* UPDATE: For more tips, also see our four-part series on preparing your chickens and chicken coop for the winter.
For the past few winters, I’ve wrapped our Garden Coop in plastic sheeting to keep driving rain and snow (mostly rain here in the Pacific Northwest) out of the run area.
I’d love to say I do this for artistic reasons, à la Christo, but it’s really all about practicality. Plastic film is inexpensive, easy to put up, and keeps your hens dry and happy. And in the spring, you can just take it down, roll it up, and store it out of the way.
There are other solutions, of course — sheet siding, acrylic panels, canvas, landscape fabric. Let me know in the comments what has worked for you.
Tips on wrapping your chicken coop and run with plastic sheeting
- Use plastic sheeting that’s durable enough to hold up in the wind. Thickness is measured in mils. I used a roll of 4-mil polyethylene film, which you should be able to get at any hardware store. For comparison, a heavy-duty garbage bag is around 2-mil thick.
- Roll out your plastic sheet to the length you need and cut it to size. You decide how much your chicken coop or run that you want to enclose based on your local weather, angle of the sun, etc. I’ve found that on our Garden Coop, covering the back, right, and at least part of the front side works well to keep out driving rain and up-splash from the drip line in the back. I bring the plastic up about 2/3 of the way, since the roof overhang does a good job of shielding the top third or so. I might cover more, including the area under the henhouse, if conditions become particularly harsh.
- Cut a couple of one-by-twos to the width of each section of the chicken coop that you want to cover, one to attach the film at the top and one at the bottom. If you want to secure any side edges, cut one-by-twos for those too.
- Roll the edge of your plastic sheet around the upper one-by-two a couple times, then attach with a screw on either end (1 1/4″ should do), driving through the plastic and the one-by-two into the studs on the coop. At the bottom, you can do the same thing, or just sandwich the plastic sheet between the one-by-two and the sole plate.
- You’ll see in the pictures below that my plastic sheet was wide enough to simply fold in half and still cover the height I needed, so instead of rolling at the edge, I just tucked the one-by-two into the fold to mount it at the upper end.
That’s it! Feel free to add any tips or questions in the comments below.
5 thoughts on “How to wrap your chicken coop for the winter”
This is my dad’s first time owning chickens. A huge cold front should be coming in this weekend over where he lives. He is panicking about how to keep them warm so I will let him know that he needs durable plastic sheets.
I really like your post on how to wrap your coop for the winter. What I have done in the past with mine is… since my coops are built where it’s four runs together, and they are all open, and rain can get into the two ends ones mostly, I used a tarp like you would find at the car lots that give you shade while you walk around. We call them “car lot colors.” I take this shade tarp and fold it in half and use the grommet holes as to where I place my nails. When it’s folded in half, it’s just long enough to keep most of the rain out and still allow air and sun to get in. When I do not need it to cover up the sides then I just take some string from our bales of hay and roll up the tarp and tie it off. I just need to cover up the two ends the most since that is where most of the rain comes from, so that leaves all of the front of the coops open so they can still see outside and get fresh air and sunshine. I do have shade cloth on standby for the fronts just in case we need them. Here in Texas we do not get as cold in the winter as you do.
We used the clear 4X8 sheets of plastic corrugated roofing sheets and just screwed them to frame of the run with wing nuts. We did predrill the holes in the plastic the first time. Using the clear sheets, the chickens still have light and can see out. Every spring, we take them down and put the wingnuts in a zip lock bag (so we can find them come winter again 🙂
I found the sheets cheap on CL. We have been using the same sheets for 5 years now, and they are still like new. BTW, I do number them with a black marker pen so when I go to put them up again the holes will always line up. I also dont cover the door, so they get plenty of air.
We’re in Seattle, and we wrap the end of our run in a similar way, not just to keep the rain out, but also to provide shelter from the high winds that blow this time of year. I like your system of using 1x2s to fasten the plastic with. I’ve been using plastic zip-ties threaded through the hardware cloth, which give a nice look and a tight fit, but takes a bit of time to install in the fall. I use the clear plastic sheet, and can use leftover plastic sheet in a few months, stretched over hoops to give the garden an early start.
Nina mentioned on our Facebook page that she uses landscape fabric to wrap her coop. “Its breathable, but keeps the snow and rain out,” she said. “They really love it. They go out to get fresh air even when its below zero, as long as its dry.” Great tip.