Chicken coops for dummies book and ventilation...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gale65, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm trying to convince dh that we need lots of winter ventilation in the coop. He is worried about snow getting in and drafts since we routinely get below freezing temps in the winter and overnight temps are often below zero. The page on ventilation didn't really help ease his concerns (this line: most standard-sized breeds are fine down to freezing and significantly below, as long as the air is dry and relatively still and they have an appropriate-width roost and plenty of food made him comment that it is not "down to freezing" here but below that in the winter, on an almost constant basis. The "and significantly below" part didn't help.) So I pulled out my trusty Chicken Coops for Dummies book and it says this: Any method of venting requires not just a way for stale air to escape, but also a way for fresh air to enter the structure. Normally, your coop's door and/or window will be opened often enough throughout the course of a day to allow this to happen on its own.

    It does go on to talk about the different types of vents but doesn't give any indication about how many square feet are required or that it's even an issue to worry about. It's really not mentioned a whole lot in the book at all as far as importance. Just very briefly with no guide to how much.

    Naturally, I have no plans to show him that or he'll think there's no need for any high-up vents... but it's frustrating because now he is going to go ask the same person who told him to start layer feed at 6 weeks of age. [​IMG]
  2. Here you are. This should help. Tell him (basically) that all that heat and ammonia coming off them and the poop that is decomposing needs to be vented. Our coop is 150 sq.ft. and we have 15 square feet of always on ventilation. In addition we are going to install vents close to the floor that are made for foundations and will automatically close at about 40 degrees. they are cheaper than you might think and at lowes or HD. I would say that 1 square foot of always on vent per chicken works well. A plastic roof vent at lowes is about 6 dollars and we have 2...that is one sq/ft each right there. then I would go with several 4x12 vents (in heating and cooling area of lowes) mounted in the wall as HIGH as you can get them. You can even buffer them if you want by cutting a 4 inch piece of 2x4 for standoffs and mount near each edge of vent, then run a piece of 2x4 across these so the face of the 2x4 blocks any wind that might blow straight thru but is away from the vent enough that it allows air movement. Make sure the roost board is at least 14 inches below the bottom of the vents. If it is super cold there....use a 2x4 roost bar turned wide side up. this forces them to cover their feet with their body when they roost and keeps them plenty warm even in extended 0 weather
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  3. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, but that is the article I was talking about. I printed it out and he read it but he is still concerned about them getting too much cool air. We looked at closeable register covers at Home Depot today and the amount we'd need are too expensive. Going by your numbers-our coop will be 50 square feet so does that mean 50 square inches is enough for winter (there's a ton more for summer via 5 windows)? I told him 1 sq ft per chicken and he thinks 12 sq feet (which comes out to over 1700 sq inches) on a coop this size is way too much.

    eta: sorry. Your original reply said you have 150 sq inches but I see you changed it. 15 square feet is over 2100 square inches.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  4. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wanted to add that dh said no plastic vents. He said that winter weather will eventually make them weak and predators could break them even when they're brand new.
  5. Our coop is 150 sq.ft. and we have 15 square feet of always on ventilation.
    I would say that 1 square foot of always on vent per chicken works well.
  6. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    See that's the problem. 12 sq feet would be a lot and it would be nearly impossible to put that much at the top edge of our coop. If I made it 6" wide (which is about the amt of space we'd have but not all the way around) it would have to equal 24 feet long. Our perimeter is only 30 feet total...

    I've looked in every chicken book and magazine I have (and I have a lot) and not a single one mentions ventilation at all and all of the coops they show don't even seem to have anything beyond windows or very little. I get the importance but practically, I can't put 12 sq feet, and I can't convince my builder (dh) that it needs that much. And I can't find anything other than BYC that even delves into the subject of ventilation to this degree.

    And the other frustration is that a book all about building coops, something dh might actually "listen" to, barely even touches on the subject of ventilation. And I need advice for our zone, which typically can get to 15 or 20 below zero in the winter and has long stretches where the temps never get above freezing even during the warmest part of the day.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  7. Quote:I went with the metal 4x12 (i think) and not the closable ones. I buffered the 4 closest to the roost bar. We live at the base of the smokies and can get some cold weather some winters. I have never had a problem at all. Chickens are very cold hardy as long as there is not a draft blowing directly across them. On the other hand they are extremely sensitive to the moisture on the walls and the high amount of stink that will build up from from a cold moist environment. Trust me I was just like him when I started and have seen what happens to a coop with little ventilation. A friend lost 4 in one night. Not a single one had frost was respitory caused by the cold and damp from lack of vents.
  8. Quote:

    I could get you more...if you need. Including studies from several universities that have various animal programs. I do see how getting that much ventilation in your space might be difficult, but I would def take a good look at it. What about at least one covered roof vent (they have the metal ones also) and then 6x14 metal side vents on at least 2 sides (south and east I think have less wind) I know that may not meet the formula, but at least its a good start
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Coops in areas that have more extreme winter weather don't need as much ventilation as coops in areas that have milder winter weather, while still freezing.

    When I first started reading posts on this forum, I was surprised to see more of the posts about frostbite coming from areas with warmer winters than we have. Dealing with excessive winter moisture in the coop seems to be more of an issue in those coops.

    Here, we get really dry air coming down from the arctic. When you're outside in the colder weather, it's really dry air. There's not much moisture in air that's -20 degrees. In the warmer, barely freezing weather, the air is much more moist. So when the weather is very cold and dry, you need less air exchange to drop the humidity levels in the coop. You are bringing extremely dry air into the coop, instead of moister air into the coop. The drier outside air is then replacing the much moister inside air and dropping the indoor humidity levels.

    We have a lot of windows and a lot of summer ventilation. If we didn't, the coop would be much hotter than the outside air temperature during the day and take all night to cool down. I like the coop to cool down as fast as possible at night, because this lessens the heat stress on the chickens. We have bad summers because we get a lot of hot humid air pushing up from the south in the summer.

    As the weather turns colder, we gradually start closing up the windows on the coop. It's no more complicated than opening or closing windows on your house as the weather changes. When winter is in full swing, we have very little ventilation open, compared to the rest of the year. The coop doesn't feel stuffy or humid.

    If we lived in a place with winters that were freezing, but not as cold, we'd have more ventilation open. If we only allowed 1 square foot of space for the chickens in the coop, instead of 5 square feet, we'd need more ventilation, too. Especially if the chickens had very little headroom, instead of the coop being a walk in.

    It's important in extremely cold weather to make sure your ventilation isn't creating a draft on your chickens when they're roosting. It's also important that they have areas on the floor of the coop where they aren't in a draft, either.

    The best way to deal with ventilation is to have plenty of it and be able to have various vents opened or closed, as needed. Your coop doesn't need to be warm or above freezing, as long as the chickens aren't roosting or living in a draft. It shouldn't smell bad or feel humid or stuffy in there, in the middle of winter.
  10. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West

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