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looking for pics/video of winter chicken coops

 
paul wheaton
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I have footage from two different ways of housing chickens in the winter.  I would like to get a few more clips to put together a video.

If you shelter your chickens in a different way in the winter:  so you have warm season chicken shelter, and cold season chicken shelter, please give me some pics or, even better, video of your winter chicken shelter.

I especially like stuff that does something earth bermed, or is insulated (but well vented). 

I think some good points on a good winter shelter strategy is:

1)  if the chickens are warmer, they require less feed
2)  noticeable improvement in egg production
3)  water doesn't freeze
4)  probably lots of things I have not thought of

For more details about sending me video clips or pics, please see this thread.


thanks!



 
paul wheaton
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Two winter chicken coop designs. Both are designed to warm the chickens so that the chickens won't need as much food.

One is an earth berm design. The other is a portable design that is parked for the winter and surrounded by straw bales.




 
Erica Wisner
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Our chicken setup is fairly static, but the chickens use it differently in summer and winter.
If this would fit your idea, or if you want pictures of it for a conventional contrast, we're up for it.

It belongs to my in-laws, so I just help with barn chores occasionally.

Their main coop is insulated, they always have access to outdoors, and to the covered feed and 'play' areas. The outdoor area is something like an acre of fenced, small trees and stumps and brush. They make little trails through the trees near the house, and sometimes the far-away ones. Feed is a plain cracked grain, I believe it's corn, oyster shells, and all the bugs they can catch. We also bring them leftovers: pasta, veggies, stews, fatty scraps from meat. I have even been known to cook them some potato peelings since I learned that raw potatoes aren't good for them.

Here's how their situation changes with the seasons:

Summer: they hang out in the trees outside, and we unplug the water dish. At night, they still roost in the main coop, and they eat outside or from the undercover feeder area. I could take a picture of the trees full of chickens as the summer "coop" area. When it looks like it could plausibly be summer, which would be in a few months.

Winter: They get a warmed water dish in their indoor coop, fresh hay in their boxes (though many prefer the pole-roosts across the room), a single incandescent light bulb that stays on at night (I suppose something else would be better for their psyches, but they seem to do OK and it is a good infrared heat source), and we make a point to bring them table scraps from the same higher-energy food we eat, like bacon ends, stale biscuits, or leftover beef-barley stew. Ron says protein is key, it makes feathers as well as eggs. We feed the dinner scraps the next morning, so they don't go to sleep before eating it all and leave anything to attract nocturnal predators.
The brave ones go outside and the others follow if the snow is not too deep. They also spend a lot more time in the covered play area with fresh hay on the ground and a couple of boxes and branches for different levels.

The young ones started producing eggs this fall, and we were getting the new "baby" eggs well into November; now everybody is up to size, and we either have 15 laying hens and 10 lazy ones, or everybody is laying roughly every other day. This is not a place where non-laying hens have to worry about job security, so we don't make them punch time cards.

I suppose this isn't a super-efficient way to produce eggs, but it seems to be a reasonable way to make a bunch of chickens feel like coming back every time one jumps the fence.
The animals around here are more pets than people. We use the poopy hay in our compost mixes, it is easier to handle than the straight poop.

-Erica
 
Devon Olsen
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paul wheaton wrote:Two winter chicken coop designs. Both are designed to warm the chickens so that the chickens won't need as much food.

One is an earth berm design. The other is a portable design that is parked for the winter and surrounded by straw bales.






i like the idea of the sepp inspired one
cheap and very simple to construct and uses the earth to keep things warm
my only concern is the lack of height for them to roost and in a situation when you may not have trees that are of significant size yet it may be a great place for predators... anyone have any idea on how this could be solved

not trying to thread jack by any means i would support doing the sepp inspired ones myself, particularly if you have yourself some sort of solution to the predator issue

good luck with your chicken coop ideas OP
 
kent smith
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Location: Pennsylvania
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I just move our portable chicken house / tractor into the end of the barn for the winter and give the hens a small yard to scratch in outside.
kent
 
Jackson Barnett
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Location: Foothills of SW Maine - Zone 5a
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What great design on that built coop... Gonna steal some ideas, no doubt.
You could build some mighty fine hugelkultur beds with that bird wagon...
 
tel jetson
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insulating is well and good, but do give some thought to ventilation. without a substantial amount of air exchange, chicken shit and dander and dust will cause respiratory damage and illness, even if it isn't immediately obvious. this is true even if there's plenty of carbon and/or deep bedding in the coop. something to think about.

there are also plenty of folks who think getting cold is good for the birds. I'm not really sure what the reasoning is there. my own strategy is to keep drafts to a minimum, but not worry about insulation. doesn't get terribly cold here, though.
 
