Are My Roosts Too High?

JennAndHens

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May 4, 2021
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I built an A-frame coop, 4’W x 8’L x 4’ high walls with an A-frame style roof. At first, I placed one roost at about 35” off the coop floor and another roost about 15” off the coop floor. Lots of bickering, so I bout 2 roosts at the same height, 35” off the coop floor.

One of the coop windows is below the roosts and one is just about even with the roosts. I have some vents in the peaks of the roosts.
Do I need to lower the roosts for the winter? Will closing the windows be enough? I can try to draft-proof them.

I live in North Cal. Generally mild winters with very little snow, if any, but can get into the 30’s.

thank you!

Hard to se the roosts in the photo. These are the original roosts. Replaced with 2, 2x4 roosts and added a window to the back wall.
Hope this all makes sense!
BAA44C21-D843-48B5-B13F-85D4805468FD.jpeg
 

rosemarythyme

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Your temps are pretty mild but the real question is, do the windows let in draft in typical winter weather? Only you can answer that by going inside the coop and testing for drafts during a storm.

If the windows don't cause drafts at the roost locations, no reason to move them or close them up during colder weather. My top roost sits between two windows that stay open 99% of the time, only getting closed if we have sideways wind blowing rain/snow inside.
 

JennAndHens

Chirping
May 4, 2021
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Your temps are pretty mild but the real question is, do the windows let in draft in typical winter weather? Only you can answer that by going inside the coop and testing for drafts during a storm.

If the windows don't cause drafts at the roost locations, no reason to move them or close them up during colder weather. My top roost sits between two windows that stay open 99% of the time, only getting closed if we have sideways wind blowing rain/snow inside.
Okay. So as long as there’s not wind, rain, or snow coming in, I should be okay? I set up hooks for tarps on the run and they will shield the coop windows as well. I had read that ventilation needs to be above the birds during winter, but my guess is that guideline is for freezing temps. Is that correct?
 

rosemarythyme

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I had read that ventilation needs to be above the birds during winter, but my guess is that guideline is for freezing temps. Is that correct?
So "ventilation above their heads" is generally advised to ensure that any drafts/incoming cold air is well clear of their heads and bodies. You actually can have ventilation almost anywhere. I tested my windows extensively before the birds ever moved in, and in normal weather (including typical rain storms and wind storms powerful enough to knock out power) my window positioning is fine even with the roost right in between.

If you need to test your roost locations, take a lightweight ribbon or string into the coop on a typically windy day and hold it about 12" above the roost. Some movement of the ribbon is fine, but if there's a lot of fluttering and dancing, that means there's a lot of draft at that location, and at that point you'd want to try closing various vents off to see if you can pinpoint the problem vent (which may need to be covered up in colder weather).

Having open windows by the roost was possible because I had the coop built and positioned so that the most solid wall faces into the predominant wind position for my location, and so the other 3 walls can have a lot of open ventilation at different heights with relatively few issues.
 

JennAndHens

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May 4, 2021
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So "ventilation above their heads" is generally advised to ensure that any drafts/incoming cold air is well clear of their heads and bodies. You actually can have ventilation almost anywhere. I tested my windows extensively before the birds ever moved in, and in normal weather (including typical rain storms and wind storms powerful enough to knock out power) my window positioning is fine even with the roost right in between.

If you need to test your roost locations, take a lightweight ribbon or string into the coop on a typically windy day and hold it about 12" above the roost. Some movement of the ribbon is fine, but if there's a lot of fluttering and dancing, that means there's a lot of draft at that location, and at that point you'd want to try closing various vents off to see if you can pinpoint the problem vent (which may need to be covered up in colder weather).

Having open windows by the roost was possible because I had the coop built and positioned so that the most solid wall faces into the predominant wind position for my location, and so the other 3 walls can have a lot of open ventilation at different heights with relatively few issues.
Okay, great! Thank you! I have vents by the floor along all the walls and at the peaks. It wasn’t enough during the summer so I added the second window on the back wall and installed a fan blowing out. I can block the vents by the floor easily, but was concerned about cold air in the winter. Your suggestions are a big help!
I made so many mistakes in building the coop! Ugh! Just want to keep my girls happy and healthy. Thanks again! 😊♥️
 

rosemarythyme

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I can block the vents by the floor easily, but was concerned about cold air in the winter.
Oh I did forget to mention, for winter especially you do want some higher vents open for sure, as ammonia laden warm air needs to rise to escape the coop. Of course "up high" varies from coop to coop, but just wanted to make sure to clarify so you didn't just leave floor vents open while blocking off everything up top.
 

3KillerBs

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Okay, great! Thank you! I have vents by the floor along all the walls and at the peaks. It wasn’t enough during the summer so I added the second window on the back wall and installed a fan blowing out. I can block the vents by the floor easily, but was concerned about cold air in the winter. Your suggestions are a big help!
I made so many mistakes in building the coop! Ugh! Just want to keep my girls happy and healthy. Thanks again! 😊♥️

At the top where you have the little holes is where you need to open up more venting -- the entire gable triangle, if possible (you may need to extend the roof or make an awning to keep rain from getting in.

If the 30's is the lowest your temperatures get, you could actually replace the entire leeward wall with wire and have an open air coop -- as long as the roost area is sheltered.

You won't need to put plastic on your run either -- not unless the wind absolutely howls through it. Just add a few wind blocks down at chicken level so that they can get out of the wind when they want to.

This is my winterization from last year: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/winterizing-coop-and-pen-nc-sandhills-version.1431885/
 

JennAndHens

Chirping
May 4, 2021
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more draft is better. chickens will adapt...if it is too cold they'll go to the floor. in my opinion, you have too little air draft
Do you mean ventilation? Because I agree that I could use more ventilation if the windows are closed. I added a big window to the back of the coop (not in the photo) that’s about 3’x2.5’. Either the windows both open and the other vents, it is quite a bit of ventilation.
At the top where you have the little holes is where you need to open up more venting -- the entire gable triangle, if possible (you may need to extend the roof or make an awning to keep rain from getting in.

If the 30's is the lowest your temperatures get, you could actually replace the entire leeward wall with wire and have an open air coop -- as long as the roost area is sheltered.

You won't need to put plastic on your run either -- not unless the wind absolutely howls through it. Just add a few wind blocks down at chicken level so that they can get out of the wind when they want to.

This is my winterization from last year: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/winterizing-coop-and-pen-nc-sandhills-version.1431885/
Yes, that’s what I was thinking - that I need more ventilation at the peaks. I’ll do that, for sure.
we live on the top of a hill and the wind rips through, so I do have the tarps for driving rain and sun shade.
Thanks again, everyone!
 

3KillerBs

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Do you mean ventilation? Because I agree that I could use more ventilation if the windows are closed. I added a big window to the back of the coop (not in the photo) that’s about 3’x2.5’. Either the windows both open and the other vents, it is quite a bit of ventilation.

Yes, that’s what I was thinking - that I need more ventilation at the peaks. I’ll do that, for sure.
we live on the top of a hill and the wind rips through, so I do have the tarps for driving rain and sun shade.
Thanks again, everyone!

For long-term protection you might consider planting some of whatever kind of vigorous landscape shrubbery grows well in your area outside the upwind side of the run.
 

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