Winterizing My Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Steve777, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Steve777

    Steve777 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2013
    So I have my roughly 6'x4'x4' hi coop together and the flock of 5 hens has been using it for the last month or two. All seems well, except that in the rush to get it done in time for the arrival of the flock, I did not get to putting all the finishing touches on that I wanted. Mostly I skipped things that wouldn't be needed until winter. So it's getting close to time to take care of these things, and I am looking for some advise.

    The construction is 2x4 (walls) and 2x6(floor) lumber and plywood, with no insulation or inside walls. It gets fairly cold here in the winter (below 0F happens maybe 5-10 times), and we get strong winds from the W quite often. The coop itself should be fairly airtight with the door and window shut, maybe too tight. My question is what would be the proper amount of winterizing to do on this coop?

    Neighbors with chickens here don't insulate their coops, but they do run a heat lamp in the cold spells. I was thinking I could insulate the floor (it is up off the ground ~3') but not sure that's necessary with the litter on the floor. Anything else I should do insulation or winterizing-wise?

    I was planning on adding an electrical run to power a light and a heat lamps. My question on these are, can I leave romex-type wire exposed inside the coop, or will the hens peck at it and expose the wires? Do I need conduit or metal sheathed wiring? Any suggestions on the size heat lamp and regular light bulb I would need for this sized coop in this climate?

    One last area is the feed and water. Right now I have a feeder and waterer that hang under the coop. This is fine while it is above freezing and there is no snow, but I expect I will need to make some arrangements for food and water inside the coop in the winter. It's not that large a coop (in hindsight wish I had made it bigger), so there isn't that much room. I was thinking that perhaps some small wall mounted units might work OK. Thought is these would keep the birds happy those days that I can't get out there for a while due to weather. Any thoughts/suggestions here?

  2. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2013
    I insulated mine just for drafts from the wind you will want to leave a window open for ventilation sounds dumb in the winter but leave it open if the draft isn't blowing on them.I don't heat but what I have is a cookie tin heater for the water it actually gives enough heat to keep the water from freezing and gives a little heat to warm the coop a little. I would not use a heat lamp if they get use to the heat it will make it harder for them if the power goes out.if you do insulate it make sure it is covered with plywood or something they will pick at it trust me learned the hard way. I made a plywood feeder inside for the winter a gravity feeder.Hope this helps.
  3. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2013
    I also put an l.e.d light in, I don't think they will peck through romex it's pretty tough stuff I would nail it tight with the electrical staples. Maybe run the wire high so they can't get at it.
  4. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    You do not want your coop to be airtight in the winter. Chickens put out a lot of CO2 through breathing, and ammonia from their waste. Both, if your coop is not properly ventilated will lead to sickness, and even death to your birds. Another thing you will see in a poorly ventilated coop on cold days, is frost in the coop and frostbite on the birds. Chickens generate, along with the gases mentioned a lot of moisture, again just from breathing. The coop HAS to have adequate ventilation/fresh air to get rid of it.
    Forget about added insulation and especially adding a heatlamp. Chickens already come with perfect insulation of their own, and all you are doing with a heatlamp is running up your electric bill, and possibly taking a big chance on burning your coop down. I use a cookie tin water fount warmer like the other poster mentioned. They are cheap to build and work great. If you are running electric out to the coop, I would advise putting your wires in conduit. Not so much because of the chickens, but in case you happen to get any rodents in there. They really like to chew on wire insulation. Check out the link below. Good book on coop ventilation.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. bluebirdnanny

    bluebirdnanny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2013
    I am in upper lower Michigan. I am working on a 10 x16 Woods fresh Air coop. I do not plan on adding electric or these other things that may cause my flock to be "pansies". I want good hardy stock.

    They did not have heat or electric last year (three in a open front caged style- enclosed back). They did fine. Except for quarters being too small for optimum long term health.

    Because of finances I am having to slightly modify (recycling windows and door from house) but holding to the pattern diagram in the book: Fresh-Air Poultry Houses by Prince T. Woods ,, Published by Norton Creek Press. There is a site where you CAN read on line but I find the book better.

    The diagram I am following is on page 90. I will though keep the "mini" coop as a brooder/chick pen.

    Jack is a good one to advise. Too many chicken owners have losses from illness they don't realize their living conditions created. #1 is crowding and lack of fresh air.

    Imagine putting a human in a dark musty 3' square black cement box with no windows. Imagine the smell of rotten foods and defecated material. How long do you think you would stay healthy?
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2008
    This is really great advice. The more windows, the better in a coop--even in winter. And birds don't need any supplementary heat unless it's going to get below -20F. (Yes, 20 below zero). If you heat your coop, your birds will be going in and out of a heated building but can't take off their feathers in the heat or put on a coat when they go out the way humans do. Imagine if you had to do that--wouldn't you be better off building up a natural tolerance to the cold, and just having a way to get out of the wind? The birds' bodies will naturally adapt the the seasons if you let them.

    We do have an insulated coop, but there are six house-sized windows that span three sides of the building and a 14' ceiling with peak vents and soffit vents, so we get plenty of air movement. We really insulated it for the summer not the winter--the insulation keeps everything cooler in the summer.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by