Bring it On, We are Weatherproof!

December 13, 2010
Oyster Cracker staying dry.

One of the cardinal rules in raising backyard chickens is to maintain a dry weathertight coop with excellent ventilation.  For the past 2 months, I have been trying to fix a leak in the nesting boxes.  I had troubleshooted like crazy, trying to figure out where the water was getting in.  Obviously there was a flaw in the design and I was determined to remedy the situation.  The leak did not cause puddles in the boxes.  It just caused the walls to get wet. I could not accept wet walls, as they can lead to mold and sick chickens.  Since we live in the Northeast, I also wanted to create a cover for the run that would serve a few purposes.  The cover would allow the chickens to go out in nasty weather.  It should keep the run dry and protect it from snow.  In addition, I wanted the cover to be removable and easy to store.  Thus, I made a trip to Home Depot with my ideas firmly planted in my head.

The first stop was the paint department.  There, I picked up a plastic 6 mil. opaque painter’s tarp.  I felt that the thickness of the tarp would lend to its durability.  The roll I selected would also allow me to create two covers just in case something happened to the first one.  In the lumber section, I picked up three 1″x2″x8′ boards.  I also selected some Gorilla Tape as well.  Next, I went over to the flooring department.  On a large roll, I found some type of clear plastic floor covering.  It was thick and flexible; this would definitely do the trick.  Fifty dollars later, I was on my way home to bring my ideas to reality.

First with the help of my neighbor, his power tools and a few stainless steel screws, we addressed the leak in the nesting boxes.  We cut a small piece of plastic to size.  It was approximately 5″x40″.  We bent the plastic up under the transom window, predrilled some holes and adhered it with four screws.  Next we bent the plastic around the edges of the nesting boxes and stapled it into place.  Finally, I cut another piece of plastic about 10″x39″ and slid that underneath the plastic we had just adhered to the nesting boxes.  I did not staple it in place, as I did not want it to be a permanent fixture.  In times of pleasant weather, I wanted the remove the second piece of plastic, allowing the roof to breathe.


Final product with securing brick


Next I moved onto the run.  I cut the plastic painter’s tarp to fit the run.  Next I stapled the boards along the top of the plastic and along the bottom sides.  After stapling the sides, I Gorilla taped the plastic around the boards.  The finished cover is about 8 feet in length when rolled and can easily fit into a corner of my garage when not in use.  This tarp is going to be great when we expect snow and even rain for longer periods of time.  My chickens will be especially happy now that they have the option to go in the run and be protected from the elements.
Adhering the plastic under the window
Last night, when I went to lock in the flock, I added some landscaping rocks, logs and anything else I could find around the yard to help anchor the plastic tarp in place.  I also placed a brick on top of the nesting box covers just in case the one that was not attached was taken by the wind.  Last night it poured.  We also had gusts of 60 miles per hour.  Cape Cod is a very windy place!  I did not sleep well.  The rain was coming down in buckets and the wind was howling.  I knew that this storm was going to be the true test of my MacGyvering skills.



Boards, wood and stone help secure tarp


This morning when I went to check on everyone, the entire coop was dry including the nesting boxes!  The run was also dry and the tarp did not blow off.  This morning, I felt like I won.  I was proud of my accomplishments in weatherproofing.  I did not win a marathon and I did not win an Emmy.  However, I am a hero in the eyes of the chickens and my children and that my friends, is one of the best feelings in the world.
Dry fluffy bottoms
Chocolate on the lookout


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13 thoughts on “Bring it On, We are Weatherproof!”

  1. i ordered online a clear grommeted tarp that fits perfectly over the 9'run and use small bungies from lowes that clip through grommet and wire. i also had a problem the first year with leakage on what was for me, the northeast corner of the nest box. i kept an eye on it after that and it seemed to self remedy – maybe wood adaptation after construction?

  2. Hi Mary Beth, Isn't that so interesting? A builder friend helped me to redo the nesting box roof and I also added some weather stripping. That seems to have done the trick. I love being able to share information and ideas about our coops with each other! Thank you.

  3. Hi! I'm a chicken newbie but have been following your blog (almost to a T!) and it has been SO INCREDIBLY HELPFUL!!! I'm wondering if you can tell me what you are using in the bottom of your run? A few weeks ago, when I transitioned the chickens outside, it was green grass and so happy! Now, it's patchy and starting to get yucky looking. I've been reading about people using sand? We live in New England, too (Vermont) and I'm not sure what the best stuff might be for us to use?

    • So glad to help! Yes, the run. I usually toss the pine shavings from the coop into the run once per week. It keeps it pretty dry. I also cover the run with plastic when I know we are expecting a good amount of rain. I also toss clean shavings into the run when it gets really wet too. The sand works well too. Think of it like a litter box for chickens. In fact, this is what our state's poultry inspector recommends. Good Luck!

  4. I have the same coop you do and had a leak problem too! I ended up stapling Tyvec to the lid of the nesting box. I used plastic like you did on it in the winter, but left one side on, covered it with shade cloth so they have a larger dry area in the summer. I'd love to find a waterproof breathable cloth to use year round…anyone know of where to find that?

  5. I live in the Northeast and I don't have a covered run for my chickens. I have their door open and I figure that they can go in and out as they please. After have a big rain storm last week, I realized just because the weather is bad, they still choose to be out! Of course, they are soaked when they come into their coop. I am guessing I should not let them out in the rain and snow. Where it is winter, is it to late to set something up outside to keep them dry?

    • Most chicken breeds are okay with a little bit of rain. They will got out and about in the rain and their natural oiled feathers will repel water to some degree. They are also okay in the snow. It is not good if they get "soaked to the bone" and the temperatures are freezing. It is not too late to set up a covered enclosure, dry and protected from the elements. When big snowfall arrives early next year, your flock will be happy to have a place not covered in deep snow.

  6. I have 10 chickens and live in the Northeast and I don't have a covered runner for my chickens. Last week there was a rainstorm and my chickens still went outside. I assumed that it would be ok if they went outside if rain didn't bother them.They stayed outside and went in and out of the coop through out the day. I don't want them to get sick. Is there something quick and easy I can do to make a covered run? Also I am trying to use the compost method by adding the shavings in the coop every 4 days and scooping out what I can for before I add more shavings. what do you recommend for chickens that should to be added to their diet and coop for the season? Thanks!

    • Hi Sue, I replied to your last comment. You have wonderful questions and I would encourage you to check out my free chicken guide. Click on the tab at the top of the page that says "chickens". Many of the answers to your questions can be found there. Happy Holidays!


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.