It is never too early to start thinking about winterizing your coop. Most coops fall into two groups. One type of coop is made from existing buildings such as part of a barn or an ice house. DIY coops could be put in this category too as they were all probably insulated when they were built.
The other group of coops are the kind that are built from a coop kit. You can order these kits online or purchase them at DYI big box stores. They turn out to be cute, little coops that hold less than 10 chickens.
The problem is that these coops do not come insulated. You may have bought them in the spring when it was warm and now we are headed towards winter. What can be done to them to help them remain a cozy home for all your birds?
The first thing that comes to mind is insulation. I would suggest using reflective insulation. You can easily measure, cut and attach the insulation using a staple gunstaple gun or with spray contact adhesive. Just cover the sides and the ceiling of your coop with the reflective insulation and tape the seams with aluminum foil tape.
I have found that the chickens do not pay a whole lot of attention to the shininess of the insulation. They will, however, peck at the pink insulation or the styrofoam insulation and eat it as well. That is why I do not recommend using that kind. The birds have never pecked at the silver insulation and it has worked well for us.
Make sure that there is adequate ventilation across the top part of the coop. You do not want drafts at the bottom where the silkies sleep, but you do want there to be air exchange inside of the coop. Moisture build up is not good for the birds and causes respiratory issues. If you see a frost build up inside the coop on the walls and doors, then you need to have the windows opened wider.
I would also suggest wrapping the run in clear plastic. The plastic cuts down the sharp, cold wind inside the run and keeps the snow out. Silkies do not like walking on the snow. You want your birds to have fresh air, so I don’t wrap all of the run. Make sure you do the north and the west side as that is where the winds are the strongest. I do not wrap the door. When spring comes, take down the plastic and save it for next fall.
You will need some way to keep the water dish from freezing. Some people use heated dog bowls. We use heated bases with galvanized metal waterers on top. You will need to run a heavy duty electrical cord out to the coop to run either of these water options.
Chickens generate a lot of body heat when they are together. Silkies tend to huddle up together to keep each other warm. Heat is also generated from the heated water bases. If your coop is small, this should be enough to keep things warm.
I do not think it is healthy for a chicken to go from hot to cold temperatures every time they go out in the run. Both places should be about the same temperature. If you use the insulation and the heater bases, these small coops should be warm even with a small number of chickens.
We have a weekly silkie blog at VJPPoultry.com. Remember to check out Silkie Supplies for your basic silkie needs.