Blocking drafts in the chicken coop (just for winter)

A few days ago I posted about insulating a chicken coop. This was an excellent solution for that particular coop. A permanent solution to some of the problems in the chicken coop caused by cold weather. However, not all coops are created equal. Today I want to talk about temporary insulation and our 'Wild West' coop. 

This coop has excellent ventilation at ceiling level. This is where you want the ventilation. Any lower and it's no longer's just a draft. (drafts are bad) 

coop ventilation

With ventilation, the air flow does not come in direct contact with the chickens, it wafts above them near the top of the chicken coop. Drafts occur when the natural air flow comes in direct contact with the chickens. Draft during cold periods can kill animals. However, we've hit a cold spell here in Western Pennsylvania and this morning it was just 3 degrees Fahrenheit when we woke up. 3!!!! Yesterday with the wind chill it was -20! So even normal ventilation was a bit much lately. 

Check out Hobby Farms coop builder for more information on ventilation and drafts.
Two nights ago we decided to stuff some of the ventilation holes in the chicken coop. We couldn't use anything permanent because it often gets up to the 90s here in the summer and that ventilation is needed. This coop doesn't have a condensation problem like the other one and when the temps hits the 40s and up, it's just fine. So whatever we used had to be easy to remove.

We decided on towels. Yup, free and easy. Just stuff them in.

Blocking drafts in the chicken coop

It's a little tricky because like most coops, this one has wire over the ventilation holes to keep out predators. We used the dogs towels (shhh, don't tell her.....she doesn't need them till summer anyway) My chickens aren't real picky, they don't care what it looks like. 

The wind no longer blows through near the top of the coop and the birds are doing great. Plus, I can pull them back out as soon as it warms up and it only takes minutes to stuff them back in if we get another cold snap. 

I only stuff the holes on the side of the coop with the roosts. In this coop that's about half the coop. The back half. The front half is left open for ventilation. They still need it even in the cold! Lack of ventilation can cause moisture buildup which leads to frostbite and other problems.

drafts, chicken coop

Cardboard coop insulation

If the drafts in your coop are coming through the walls you'll want to cover those too. Large pieces of cardboard or feed bags can be stapled along the walls to block the drafts. These can easily be pulled down when the weather gets warmer. 

Drafts aren't really a big deal in summer. Just make sure you don't leave staples on the floor when you pull the bags or cardboard down....the chickens will eat them and that would be bad! 

To pinpoint exactly where drafts are go into the coop on a sunny day. Keep the coop light off and check all the walls for places the light shines through. These are where the drafts are coming through. Cut cardboard to fit and use a staple gun to attach to walls and cover the holes. 

As you can see, we have a problem with one of our's been a problem since it was built and the one wall has moisture issues so the wood is splitting. Check out that story in Our First Coop: The Biggest Mistake.

Cardboard over draft holes in chicken coop wall.

Now that there is less ventilation we have to pay extra attention to the coop litter. Too much moisture and the ammonia content builds up which of course, is a bad thing! I add a mix of barn lime and Diatomaceous Earth with extra bedding and it keeps it dry enough. 

We also open the pop door every day so the chickens can go out if they want, which lets in fresh air at ground level. We keep the big doors closed when it's this cold. Once it gets past the teens, the main doors get opened daily. That adds much needed ventilation.

Hope your chickens are staying warm and dry this winter!

Need more information on cold weather chicken care? Check out all my posts on raising chickens in winter!


Want information on raising chickens sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published. You'll also get the free download 25 Ways to save money raising chickens.


  1. Another great tip - it's similar to what we are doing in Scotland, except that our hen house is a lot smaller so we stuff the gap with those disposable blue and white dish cloths.

    1. Great idea! I should use those for the Silkie house! There are a few small drafts I'd like to block on that one. Stay warm!


  2. Good tip! I never would have thought to just stuff towels in the vents. I'll keep that in mind!

  3. Well I confess!! I stuffed newspapers all in mine!!!! Hey-It Works!!!!!

    1. Great idea! Whatever works to keep the drafts out of the coop in winter!