Clifford Reinke
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My coop is an open air design I modified from a 1919 book on chicken coops. This type of coop was used as far north as Alberta Canada with -20 degree weather. Chickens have nice down coats, and do not mind the cold. The large front windows are covered in 1/4 inch hardware cloth. I have a trap door that leads to the "daylight basement/dusting area". I lock them in every night because we have weasel problems. I use a four paddock system with the solar powered, 160 foot, electric poultry netting which I move once a week. There is no artificial light in the hen house (although I may add solar powered lights later). Food consumption does rise with colder weather, and if it freezes I change out the water more frequently so it does not ice over.

I replace the straw under the roost every week with the straw from the nesting boxes and the front of the coop. New straw is placed in the nesting boxes and the front of the coop. I use the pooped on straw as mulch around my fruit trees. My compost pile is on the border between two of my paddocks. So two weeks out of four, the chickens get to turn my compost pile for me eating bugs and worms. The other two weeks allow the bugs and worms to recover. The compost pile is on a slope, so we throw the new stuff on the top of the hill and shovel the good stuff from the bottom of the hill.

I have 13 Barred Rock chickens, two roosters and 11 hens. I'm averaging 9 eggs a day, even though it is winter. My chickens seem very happy and healthy, the coop does not smell bad, stays dry, takes five minutes to clean once a week. I think for me, I've finally found the right combination.

 
Raven Sutherland
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noticed: no natural light provided in the wood chicken house
a radical difference seen on the next photo showing
much incorporated glass....

even horses need some light (lightbulbs) in a barn
i would think chickens need some too.
 
wayne boardman
Posts: 13
Location: Southern Maine, nudged by climate change into zone 6a
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I built a chicken tractor/ark that I move each night across my lawn as long as the grass is green. Then for the winter, I park it on a raised bed with the same footprint on the southeast side of my house where it's protected from the prevailing west wind. This photo is from January of 2011 because this winter we've had practically no snow. The coop is designed to keep the weather off them, but has plenty of ventilation, and I use no supplemental heat in the winter (zone 6a).



I used plans from CatawbaCoops.com, and you can see some of my modifications at http://catawbacoops.com/the-catawba-converticoop-chicken-coop-image-gallery.html. With 7 hens, I decided to add a pen extension of about 4' x 6' (shown below). The coop itself has a footprint of about 4' x 8'. There is a ramp inside that I pull up every night for safety sake. I keep several bags of chopped leaves and grass that I spread on the ground under the coop and never let it get packed down. When I moved them off the raised bed last spring, I covered the bed in a couple of inches of compost and planted squash and tomatoes. It produced an abundant harvest.

Three of the hens are Red Star and four are Easter Eggers. I ran a string of LED rope lights inside the upper roosting area and have it on a timer to give 14 hours of light during the darkest months. If we're around before sunset, we sometimes let them free range for an hour or two.

The seven hens seem very happy, giving us 5-6 eggs through most of the year and probably 4-5 eggs all winter. They will be 2 years old this spring.

 
wayne boardman
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Location: Southern Maine, nudged by climate change into zone 6a
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By the way, is there some corollary to Murphy's Law that says when you let the chickens out to roam for an hour, that they immediately go scratch out the mulch around the blueberry plants and other shrubs that you really want to stay mulched? I've tried to discourage this behavior by placing branches and evergreen boughs around the plants during the winter months, but that only makes the birds more determined to dig it all out. Oh well...
 
paul sanass
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some of these designs look great
 
Jay Green
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Here's a summer/winter coop design that I am currently using that is incorporating passive solar heat in the winter months. Cheap to build and one person can construct it...even a woman, who did construct it. It's portable. I use deep litter throughout the year and this adds to winter warmth and health as well. Very snug in the winter and very cool and airy in the summer:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/cattle-panel-hoop-coop




 
Willy Walker
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I was reading post on winter chicken care from a people that claimed to be from Alaska. They all said the same thing, Don't heat your chicken coop with electric means. Passive heat designs are good. The reasoning is that if you keep your chicken's home at 40 degrees all winter they will only develop a coat that keeps them warm in 40 degree temps. Then the power goes out and the birds are sitting around in 15 degrees. Very bad, they are dressed for 40 and it's 15. They all claimed that a dry area is the best and that they normally experienced temps in the negatives. My area will reach possible -5 for like 2 nights and thats way cold but possible. I have good ventilation but for the most part my chickens are blocked from the wind. I have been on the fence regarding this issue for soo long, after reading that thread. I am extremely confident about not heating the house.
 
