Thoughts about this for a chicken coop?


  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Laurie, would you be willing to repost the image, please? Looks like it didn't transfer to the new forum platform.... Thanks! :)

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,374 admin
    edited April 2019

    I think that this is the one...

    This caught my eye...basically "poor man's geothermal." What I found interesting was that it would control humidity as well. I didn't realize it could do that. Humidity has been a big issue here this winter. All birds still have their feet, but combs and wattles have taken a beating.

    Has anyone considered trying this not just for a greenhouse, but for a coop?

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Oh, how interesting! Where are you located, Laurie? We're in Colorado, in the desert Southwest. But still, humidity can be an issue -- chickens respire, I keep my waterers in the coop now (long story...), there's lots of snow in the yard during the winter, etc. I do have a lot of up-high, weather-sheltered airflow in my coop, but I've still found that the best solution for us is just to keep cold-hardy breeds like Buckeyes and Wyandottes. I've never had any frostbite trouble with those small combs....

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,374 admin

    My location...Manitoba, Canada, north of North Dakota. This winter in particular was very cold. We had windchill own into the -54°C range. At -30° we had what they called freezing fog...sometimes many days on a row. Usually when it gets colder, we usually have a dry cold. Not this winter!

    I have had issues with frostbite as stated. Only small combs would get through our winters unscathed. But, I have found that once points are gone, I generally don't have any more issues. What is left always does fine after that.

    I have heard that frostbite can impact fertility, but my roosters never heard that. Haha

  • Jimerson
    Jimerson Posts: 291 admin

    That is far north! I can understand why you'd want/need a structure like that to keep those chickies happy in the winter.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,374 admin

    I am always looking for ideas that solve a problem. What I have heard is old timers using a 3 sided coop, and that being in Alaska. I am not familiar with what that was exactly though.

    What we have used other than sheds (now uninsulated due to rats...stupid rats) is 4 garage door panels for a base, and frame (which will now be reframed as a hip roof barn style for heavy snow load) and a heavy tarp. Under this is a split pen running the length. Hardware cloth is on both ends to keep out most things. That is great to keep out the bug infested, feed stealing sparrows!

    In summer, both ends are open. In winter, we boarded the north end shut with a small opening at the top. On especially blustery, snowy days, we covered the other side. These pens' open areas are on the north & south side (for sunlight).

    All this with lots of straw. Oh, the floor is just dirt.

    We put a hardware cloth skirt, 2' wide around the perimeter to keep out rats, foxes, and other digging predators. It works well. With this, there is no need to dig anything down 2'. Either way, a type of skirting and not using flimsy chicken wire is essential if you are predator proofing.

    We are thinking of somehow adding windows to help give warmth in the winter. We did this for a duck pen in the past, and it was the ducks' favorite spot. Actually, our newest pen has built ins in the south facing panel, but they are small & most likely will get snow covered in winter.

  • Wendy
    Wendy Posts: 20

    Hey neighbour (Laurie) I'm up in Argyle, north of Winnipeg. I am trying out a similar design this coming winter. I think the trick for our climate is to get heat up from below the frost line. The ground froze to almost 7 feet deep this past winter. In my greenhouse, I am digging down 8 to 10 feet and putting in an "earth battery" (tubes to distribute warm air down to ground for the summer and pump it back up in the winter. Not as expensive as geothermal. Make sure you have fresh air exchange, chickens create a lot of heat. And design it to be easy to clean out! Keep updating so we know what's happening, please!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,374 admin

    I am not making this. Haha! I don't have the equipment and there is no way I could get this done digging by hand, but it sure looks interesting.

    Yeah, that frost does go deep. This winter was certainly cold.

    Fresh air exchange would be important, not just because of heat. Poultry also creates a lot of ammonia, which certainly needs to make its way out or you'd kill them all. Cleaning it out would also be an issue unless designed correctly...just as you said.

    One other issue that I am thinking of that might arise is water draining into it. If you are doing something similar, what are you doing to eliminate this potential problem? Building it into a hill might help, but wouldn't eliminate it. Would drainage tile be your friend in that case?

    I'm sure all of that could be figured out.

    I am NW of Brandon...quite a ways from you for sure, but on here, yes, close enough to be a neighbor. :)