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Insulating a Chicken Coop Roof-thoughts on the mechanics?

 
Destiny Hagest
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My husband and I are finally getting around to winterizing the coop over the next 2 weeks. In central Montana, this couldn't come a moment too soon. However much marital bickering has ensued over the exact way in which we will be insulating and waterproofing.

Currently the coop has a corrugated tin shed roof on it, but there are several small holes in it which allow moisture in. So our intention is of course to replace that piece of tin with one that's more intact, then I thought we should do some layering to prevent heat escape. I wanted to layer the roof as such: tin, poly, insulation, poly, plywood. My intention was to sandwich this all together, and set it on top of the walls, bolting it into place. His concern, however, is that water will run over the tin over the sides and down the layers of insulation and wood below.

Now we have an issue. The structure has no rafters, given it's proportions, so how do we go about installing this, and is he right about water leaching into the coop through the layers I have in mind?

We'll of course be ventilating to remove humidity and such, but last winter we got to -48, so an insulated roof is likely a must. Any thoughts on how we could make this design work, or any other ideas you guys have used in designing your roof?
 
Miles Flansburg
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Destiny, could you post a picture?
 
Ann Torrence
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How many chickens, how much square footage per bird?

I am a complete convert to Harvey Ussery's view that birds need wind protection and to be kept dry, but not necessarily insulation. In fact, that insulation can result in dampness that creates more problems than it solves. Birds get sick from dampness and confined quarters. We haven't had any cold related issues. I attribute this to the fact that while I can feel sorry for them in cold weather, I don't have down and don't have a clue what they are really experiencing. Observation note: in weather that would send me running for a fleece, the chooks are looking for shade. The have down; I do not. Anthropomorphizing the bird experience will not lead to chicken health.

Our birds are mostly in a 3 sided shelter pointed away from the wind. The fresh air seems to do them a lot of good. We do move them in to a hoop house in the winter, but that's for my comfort tending them, not their well-being and they get a lot of outdoor time even in the dead of winter. As soon as I open the door, out they go. Our worst nights were -10F. Back to my question, if you have a reasonable quantity of birds, they will huddle and keep warm, so long as you provide them with enough food and a place out of the wind. I want to go into winter with more than 6 birds. We do try to carb-load the chooks on the coldest nights right before it gets dark. But I don't treat them like pets. They keep warm if we help them stay dry, out of the wind, and well-fed.
 
Druce Batstone
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I suggest using structural insulated panel (SIP). My coop now under construction will have SIP walls, floor and roof from secondhand metal-clad panels used for cold rooms.
 
Jerry Ward
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I'm in S.E. MI and I've done 2 winters with metal roof and plastic wrapped around 80% of the wall distance. No insulation and they did well and we had a bad winter last year.

Reading the older literature they talk about 3 sided coops.
 
Bill Bradbury
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I would probably use XPS foam, even though it is not my favorite building material. R7.5 per inch and it does not absorb water. Don't leave it exposed where the chickens can get to it as they will peck it apart.
 
jimmy gallop
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insulation is used in closed areas to contain heated or cooled stuff including air/water/ect...
In a open area that is not heated or cooled it is useless except for retaining temperature that is there :IE .If you are in Montana and have a -10 night and a enclosure is Insulated well
It will retain that coolness that it has longer when it warms up in the day
and also will retain heat acquired during the day
but with a bunch of chickens or any thing breathing they will create moisture and carbon that can't be dissipated in a closed structure
 
Cj Sloane
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Ann Torrence wrote:I am a complete convert to Harvey Ussery's view that birds need wind protection and to be kept dry, but not necessarily insulation. In fact, that insulation can result in dampness that creates more problems than it solves. Birds get sick from dampness and confined quarters.


I agree. Half of my birds and all of my turkeys roost in trees during the winter in Vermont. The only cold related deaths are from young birds hatched late in the season. Some young ones even get frost bite inside the hoop house.
No coop></a>
 
Phillip Swartz
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Last winter I simply covered my three season movable coop with a double layer of old greenhouse film to keep out liquid water and erected a windbreak on the west and north sides. Then we start a 'composting coop' by layering a bale of grass hay in the coop each week with about 100 birds. The hay and poop start composting which releases heat. Even on the days when the high temps were below zero no chickens got frostbite and no eggs froze.
 
Cj Sloane
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Phillip, Location? (consider adding your location to your profile).
 
Bill Erickson
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When it comes to roofing material, I was taught to do a one inch setback of the material underneath. This allows water to drain off without much of it getting to the wood/insulation or whatever. Lots of other good suggestions here for warming the place without electricity, although I'm a fan of the south side of the coop being open as this keeps all the colder winds out of the coop. Out of the wind and dry have worked the best with my girls.
 
Emily Wilson
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Location: Atherley, Ontario
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I live in Ontario, and we have no insulation at all in our current winter coop, a stall in our barn. All of our birds come through the winter just fine, the exception being an unfortunate duck who stood in a puddle during a sudden temperature drop. We don't use any heat sources either, and try to have at much ventilation as possible. There's a certain amount of heat generated by the Deep Litter Method bedding, but that's it. Our former coop was insulated and not very well ventilated, and our birds had all sorts of respiratory issues when they spent a winter in there. More frostbite on their combs as well, since the increased moisture in the air settles on their combs and freezes. I would recommend no insulation or something like straw bales that will breathe somewhat.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Hi Destiny,

I understand your desire for an insulated coop. One of our friends, here in Arkansas just had her entire, 20 birds I think, flock freeze to death and the temps here only got down to 15 f. I have other friends that did not have this happen.

If you want to build an insulating roof, it would be best to remove the tin and start with a layer of sheathing (plywood) on top of this base layer you can glue in place some 1" foam insulation (blue or pink, not Styrofoam) then on top of that you could glue on a layer of roofing felt then re-attach the tin. Ames makes a wonderful roofing coating, it is rubberized and so will seal any small holes, it also reflects sun better than other coatings so you would have dual purpose coating on the exterior of the roof. This product works best when three coats are put on. You may find that you have to install a few joist to hold the new roof up, that is dependent on the dimensions of the coop. 1" blue foam insulation has a R value of 7 to 7.5 so if you wanted more R value, just add layers of the foam to achieve the R Value you desire. When re-attaching the tin roofing, be sure to use screws that are long enough to adequately penetrate the plywood bottom layer. Ours go all the way into the joists.

With the roof insulated, a thermometer will tell you if you need any wall insulation but before you do the walls, think about insulating the floor, lots of cold will come through a floor. You may find that with the roof and floor insulated, no more is really needed. It is very important to provide good ventilation, even in the winter time. Nothing is colder than a moist room in the middle of winter. You could add a regular incandescent light bulb for the really cold nights if you find it is needed.

I know a lot of folks that have good luck with out any of the above, but I also know a few that no insulation turned out to be a disaster. Luck of the draw I suppose.

 
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