Winterizing Question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by pipthepeep, Dec 4, 2010.

  1. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2010
    I am new to the forum (although I have been browsing--read: stalking knowledgeable chicken owners-- for months now) and have never posted before, but I am definitely in need of a bit of guidance here as the weather gets colder.

    I live in Northern NJ where the weather in winter frequently gets into the teens and sometimes single digits at night (20s is probably the average night temp in winter). I only have two birds, and the set-up I have for them is somewhat unusual. They live most of the time in a large chain-link dog kennel/run, inside of which is a rabbit hutch converted into a coop. The part that they roost in is basically a 2.5 foot by 3 foot box made of hardware cloth that attaches to the solid part of the rabbit hutch (the hutch is sort of like a room they go through before they enter the area they roost in at night and has deep shavings on the floor). They can come and go from the hutch/coop into the kennel as they wish, since the kennel is predator proof.

    For the winter, I have covered most of the sides of the kennel with 6 mil plastic-- I covered both long sides (leaving a slight gap at the top for ventilation) and half of one of the short sides, and left one entire short side open for ventilation. For the small roosting "box," I have used thick styrofoam insulation about half way up three sides (making sure they can't eat the styrofoam!), with the rest of these three sides covered in plexiglass. The side where the box attaches to the hutch remains just hardware cloth. I have a tarp over the whole thing for a little extra draft control. The top of the box is covered loosely in shingles and the bottom has deep hay.

    My question is primarily about ventilation: The box is pretty small, and I have only two birds. I did leave the one side open hardware cloth, but it is covered with a regular plastic tarp...Will the tarp allow adequate ventilation? I did cut a hole in the tarp right about at roof level (hole is probably about 3 inches by 3 inches), slightly above where the roost is. This ventilation stuff combined with the cold has me worried!!

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    Ct.
    hello. welcome from connecticut!! you the search button, there are alot of threads on winterizing etc.
    are you using a heat source?
     
  3. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2010
    Thanks:) I'm not using a heat source as I have no electricity out there. I have been doing lots of research on here about winterizing...but my situation seems a little different since it not a plywood coop and its so small with just two birds...they literally just use it for roosting and nothing else. Just want to make sure it is well enough ventilated for them...seems to be a thin line between minimizing drafts and maximizing winter ventilation. I've definitely learned that from reading all the winterizing threads on here!
     
  4. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
    How much time do they spend in the roosting area?

    I'd bet with their down coats they will be fine and you'll not here them complain. I have some girls that I have to take inside most nights because they prefer to roost on the rain gutter vs. inside the palace. Keep an eye, or more accurately a nose on the coop and if you notice moisture or an ammonia odor, you need more ventilation. If the girls complain to the coop owners association, you need more insulation.

    How wide are the roosts. For example my roosts are made of 2 x 4 lumber with the wide side facing up. This gives the girls more stability and allows them to cover their feet while roosting. Also are they a cold hardy breed and how big are their combs. Is one a Rooster? Hens will sleep with their head under their wing. Roos normally will not.
     
  5. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think I agree that just keeping an eye on their behavior is probably going to be the way to go with this. The whole "coop" setup was only supposed to be temporary anyway...wasn't really planning on having to winterize this patchwork configuration, but they seem to love their little roosting box the way it is so I never bothered to find something more "chicken coop" [​IMG] Funny you should ask if one is a rooster...they actually are BOTH roosters (lol its a looong story! and i probably could write a novel on weird rooster behavior...)I
     
  6. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    Ct.
    Quote:soooo you have just roosters!! wow!!!!!!!!!!! [​IMG]
    you need to share your story with us! [​IMG]
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Since it's two birds I bet you will be fine- your climate is similat to ours in winter. If you notice any condensation you can loosen things up, but I bet you won't have to...big thing is keeping water from freezing [​IMG]
     
  8. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2010
    Haha yes...obviously my boys are just pets, as I clearly am not getting any eggs out of the deal:) basic story is that I work at a horse barn...hen was nesting in horse stall...horse stepped on mom right as eggs were almost ready to hatch...I happened to be moving an egg out of the stall to put it in a box to try to finish incubating , and the darn thing started peeping and pipped a little hole right while the egg was in my hand!!! obviously, I had to take it home, the egg hatched in my bathroom, and I have a baby rooster that thinks im his mama:) Seriously, I don't think he even knows he is a chicken....His friend came from TSC and just happened to turn into a roo too...albeit a little more "normal"!
    Maybe some day I will get some chickens too, but, since that would introduce a whole new dimension, I am going to hold off on that for now. They are about 9 months old, so I am going to give it some more time and see what happens.

    As far as their coop, I clean all the manure out of their coop every few days, so hopefully that will keep the moisture down. And I'm planning on just changing their water out once or twice a day as needed (rotating the waterers whenever they get frozen). I imagine they will let me know if something is wrong in terms of temp or ventilation so I will keep a close eye out for any beginnings of frostbite, etc. So far, they seem pretty comfy and it has been in the 20s a few nights.

    Thanks!
     
  9. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oxford NY
    From your description I'd say your birds will do just fine.
     

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