Do you need to winterize your chicken coop? Do you own a store bought chicken coop? I’ll show you in this post will show you how to insulate a prefab chicken coop for less than $10.
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Why A Prefab Chicken Coop?
Many people with backyard chickens have store bought prefabricated coops. Some come in natural wood whilst others are painted already.
We purchased the Precision Chicken Coop Old Red Barn II for our meat birds for a variety of reasons:
- Ease of building
For me in Utah, the feed stores have lots of bigger chicks available and it is a good time to start raising backyard chickens because by the time spring comes around, your hens will be old enough to be laying eggs!
If you read my previous post about how the insulation in our normal coop has held up over the last year you would have met our new chicks! If you missed it, you can meet them in my YouTube video below:
As you can see in the video, these girls are big and have feathered out. The dog crate brood box we had cobbled together was now too small for them.
We needed a coop fast. I wanted these chicks too feel grass under their feet and have the opportunity to peck, scratch, dust bath and all the normal chicken activities.
As these new birds are mostly for meat, in late December or early January the Leghorns will be culled. The Brahmas will go in March with our existing Jersey Giant and the three remaining chickens (Barred Rock, Golden Laced Wyandotte and the Cuckoo Maran) will migrate to the main coop with the older layers. This will empty the pre-fab coop to raise Cornish Cross and Leghorns as meat birds over summer.
I was planning on building this A-frame chicken tractor or ark coop by Ana White for the meat birds. This type of design works well for us to give the meat birds grass to scratch and peck at and will probably be something I still build in 2018.
In all honesty, I just didn’t have the time to clear a space to work outside under cover from the rain to build the chicken tractor and get it all done this weekend so we opted to buy a coop.
The great thing about the Old Red Barn II coop was that it was already painted and works with the color schemes of the existing coop, greenhouse and shed! It was a convenient option available that was in our price range.
The Precision Pet Chicken Coop Old Red Barn II was available at our local farm supply store and it was on sale! We were already at the farm supply store picking up feed, chicken grit and pine wood shavings and we conveniently picked it up right then and there.
This coop was ideal for the smaller chick housing whilst the older flock figure out the newcomers and will serve well for the meat birds or as a hospital or quarantine coop for the other birds when empty.
Ease of Building
I’m not a builder really. My general approach to building things is to hit it with a hammer repeatedly but I actually put the Old Red Barn II coop together myself. I only needed help from someone to hold up part of the run section at the front which wasn’t square and to hold the first roofing piece in place whilst I screwed it in.
The whole thing took a drill with a cross head screw bit to put together. I bought this BLACK+DECKER rechargeable drill kit when I first moved to the US and I have used if for every single building project including the greenhouse, raised beds and the chicken coops. BLACK+DECKER rechargeable drill kit has been amazing!
I managed to put this coop together in a couple of hours including time taken to insulate the coop to get the chickens ready for winter.
How To Insulate A Prefab Chicken Coop
The method of insulating a store bought chicken coop for winter is different to my normal method of winterizing a chicken coop.
The spacing available on a prefabricated chicken coop is much smaller than if you were to build your own and factor in space to insulate.
I used 1/2 inch 4 ft by 8 ft insulation panel from the hardware store. Is is polystyrene covered with a Mylar blanket and cost me $8.27. Cover this insulation with cardboard to hide the shiny Mylar coating. If your chickens are prone to pecking at insulation, cover the insulation with thin wood to prevent them pecking through.
I insulated the coop as I built it knowing that winter is on it’s way and I wanted to be sure the chicks would adapt to their new home without the shock of the cold.
You can do the same thing with polystyrene packaging or insulation and survival or Mylar blankets. It is worth noting that you can use thicker hard foam insulation and reduce the space in the coop but be sure to have adequate ventilation for moisture to evaporate.
Step 1: Measure the space
I was only insulating the slatted wood panel area not the vertical beams which were going to be insulated for this project:
I measured the panel shapes and drew them on the back of the insulation panel.
Measure twice and cut once to be sure you measured it correctly!
The top of the coop was slanting so I made a paper template and transferred the shape to the insulation panel and cut out. This works well for awkward shapes.
Step 2: Cut out
I used a Stanley Utility Knife to cut out the pieces. Take care to keep your non-cutting hand out of the way and practice good cutting techniques when using a razor knife. You can use scissors to cut the insulation if you prefer.
I used a Steel Carpenter’s Square to help keep the edges straight as I was measuring and cutting.
Some pieces I made into smaller shapes which were easier to cut and manage.
Step 3: Glue
For this project, I used Elmer’s Wood Glue Max and placed it on the panel then attached the cut insulation piece.
Some pieces needed clamping on whilst the glue dried. Luckily we had some wood clamps available to use! A piece of scrap wood helps to spread the pressure across the panel. Scrap wood underneath the clamp feet protects the finish of the piece.
Step 4: Allow to Dry
Once you have attached the insulation to all of the panels, allow it to dry. You can see I’m clamping the large panel to the left to ensure it sticks to the wood.
Small gaps in the insulation were filled in with offcuts and scrap strips from cutting.
Since I was insulating as I was putting together, I have only insulated the sides so far. The roof is to be insulated in the same way using the reflective insulation panel (we have over half left still) or, we can staple cardboard and fill with dry straw.
The new chicks seem pretty happy and warm in their new insulated home!
Staple cardboard or thin wood over the insulation to stop your birds pecking at the insulation. Chickens love to peck at things which are shiney!
I added plenty of pine wood shavings and straw for the chicks to get snuggly in and to block any drafts coming in from the joints or underneath the coop. Although the chicks rearranged their new home to how they wanted it!
You can get a tour of the Precision Old Red Barn II coop in my YouTube video below:
Old wool blankets picked up from the thrift store or charity shops placed over the roosting area then covered with a tarp will help keep the rain and snow out and some of the heat in.
Be sure to keep large build ups of snow off the coop so the roof isn’t put under any additional stress.
If you want to know more about winterizing your chicken coops and getting your backyard chickens prepared for winter, take a look at my previous posts:
What is your favorite way to prepare your chicken coop for winter? Let me know in the comments!
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