Clifford Gallington
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Here is our chicken house before we moved to town, it was in bad need of repair, so we repaired it using salvaged material and shingles that were left over from someone'e roor and given to me.
In the winter we just put a heat lamp with a red heat bulb in it over the waterer and they were just fine.
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we did put up a chicken wire fence shortly after these pictures
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Clifford Gallington
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Like I said it was in poor condition but the solid walls and floor were a great starting place.

If I remember the total out of pocket was someplace around 60 bucks and that was to get electricity for the heat light.
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Josef Theisen
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Ok so it's not the most elegant solution, but for about $100 worth of straw and tarps we were able to "Winterize" our hoop coop. Next year I hope to have better winter accomodations inside a seasonal greenhouse, but for now I am confident our chickens will thrive in this simple setup.

 
Jay Green
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Hay bales rock! I use them too but I encased mine in black plastic so that I could reuse them time and again for the same purpose and also for the solar absorption.





 
Phillip Swartz
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Three season portable coop. Used greenhouse plastic placed over the top. Grass bales stacked on W and N sides. Each week I layered at least one bale of grass in the coop which soaked up excrement and began to compost. Two heat lamps next to nest boxes. ~90 hens.
 
Robert Overturf
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In thinking about how a chicken chooses to go sleep at night out there in nature I wanted to kind of re-think the idea of the chicken coop. What I wanted was something that they would hop up into, the way they would into a tree in the woods when they go to roost at night. I think that out there in nature, cold isn't as much of an issue for them because they originate from a jungle fowl so out there in nature there wouldn't be as much of a concern for cold. That's where I have to admit that I can't absolutely 100% conform to nature's standards because I do have to compensate for cold in my climate if I want to eat eggs and chicken.

What I ended up coming up with was a completely open-air coop, with the exception of the West wall which is solid, and surrounded with wire mesh. The wall is just to block the prevailing wind which comes from that direction. Just on the inside of that wall is, hanging from the ceiling is what I am calling a roost box. It has roughly solid walls on it's four sides, with cracks between boards intentionally not well sealed for air quality purposes. At the top there is a vent, but it remains closed for the winter. There is not a lot of room in there and the idea is that they will go up in there in the winter and huddle together. Their body heat will warm the small space and be trapped within the roost box. In the summer open up the vent and get a thermosyphon effect that draws cool air up and through to keep them cold.

I have not done a good job at documenting with pictures but the few that I do have shows the framework before the walls go on the roost box and gives a decent concept model I think. I am in Des Moines, Iowa which is about Zone 5B. I have barred rock laying hens. A couple of weeks ago when it was quite cold out, I went out to the coop and one of the hens was inside the roost box I assumed to try and stay warm, so I opened up the vent door to peak inside and check on her. My face was met with a plume of warm air confirming for me a successful system.

My Coop Rebuild

Here is one of the pics. I was difficult to get it in a picture since there's not a lot of room inside the coop.


The lower exterior walls in the picture are also no longer there, replaced with just wire mesh. (hardware cloth)
 
elle sagenev
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This was not my original plan for my auto waterer but it is what I ended up with. I have ducks, chickens and peacocks all in together. Watering the poultry is my biggest issue. So I bought this galvanized auto dog waterer and a 3 foot hose. I then heat taped it and my spigot and then wrapped insulation around it. I also filled the bottom of 1/2 a large dog kennel with sand. This helps with the duck mess. So far so good. I just go out and dump the duck goop out once a day. Easy peasy.
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Trouble brigade
 
elle sagenev
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I feel a bit like a cheater but my poultry are in my barn. The tack storage part of the barn has the roosts and the run in side of the barn is where I feed them and they hang out. I find it to be the best thing I could have done. Our winds here are so bad that the poultry rarely leave the barn at all in the winter. With the size of it they are perfectly content in the shelter.

This barn has had many lives. We used it as the dog shelter first. Then i got horses. Then chickens. When I get cows and goats they'll share the barn with the birds. Free love.
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The barn with pallet hiding places in run.
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tack shed roost area
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Rafters are ideal for peafowl
 
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