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BRRRR! Ventilation v. Insulation

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by telepiste, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. telepiste

    telepiste Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Howdy,

    It's getting cold at night--down to 40 or 45 deg. at night here in the front range, and my 18 week old girls are hunkering down on their roost at night. I'm wondering what I need to do to keep them comfortable as fall (and winter) sets in.

    I have three girls in an A-frame coop. The top of the A has a 9" x 9" cutout for ventilation on each side, but unfortunately, the girls roost is close to the window. Seems like a cold place to sleep, so I have a couple of questions:

    1. what is "too cold" for a barred rock and a couple leghorns?

    2. do i need to cover at least part of the ventilation windows?

    3. do i need to insulate the roof of the a-frame? Right now it's just 1/4" thick OSB board

    4. should I heat the coop with an outdoor heat lamp?

    any advice is appreciated!
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    78
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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:That's fine, that is what chickens are *supposed* to do, it does not mean they are getting too cold or anything like that [​IMG]

    1. what is "too cold" for a barred rock and a couple leghorns?

    2. do i need to cover at least part of the ventilation windows?

    It is impossible to say what's too cold without knowing what the coop atmosphere is like. (Which depends partly on ventilation, but also on things like sanitation and climate and leaky waterers and so forth). Chickens can potentially get frostbite not much below freezing if their air is damp and humid, but *normally* with good coop management they are good well towards 0 F and often quite a bit below.

    You may find yourself needing to close the upwind vent on cold breezy days/nights this winter, but be careful with that as your remaining one vent is pretty small. You may get away with it if the enclosed part of the A-frame is pretty large and voluminous, and your chickns aren't in there too much, and you remove the poo from the enclosed portion every day... but, keep an eye on it and you may well want to add *more* (adjustable) ventilation.

    As long as the roost location, does not *force* them to sleep right next to an open vent, they will probably behave appropriately when actual cold weather sets in [​IMG]

    3. do i need to insulate the roof of the a-frame? Right now it's just 1/4" thick OSB board

    Depends -- where do you live? Heat retnetion is not the only concern -- in some climates that thickness of OSB (I assume there is metal or shingles on it also...?) may not be enough to prevent condensation/frost from forming on the inside ceiling, and you really don't want that happening because it nullifies much of your ventilation and makes it hard to keep the coop from being humid and thus frostbitey.

    OTOH in some other climates, you would be ok.

    4. should I heat the coop with an outdoor heat lamp?

    Again, depends wehre you live. It is hard (not impossible, but hard) to winter chickens well in a very small-air-volume coop like that if you are in a way north serious winter climate, and you might find yourself in a situation where you do indeed want to run a lightbulb (NOT honkin' big ol' heat lamp, though, just a small regular bulb like 40-100w, located in a chicken-safe place, which can also be tricky to arrange). OTOH in many locations you will not need this and the additional aggravations and worries of using it would outweigh its marginal benefit.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     

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