    ChickyChickyBaby Barefoot Bantams

    I am not much help here. Seems everyone does things differently. Do you know anyone else in your area or state that you could ask? Maybe the state thread here on BYC?
     
  3. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    1. Heat lamp to extend daylight (do I simply set timer to shut off at say, 8PM each night??). What happens if it gets really cold--do I just leave it on each night? Will they sleep?

    Heat lamps are not needed. A light is nice to have though. I use a timer with some led x-mas lights. When it gets really cold they fluff up their down coats and huddle with each other. Just make sure they have no drafts blowing on them. They need dark to sleep properly.

    2. Heated waterer--should I keep this inside coop or leave it outside? They spend all day outside--will they continue that when it gets cold?? Now I have one waterer in and one in the run; but they only use the outside one.

    It is easier to keep water warm inside out of the wind. They will go inside to drink when thirsty. They will continue to stay outside unless there is snow in their run.

    3. I'm thinking about dog-door style flaps over my pop door (which is always open--run is secure). Will these work to keep out drafts yet let them go in & out? Is there a preferred material to use?

    It helps to keep out drafts. Use strips of thick plastic that overlap. You will have to train them to use it.

    4. Ventilation: I have two large windows which I will close on really cold days. I have two vents up high; one 6" x 24" a smaller 2" x 24". I plan on always keeping these open. Enough if I open the windows on warmer days? (Coop is 4' x 6' and I have 3 birds).

    You should be fine but use your eyes and nose. If you see condensation or the smell gets strong you know you need more air exchange.​
     
  4. zoelovesmom

    zoelovesmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2011
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    I am in CO (Highlands Ranch!), first year with chickens, and curious about this too. Subscribing to this thread. It seems like people's responses to dealing with cold really run the gamut here, from "do nothing" to putting heaters in the coops. I worry about fires with lamps. I'm thinking they'll be OK most of the time, but I worry about those below zero days like we had about a week of last winter; I figure I'll keep them in the garage for a few days if I have to.

    One thing I've heard is that the wet is what really bothers and hurts them, so shovel off a patch of grass right after it snows, so that they'll have one area to scratch around in without their feet getting wet.
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I don't use heat for the coop, but we do use supplemental lighting. The chickens do fine. I agree that it's important for their health to have a period of dark every night. Any type of bulb that gives off light works. The old saying is, enough light to be able to read a newspaper. Maybe that should be, enough light for a 20 year old to be able to read a newspaper. [​IMG]

    Some people have their water inside and some have it outside. There are pros and cons either way. I have mine inside. I like it on something inflammable, like bricks, concrete block or a concrete patio tile, rather than directly on the litter. I've never had a problem, but it's always good to be safer.

    I used to have a soft flap over the pop hole door, but we took it out when we installed the automatic door. The pop hole door is closed at night and also when the day's high is below zero. At that point, our chickens don't want to go outside, anyway. Other people's chickens might. Chickens aren't usually too keen on pushing through flaps that are tight enough to keep out any draft. With a looser fit they can learn to push through, but then it can still be drafty, if you don't have the ventilation set up correctly.

    I have a huge amount of ventilation here in the summer, since it gets in the upper 90s, both temps and humidity. In the winter, I have very little open when it's the worst part of winter. At that point we have the extremely dry arctic air that pushes down here. For only 3 chickens in a 4x6 coop, they won't be giving off that much moisture, compared to a more crowded coop. If your winter air is dry, that may be plenty of ventilation. I know when I was visiting my friend in Denver one summer, it was much drier there than it was here. I see people in warmer, moister areas having more trouble with frost bite, when I'm not having any trouble. I never go tighter than 5 sq. ft. per chicken in my coop. The more crowded a coop is, the more ventilation it needs.

    I think it's great advice to use your eyes and nose. It shouldn't feel like you walked into a green house when you walk in there.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011
  6. kurt s

    kurt s Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Southern Maine
    I was speaking to a farmer in central NH today about this topic. He has had chickens for decades and uses no lights or water heaters. He says the first year pullets will lay eggs consistently through the winter irregardless of light and will slow down in the second winter. He uses a Fortex rubber water bowl and changes twice a day with no problems. Also no insulation or heat needed. Just draft free and well ventilated up high.
     
  7. citychickx6

    citychickx6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2011
    Loveland
    Colorado here too.

    I for one am going to have the option of a heat lamp. Yes they will sleep with a red one not so much with a white. Remember last winter when we went 20 BELOW for the high for almost a week. I need the security of that heat lamp available.

    I do not do the DLM as I cannot bring myself to leave the poo in the coop.
    I have south facing windows on both of my coops and that means the pop door faces north. Not so sure I like the direction of mine. I do like the windows letting in sun and light.

    I agree that no extra light is needed but I will have a rope light in my coops for added brightness during the day and may leave it on until after I come home and have a chance to tend them. (Timers are wonderful)

    I am getting heated waterers since I know water will freeze during the day and I don't want to have to replace waterers every other day from bursting.

    Just my $2 worth.
     
  8. Here is my 2 cents.

    Re-made roosts to be 2x4 with 4 inch side "up" to force them to sit on their feet at night when it is coldest. We have removable sticks above the 2x4's that we take down in winter so they are forced to use 2x4 only

    Vents down low are temp activated foundation vents that close automatically when it gets cold. (we have up high vents that are open year around)

    pop door is closed at 6pm in winter and not opened till at least 9am...and is kept closed all day if temp does not hit 38

    outside water is removed completely and the big 5 gallon goes inside

    we currently use 4 bags of pine flake (tractor supply size and type) most of year...but increase that by 25-50% in winter (we change first week of december and that will last all winter)

    One side of coop has very large window modified from old sliding door glass that acts to trap some heat from 2-5pm and our water is in front of that.

    Have "thermocube" plug in for emergencies only. will use small elect heater plugged into that if it stays under 30 for more than a couple days straight.
     
  9. rjlanger2

    rjlanger2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 22, 2011
    Central Texas
    Under the premise that a happy chicken lays more eggs.......

    If the temp is going below 45, I close the windows in the coop. There is a sliding door they use to get to the run that is usually left open. If the temp is going below 35, the sliding door gets closed and I'll turn a heat lamp on. I try to keep the temp inside the coop around 40 (prob more for my comfort than theirs!) but please keep in mind, temps here don't go to zero (0) and if it does get cold, it's only a few nights of 20s with 40 - 50 during the day. Although not a major expense, heatlamp(s) can add $10 to $20 to an electric bill depending on the wattage and number in use!

    Ventilation usually isn't an issue - the coop is not airtight but isn't drafty. I keep their water and feed in the coop. I add extra pine shavings to insulate the floor and absorb more if they are locked inside the coop.

    The heat and sun are usually a bigger issue than the cold.


    Bob
     

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