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Cheap, Quick & Easy Hen House Insulation

You can click on the pictures to make them bigger & less blurry :)
ooh, and let me know if you give it a go or if you have a better idea!

Straw around the hen shed. Somewhere to get off the snow.

This cold weather is a bit full-on for the time of year! I was almost prepared, I had recycled this old hen shed & filled it with enough birds to keep each other warm (9 hens & 2 Indian Runner ducks) & I moved it into a spot very sheltered from the freezing, North winds. 

A dear online friend ( told me to give the birds pasta before bed, as they digest it they give off extra heat. So I've been dutifully pasta-ing them up every night & giving them more corn than they can eat.  

Satisfied I was doing all I could to keep my birds warm, I sat back feeling really pleased with myself.

Luna & Beauty trying to keep warm

The first really cold day the hens came out of their shed absolute frozen. They were shivering & all most wanted to do was stand still, puff up & shut down. Being new to keeping hens I thought this is just what they did & they'd be fine. So I checked on them throughout the day & they were cold but didn't seem to be suffering too much. Well, that was until I saw Mrs Norris...

Cluck Norris got too cold over night.

By midday she was the only one that wasn't moving about. I watched her try though, she stretched out her leg but it was shaking so much she immediately pulled it back. This was too much for me, so I swept her up & held her till she stopped shaking (but I started!). I'd then put her down & she'd start moving about & scratching. I checked on her an hour later & she was frozen again, so I hugged her till she warmed up again & again she started scratching about. I checked on her an hour later... she'd totally shut down.

So I installed her in my log basket (1st basket I ever made!), next to the wood burner. I put water & food in the basket for her too. She stayed like the picture above for the next 8 hours! The poor thing had got so cold over night that she couldn't get warm in the day. 

I can't have my animals, that fill my belly with eggs, suffer. So, it was action stations. When we recycled the hen shed I wanted to clad the inside with ply to make it easier to protect against red mite, less nooks & crannies. I never got round to it though because the shed was for winter so it wasn't a real priority. 

Glad I didn't now because our solution to the cold was to insulate the house by temporarily cladding the inside with cardboard & stuffing straw behind it! Recycled cardboard from my other half's work, felt roof tacks for attaching the cardboard to the frame of the walls & straw from our local straw guy!

Speckle inspecting the insulation.. "shoddy"...

We used big boxes opened up & tacked them onto the bits of wood the sheds external planks are nailed to, the frame I s'pose it's called. That left a cavity, which we densely stuffed with straw.

Felt roofing tacks

It took about an hour & the effect was almost instant. Sorted out any draughts we might have missed before & now there was no way any heat generated by the animals would leach out. I was careful to ensure there was adequate ventilation.

When I open the shed in the morning the heat hits me & everybody is bright & chirpy & ready to take on the cold of the day. Worth an hour or so, innit?!

The cardboard is a temporary solution till we've got enough money to replace the cardboard with ply & I then want to stuff it with wool.

Protecting the electric fence battery

We put the battery for the electric fence on some straw & covered it with a box to protect it from the cold & snow.

The Lings enjoying straw to chill on.. *snigger.."chill"..get it.. ah, erm..*
I also noticed that the ducks were only able to walk on the snow for a couple of feet before having to lie down & warm their feet up in their wings. They have a favourite place to hang out so I put some straw down for them. It was a hit straight away! I also put straw around the hen shed so they all have somewhere to go to get off the snow. That's where I put their feeder & water. You can see in the picture at the top of the post they appreciate it!

Dunnock scoffing corn

 In this cold our wild birds really need our help. The poultry feeder & drinker always have wild birds pinching sustenance! It's surprising how much birds need to drink in this cold. If you can, please feed the birds & give them some water. In this freezing weather the water will need breaking every morning. I welcome them helping themselves & hope they don't suffer too much in this cold.

Robin about to scoff corn

Any questions please, please just ask me!

hen xx


  1. Hi Hen

    Just a thought, would it be possible to collect small sticks and branches from near by. You could the tack them horizontally to the timber studs and pack the gap between the sticks on the inside and the timber on the outside with straw or wool. It would require quite a few sticks to make an internal stack or hurdle of sticks to form the internal skin, but if it might save the hassle of getting ply or osb and cutting it to suit.

  2. We've been suffering the icy conditions down here in Truro for a while now and I've been worrying about my 2 hens...I gave them more straw, but your idea of using it to insulate the 'walls' is brilliant. Off to find some cardboard boxes :) Thank you!


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