It’s very important to protect your chicken coop in the rain, wind, and snow. It helps keep the coops dry, which is especially helpful if you have wooden coops like us, and it helps insulate when it snows. It’s also important to think of how your chickens are going to fare in very wet or very cold weather, and protecting your coops should be one of your main priorities.
I’ll give you a little back story. In February 2018, the Beast from the East hit the UK and I’ll be honest, we definitely were not prepared for it. Our poor chickens spent most of that time huddled together, eating as much food as they possibly could, while we struggled to keep the coops warm and the water from freezing. It wasn’t a very nice time for any of us, my toes still curl at the thought of being that cold again!
Naturally, when we heard that we would be in for some snow again this year, we took action. We knew that if we kept the attitude of “oh it’ll only be a day or two, we never get snow!” we had before last year, we would end up losing our chickens. Where we lived before the garden and the coops were fairly protected, and the snow didn’t get too deep. The deepest it got in that garden was about a foot. Here, on the other hand, we’re definitely not protected at all.
How to protect your chicken coops
It cost us very little to do, and our chickens love it. I’m actually thinking of keeping it as it is until we’re into Spring and the last frost has passed.
It’s kept the wind off of the coops, and apart from having to drill new vent holes in the front of the coops to keep healthy air flow, it hasn’t affected our routine with the chickens much at all.
The chickens are a lot happier to go to bed at night too. It’s a lot warmer for them, and I was actually surprised when I put my hand in one of the coops the other day and I could feel a significant difference in temperature. It’s not warm enough to worry about them regulating their body temperature, but it’s enough that I know they’re not cold at night.
If you do this with enough planning, you can get your supplies a lot cheaper than having to find it the same day. We’d been putting off covering up the chickens as long as possible, as we’d had the forecast of snow multiple times before any appeared.
At the first sign of it though, we covered them up with plastic sheets and held that down with an 8 hook bungee cord. We only ended up using 5 of the hooks for it to fit the coops, but it definitely holds it on well.
As you can see, it’s not the prettiest design we’ve come up with, but it works. We’ve had 50+ MPH gusts since then, and apart from tying down the loose edges just in case, we’ve had no problems with it. the plastic is still on nice and tight, exactly where we left it, and the coops haven’t fallen over either.
The plastic sheet we ended up using is often used as a pond liner, or as a waterproof barrier in certain building projects. We were given a huge cut-off, which was enough for all three coops with lots of plastic to spare.
You can find it online, or some garden centres should sell it. I’m not entirely sure you’d find a huge piece like we were given, but definitely big enough to maybe cut in half or use one for each coop.
The bungee cords we got were from Halfords. I did try to find a link for them, but unfortunately, the ones we bought don’t seem to be on the website. Here’s a close up of the bungee cords.
As you can see, it’s a ring with 4 bungee cords folded in half around it, giving each cord 2 usable ends or, like what we did, you can make some of them longer.
It’s probably not the way it’s intended to be used, but we didn’t realise just how long they would have to be until we got home, and the snow was still falling.
Either way, it’s held up really well in the weather. It’s kept the plastic in place, and it’s not moved at all! I like that the ring holds it all together in the middle, as it means we were able to spread the pressure over the entire coop instead of having different pressures and weights, pulling the coop off centre.
Wrapping up the coop
First, we measured the coops to make sure that the plastic was big enough on all three coops to be of use. It turns out we got a lot of overhang on the corners, but we decided it was better to have a little too much than having too little.
Once the plastic was in place, we stretched the bungee cords over the coops, making sure there was at least one on each side. We ended up having to put a couple of screws into the wood for the front hooks, and on two of the coops.
I would strongly advise you do this as a team, as we learnt you definitely need two people holding them in place! We had two instances where it pinged back, thankfully neither of us got hurt, but I wouldn’t want to do it on my own.
We also ended up tying down the extra plastic, simply because it was flapping about a lot in the wind when it was tied down. It wasn’t a problem necessarily, but it did make for an annoying noise when we got very strong gusts!
If you decide to protect your chicken coop this was, make sure there are some small holes for air circulation that aren’t covered! It’s very important to keep good air flow through the coop, as I mentioned in my post on How to look after chickens in winter.
You can also use this way of protecting the coop to insulate it. Many people put thin duvets under the plastic to keep them a little warmer. I’ve seen this done with rabbits and other outdoor animal coops too.
How do you protect your coops? Do you have any tips for me? Let me know down below!