Winterizing Question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kamichaud11692, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. kamichaud11692

    kamichaud11692 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 1, 2014
    It's getting colder here and I am starting to think about how I am going to winterize my coop this year. I have mostly Silkies and 1 Cochin hen in there. I understand the need for ventilation, the coop is roughly 8ft x 4ft, and has 2 windows about 1ft x 1ft, 1 in the front and 1 on the back. I was thinking about putting plastic over the front facing window, because that gets the most wind, and leaving the back open.On nights or days when it is very cold maybe I could temporarily cover the back window, or partially cover it..? Or, would it work if I put some sort of breathable fabric, maybe like loose burlap over the windows? I had the burlap idea because I was thinking that if the window were left open, snow would get into the coop.

    I do not want to put a heat lamp in the coop because we are prone to loosing power in the winter and we do not have a generator. I don't want them to be accustomed to the heat and then loose it all of a sudden in a big snow storm.

    We are at the top of a big hill without many trees, so the wind chill can make things much colder up here, what are you thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Excellent point about not getting them acclimated to heat with impending danger of power outages.

    Where are you located and how many birds are in the coop?
    If they go outside, the wind will be more of a problem than in the coop. Unless the wind is swirling in the coop, the inside will be no colder than the ambient temperature, wind chill or no.

    My best advice is, if you don't want to be posting on here about respiratory problems, then don't close off the windows.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Knowing where you are located or at least the worst possible cold could help us answer this. I’m not worried about your normal cold, the extreme is where you will have problems. Since you get snow you do see cold weather.

    You don’t want to create a wind tunnel where strong winds are blasting through your coop in colder climates, but as you said they need ventilation. Chickens don’t feel cold like we do. They can handle temperatures we think are cool quite well, but when you get below freezing or even close, it becomes more of a problem. There is no magic temperature where it switches from being perfectly OK to absolute danger. Each of us are unique in many ways so what temperatures will cause problems will vary.

    I’ve never dealt with Silkies and don’t know how they handle true cold. I’d suspect they will do fine but don’t have any experience with them. Do yours roost? Some do, some don’t. If they do, how high are they compared to those windows?

    In winter I like openings over their heads. That way the wind can whistle through and give you good air exchange without creating high turbulence where the chickens are. You want some air movement where they are to get air exchange, but not much. Depending on how high they roost and how high your windows are, you may not have big problem, though closing one end off is probably a very good idea. Perhaps you could have only the tops of those windows open, especially on the downwind side only. Or perhaps you’d be better off with new openings up high, some type of gable vent, roof vent, a cupola, or just openings under any roof overhang to help keep snow out.

    Chickens are a lot tougher than many people imagine. They can sleep in trees in pretty brutal weather as long as they have the freedom to adjust where they are sleeping to weather conditions. In our coops we often take that freedom to get out of the weather away from them.
  4. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    That being said this is how I prepare for winter.


    I am subject to -40º weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn if available or cracked corn as an added supplement in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not disguard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.


    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.

  5. SpoilMyPooch

    SpoilMyPooch Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 20, 2013
    This is a difficult one. It is not cold that will kill chickens in winter but a combination of cold and damp. Overnight, a chicken coop gets very very damp because of the chickens breathing and their poo. So ventilation is incredibly important because that dampness needs to escape- even though it seems contradictory to do this in cold weather. The ventilation needs to be placed so that it is not blowing cold air directly on the chickens. Ventilation needs to be placed above or below where you hens are sleeping. I have written an article which is a collection of the best advice available on the Internet. The focus of the article is on what needs to be in a chicken coop and run in order to make it near perfect. They are 23 elements that I target and one of these is ventilation (#18.) You can use the quick navigation button to get to that section of the article quickly. You can read it here I hope that it helps.
  6. The Lazy L

    The Lazy L Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2011
    Winterizing the coop?

    I raked the leaves off the run and coop roofs.

    I put a thermostat controlled heater under their waterer.

    Winters here can get -10 F for a week or two.

    The two windows, the chicken door and the wired poop trap floor in the coop are left open 24 x 7 x 365 days.

    Unwinterizing the coop?

    Remove the waterer heater.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  7. Chicken girl 15

    Chicken girl 15 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2015
    harpursville ny
    My girls have no major work done for winter. They get a bit of extra corn and kitchen scraps to keep them busy. I get the deer corn, dried corn on the cob, and soak it for 12 hours then rinse and boil till soft. They go crazy. I don't dump the corn water either. That's used for the FF. they look more for the FF than anything though. Keep the water drinkable and not frozen.
  8. kamichaud11692

    kamichaud11692 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 1, 2014
    I am in New Hampshire, last year was especially bad for us and I lost 2 bantams to frostbite.. [​IMG]I have been told, and seriously hope, that we will have a much milder winter this year, but I don't believe anything until I see it here in New England..

    I am in New Hampshire, and it does dip below freezing often where I am. We did lose 2 bantams (not Silkies) last year to frostbite, but no, most do not roost, there are 2 hens out of 12 that do. The coop isn't very tall, so the roosts are right about at the level the windows are. I love the idea of ventilation over their heads, but short of cutting a hole in the roof, I think the best bet is leaving the top of the windows open like you said. Maybe next spring's project is some sort of cupola [​IMG]

    My girls aren't laying at all now that the days are shorter, but I have Khaki Campbells that lay all winter, they're wonderful [​IMG] I was told feeding chick starter would help, but I like the idea of corn better, maybe even scratch feed?

    Thank you that is very helpful! Next spring I will be putting in a cupola, so I don't have to stress about it again!

    Thank you guys for all the ideas! I think I am going to staple the usual plastic over both windows, leaving the top couple inches open. I will lower the boards they roost on so the air is going over them, and give lots of cracked corn or scratch. If that isn't working they will just be relocating into the horse barn, it will be cramped and a pain in the butt, but it's always warmer in there.
  9. kamichaud11692

    kamichaud11692 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 1, 2014
    I forgot to mention... a neighbor told me that piling snow around all sides of the coop will keep it warmer. Since snow is only around 32 degrees, it will always keep a coop around that temp. He said since my coop is small, to pile it all the way to the roof.

    Is this true? What do you think?
  10. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada

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