anxious chicken mama trying to balance ventilation and coziness

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by luvpartridge, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. luvpartridge

    luvpartridge Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2011
    hello wise chicken lovers
    i am hoping for advice on winter ventilation. i have read the faq pages on ventilation, and read all about happy arctic chickens, and am NOT heating my coop, tho we live in the cold northeast (boston, ma area). but, being a newbie and worried mama, i want to make sure our coop doesnt have too much or too little ventilation.

    we have a coop that is 3' by 5' and about 6 ft hi, built inside a preexisting shed that is about 12 by 12 feet and 15 feet high. we have three bantam hens.

    we have LOTS of summer ventilation: there is a hardware cloth window next to the chicken door, and half of the coop roof is made of hardware cloth. the shed itself has two small 2 by 2 foot hardware cloth gable windows.

    for winter, i put plexi and a shutter over the hardware cloth coop window, and covered part of the hardware cloth in the coop roof with a board--the part where the hens have their roost. i also insulated two walls of the coop--the ones that are inside the shed, cause i couldnt insulate the pre-existing shed walls. and i put plastic over one of the shed gable windows, so there would be less wind thru the shed.

    here are my questions:
    1. the chicken door is about two feet off the ground, because there was a preexisting window there. i worried this will cause too much i tried putting plastic flaps over it, but the hens were afraid and wouldnt go thru it any more. advice?
    2. is it bad to vent the coop thru the roof, since the coop is inside a shed?
    3. should i vent thru the upper walls of the coop instead?
    4. is the current 2 by 2 foot vent in the coop roof not enough, or too much?
    5. should i insulate more over the roost, or protect it more somehow?

    thanks!!! all advice and feedback appreciated!
    ps--i DID get a water heater, so their galvanized water tank wont freeze. but i worry about it burning up my shed, cause i use deep litter pine shavings. i'm thinking of building a little box for it to live under, with a screen top to keep out the shavings. what do you think?

    i'm adding pictures:
    the shed and run [​IMG]
    the coop inside the shed [​IMG]
    coop close up [​IMG]
    the hens on their roost, with the hardware cloth roof vent and chicken door visible [​IMG]
    the open part of the roof vent [​IMG]
    the chicken food and water, with the shuttered, plexi'd window and the chicken door [​IMG]
    the chicken door from the outside [​IMG]
  2. Mavrik

    Mavrik Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2011
    I didn't read your post, but how I balance the ventilation is by smell. Ammonia smell, too little ventilation. Flow though drafts is what you want to avoid for chicken health.
  3. smeek1

    smeek1 Out Of The Brooder

    May 7, 2011
    from what I understand the need for ventilation is dependent on how often you plan to clean your coop. If you are not going to scoop the poop for months at a time then they need more ventilation. as far as wind protection, I think if there is a way for them to get out of the air flow by moving to another part of the coop, they are going to do that if they need to.
  4. luvpartridge

    luvpartridge Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2011
    thanks! so far, the only ammonia smell was when water was getting into the coop when it rained. so, i put up the clear panels over the run, so rain wouldnt get in, and now no more ammonia, nice dry pine shavings. i thought the ventilation issue was more about preventing frostbite from too much condensation?
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    I think you did a great job.

    Covering the part of the vent that was just above where the chickens roost was exactly what I would have done. It makes that roosting corner cozy and prevents the air from drafting through the roost area, on it's way up and out of the coop. You left the rest of the roof vent open, so they'll still have ventilation up high. I think that's perfect.

    I don't think you need plastic flaps over the pop hole door. They should be fine with it open. It will also help bring fresh air in, that can move up to the roof vent. Since it's right above the door, the chickens can spend time inside the rest of the coop away from the door, if it's a colder day, to be more comfortable.

    The way I manage litter, the only time ammonia is a problem is if the litter is too wet or needs more shavings added. It sounds like taking care of your leak solved your problem. For me, ventilation is to manage a lot of different air quality issues, including moisture. Excess humidity in winter can contribute to frostbite. I don't want the coop air to be more humid than the outside air in the winter or hotter than the outside air in the summer. It should be close, at least. If I have enough ventilation to accomplish that, then things like carbon dioxide and small amounts of dust are being taken care of, too.
  6. seanb

    seanb Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2011
    Central PA
    Quote:Great post! Makes sense to me. I'm currently trying to button up our coop a little bit more for the winter but still provide adequate ventilation.

    Thanks for weighing in.
  7. kittycooks

    kittycooks Chillin' With My Peeps

    I keep my hens out of the wind, but gage the ventilation balance by having the inside of the enclosure frost free. The first year I had chickens in my current set up I had severe frost build up inside the plastic covered run. Each year I have added more ventilating windows and the frost has decreased. I agree with WoodlandWoman that you don't need a door flap as long as the set up is out of the wind. I love your clear panels to block moisture and wind!
  8. luvpartridge

    luvpartridge Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2011
    woodland woman, thanks for your words of support and advice, i will not keep my plastic door flaps!

    and kittycooks--i loved your website! the section on frost free chickens made lots of sense, and i really liked the details you included like using two buckets for hauling water etc.

    thanks to all!
  9. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2011
    Milner, Georgia
    I have a ridge vent on my coop. After reading this thread I close my coop up completely last night just to see what ventilation I was getting with the vent. When I went out to let them out I opened one of the windows just a bit to see what odor I got rushing out. I had hardly any. Now I could smell an odor cuz they are chickens, but nowhere to the extent I was expecting. All I had venting was hot are going up.
    You can see the ridge vent here.
  10. luvpartridge

    luvpartridge Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2011
    what's the temp there now in georgia? and is that the only vent? how many chickens do you have?
    thanks for the photo, i'd love to see more images that clearly show venting systems!

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