Kara and Jeff M. sent me a couple of winter updates from their Garden Coop in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I thought I’d share some of their ideas here for anyone looking to give their chickens a little extra protection from the snow and cold. Here’s update #1:
There was a blizzard here overnight and so far we have 18″, and it’s still snowing and blowing. It’s been bitterly cold all week, and we’ve been contemplating what to do to make sure our girls are safe and secure.
Finally, last night in the dark, Jeff and a friend wrapped the run in heavy plastic—leaving the ceiling open. It worked wonderfully! It might not be the most perfect job (done in the dark and trying to beat the storm), but it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. . .
Our plan was to wrap the coop from the ground up to 4′, as you illustrate on your website, but with the impending blizzard and the thought of sideways blowing snow—and perhaps 2′ of snow—they decided to cover it up to the top. We can always take down what we don’t need. . .
Happy Holidays and, again, thanks for this great design. We have three different local families who have lost nearly their entire flocks to raccoons/predators in the last few weeks. Thank goodness we have this coop. Our kids are soooo attached to the chickens. I can’t imagine losing them like that.
—Kara and Jeff
After several days of this cold, cold weather, I’d say that the girls are nice and snug in their Garden Coop. Of course, we are projecting our own “boy, we’re cold, so they must be” feelings on to them, but really they are fine!
The plastic is staying put and really helping with the wind. We put in a heated waterer, one of the plastic ones, and that has been a great thing. Also, we added insulation this summer when we built the coop and have a piece of insulation and plywood resting on the roof (removable for better weather).
We also started giving them scratch every afternoon. Just a few handfuls in addition to their regular laying feed and leftovers (they LOVE pasta!). We are getting between 3-4 eggs a day from the 7 of them, so eggs have been the centerpiece of our holiday giving this year, and people are very appreciative. It’s been great to share eggs with our friends, neighbors, and teachers.
We are very grateful we took the extra effort and did the dug-in hardware cloth—especially when we are hearing these heartbreaking stories of chickens being eaten by critters. That would be a tragedy beyond measure for us and our kids. We sure do love our chickens!
—Kara and Jeff
Thanks, Kara and Jeff, for sending your ideas and pictures. You can see more pictures of their Garden Coop build and others on our Make It Your Own page.
Have any winter chicken coop tips to share? Post a comment or email us at TheGardenCoop.com. Have a Happy, Eggy New Year!
4 thoughts on “Let it snow!”
Karen, on The Garden Ark the inner roost is near the double doors, and there is a gap of about 3/4″ or so there between the edge of the floor and the doors. As long as you cover the area above the roost and push the roost in enough so that the hens bodies are not directly over that gap, the airflow through there won’t be a problem. They need ventilation in the winter, you just don’t want a constant draft disrupting the insulation of their feathers.
What if the roosts are directly in front of the side door?
Lindea, I plan to post some more ideas on winter prep soon, so stay tuned. . . but to answer your question specifically: If you live in a region where the winters are particularly harsh, then you may want to address the entry hole in the floor either by 1) closing it up at night (just lay a board over it) or 2) sealing it up permanently and moving the ramp to the side wall.
In the most recent version of The Garden Coop chicken coop plan, I’ve begun recommending the side-entry option for colder climates. It’s a simple change if you’ve already built the coop. Just move the ramp so that it comes up to the inner wall of the henhouse near the rear of the coop. This gives you uninterrupted floor space in the henhouse and limits updraft in the winter.
In mild climates where winter temps rarely get below freezing, you could leave the hole in the floor (remember, it has a nice cooling effect in the summer) — just make sure you don’t have their roosts positioned directly over the hole in the winter and cover the area above the henhouse right above the roosts.
I’m curious if you cover the opening in the henhouse floor during really cold weather (where the ramp comes up). Seems like a lot of cold air would come up through there. This is my first winter with chickens, so I want to make sure they stay warm enough in below freezing weather. Thanks!