1. Brechin

    Brechin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2012
    East Bay, CA
    I am building my own coop and there has been a lot of trial and error during the process. It is almost complete but I have a small concern in the roofing department. I am using plastic corrugated roofing material but it seems that there might end up being small gaps because I won't be able to use the special corrugated wood, that helps you attach the roof to the structure, all the on the sides. It will only work on the front and back.

    My question is, are a few air gaps in the roof going to hurt? I am always hearing about drafts but then I also hear about air flow. I currently live in East Bay California and the worst weather I have seen so far is temps in the high 30s at night, some strong wind, and heavy rainfall in the winter months (it is raining buckets right now).

    Should I stop up every hole I see? And if so, how? Spray foam or silicone gel? Or can I leave it and think of it as possible airflow?

  2. KDK1

    KDK1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    Tennessee Plateau
    How big of a gap are you talking about? Welcome to BYC!
  3. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    Before you become concerned about small gaps in the eave of the coop, consider how much ventilation you have. Chickens need ventilation. Openings at the roof level are ideal for ventilation, so that the moist air can rise and flow out of the coop.

    You will need some sort of opening down low to allow for the fresh air to enter when the moist, warm air rises.

    Coops don't need to be air-tight as you would make a house. They do need to be free from drafts. The chickens want to be able to get out of a draft.

    My coop has 4 inches between the roof and upper walls on three sides with 8 inches on the front of the coop. The make up air comes in through the door on the back with 4 square feet open.

    My chickens roost looking out the 8 inch wide opening, so they must like the view and be suitably comfortable there.

  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'm guessing East Bay is in the San Francisco area. If so, your lows are nowhere near dangerous for chickens as long as you don't have their coop so tight that moisture cannot escape. The risk with chickens and cold is frostbite, not them freezing to death unless you have really cold temperatures, like well below zero Fahrenheit, and the chickens are not healthy to start with. Even then, in a good coop, chickens can handle really cold. There is an interesting thread on the forum about people keeping chickens in Alaska without any heat. But their coops are built for that climate.

    You need good ventilation in a coop in winter for two reasons. Their poop produces ammonia. Ammonia can wreck their respiratory system. Ammonia is lighter than air. You need a way for that ammonia to escape that is higher than their heads when they are sleeping.

    If the moisture level in the coop is too high, they can get frostbite anytime the air temperature is below freezing. But if the air is dry, they can handle temperatures well below zero Fahrenheit without danger from frostbite. Warm air holds more moisture than cool air and rises. Once again you need openings above their heads when they are sleeping. And these openings need to be big enough to allow for air transfer. It is practically impossible to get too much ventilation even in winter in really cold climates. It's pretty easy to not get enough.

    There is a "but" with this. Wind chill is a real physical phenomenon. In your climate it is probably not a big deal, but you generally don't want a good strong breeze hitting them when they are sleeping. This sounds like a catch-22 doesn’t it? Good ventilation but no drafts. It’s not. If you have the openings above their heads when they are sleeping any breeze will pass over their heads. Problem solved.

    In your climate if it is the San Francisco type climate, you could probably get away with a coop that had one side totally open. Just cover it with wire and put your roosts back where they are sort of protected from direct breezes. Lots of people do that in warmer climates.

    Heat is your real enemy in your climate. You need as much ventilation as you can manage in the summer. With their down coats, chickens can handle cold much better than heat. Hot air rises. They need a lot of openings above their heads to get rid of the heat and openings at or below where they roost to let air in. When it is hot, you don’t mind breezes hitting them.

    You’ll notice I keep talking about when they are on the roosts and not mentioning other times. When they are not on the roosts, they can choose where they want to be. You don’t have to worry about them nearly as much. Here is a photo I took when the air temperature was 4 degrees Fahrenheit above zero. The wind was not blowing; they really don’t like a cold wind. A warm wind is fine, but not a cold wind. But I left the pop door open and let them decide where they wanted to be. You can see what they chose. Cold really does not bother them as long as they are not in a cold wind.
  5. Brechin

    Brechin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2012
    East Bay, CA
    Oh geez. Well the gap was about 1/8 of an inch but I guess that is actually not enough! I have large 17 inch by 20 inch windows in front (window door door window) with wire. I was going to make shutters for it but maybe I should just leave it open? Sounds like I might need to actually add some extra ventilation towards the back as it is a sloping roof, back to front. I have never had to build a traditional coop as I am origionally from Alaska. I have always kept my chickens in heavy weight tool sheds with no drafts and a fan in the top for ventilation. We always had pretty tight chicken fortresses with electricity for heated waterers, electric fencing (for bears and other large animals), lighting, etc.

    I will not worry about the teensy gaps and start working on your advice RidgeRunner. [​IMG]

    Thanks everyone for your comments and advice!

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