One of the most challenging aspects of keeping backyard chickens in this region is dealing with the weather. In the high desert, we have scorching summers but we still get snow and colder temps in the fall and winter months. (For example, last week we were at 17 degrees!) Thankfully, our converted rabbit hutch has been great for our micro flock so far. The openness allows for a lot of air circulation and allows our ladies to stay cool during the warmer months. To insulate it for winter, we decided to try an idea posted by Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont. Instead of using TechFoil, however, we went with the less expensive Reflectix at Home Depot. It doesn’t insulate as well since it has only one bubble layer (foil-bubble-foil), but then we will not get as cold as upper Vermont either. In fact, I hear from a local meteorologist that we are expecting a mild winter this year.
The challenge with covering our coop versus the hoop coop in Vermont is that we had to essentially cut out a pattern to fit the coop. It wasn’t a quick fix to be sure. And, when we began to construct the insulating cover two weekends ago, we were racing against time as as an impending cold front was on its way. At first, we tried to staple the strips of insulation but the staples didn’t hold. Reflectix sells a special tape and we ended up using that instead. Flaps were cut out to allow access to the coop doors and we are experimenting with velcro strips to secure them at night. There is still some tweaking to do, but at least our feathered friends are staying warm at night! We also finished piecing the covering together just as the rain began to fall that weekend. Whew!
So how did the girls take to their atomic chicken coop? Initially, they were quite hesitant, but as the temps dropped and the rain began to fall that first evening, they were at least smart enough to take the risk of entering the coop to stay dry. Now, they don’t seem to mind it a bit. And, as much of an eye sore as it is right now, our neighbors politely say they haven’t even noticed it. The plan eventually, however, is to cover the foil with some sort of fabric. Or, we may have to re-use the Reflectix on wood panels next year if this idea doesn’t pan out. Its all a grand experiment to be sure.
And the ducks? They are happily abiding in their cedar house which is now insulated with hay bales flanking three of the exterior walls. We also insulated the door with Reflectix. All in all, our entire flock seems warm and toasty for now. We are not looking forward to disassembling the insulation this spring, however. I’m glad that we have a few months before tackling that chore!