Coop details

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by airen, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. airen

    airen Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 21, 2012
    Hey All!!

    So I'm finalizing my coop ideas(you guys are awesome and generous...) but I'm wondering about what is "extreme" weather?

    I grew up in Fla, so this whole white winter thing is still new for me. Below 70 is freezing as far as many of my neighbors were concerned...

    The area I live in now can get to be above 100 in summer, but very white in winter... and it's WINDY.

    Is there anything in particular ya'll can think of I need to incorporate to keep my chickies happy?

    I want an open plan, with one wall as a wind guard. I was thinking or using a "hurricane shutter" type of panel for winter.

    How does one ventilate without freezing the girls?
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    In your climate I'd say heat will be more of a consideration than cold. Chickens tolerate temps well below freezing just fine but are actually in danger above 100 degrees.

    Ventilation is enough opening at the high point of the coop to allow humidity and ammonia to escape, particularly in cold weather. Probably you need at least 1 sq ft of vent opening per chicken. Frostbitten combs and feet are more likely a result of humidity than cold in itself. There doesn't have to be another opening lower down for ventilation. What would be a cold, undesirable wind blowing on them in winter will be a welcome breeze in summer. In your climate i would build with hot weather in mind, and maybe have a way to block wind from the roost area in winter. (Not sure what you mean by open design.)

    There is a coop design on here somewhere that I wish I had a link to, or could remember the name of. The pic I remember has plenty of snow on the ground but it is a largely open front design. It's not a cheap design to build, but well worth reading about even if you are on a tight budget, for the concepts.

    I have a somewhat oversized 4 sided coop with roof slanting from one side to the other. The soffit areas all the way around are open air, widths ranging from 6" up, top to bottom. Also, half of one side is open air, and about 1/3 of the opposite side is, as well; these are covered in hardware cloth (wire mesh.) We get above 100 every summer, and lows in the teens for usually several nights each winter. In winter I put up plastic on one side only, to block the wind from the roost area. A three sided coop would also have been sensible for this climate.

    Here is our classic writeup on coop ventilation. Keep in mind this was written by someone who lives in Canada.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don’t know where you are now so I don’t know how cold it gets in your winter. The way I read your post, you are not in Florida anymore.

    I pretty much agree with everything Flockwatcher said. Chickens do handle cold much better than heat, but mine don’t like a cold wind blowing directly on them. My winter overnight lows are sometimes below zero Fahrenheit and my summer temperatures are sometimes above 100 F. I do not provide any heat in the winter.

    I have a four-sided coop with the tops of each wall open and covered with hardware cloth. That stays open permanently, but my roosts are positioned where the chickens are below those openings so wind does not hit them directly. In the summer, I open a window just below roost height and have a hardware cloth covered opening at ground level I open up. It’s really hard to get too much ventilation in the summer when your temperatures are that warm.

    You might be able to get away with a three-sided coop with the fourth wall wire for really good ventilation, especially if your wind is from a pretty standard direction. Just put your roost in the protected area.

    The other feature I’d suggest is try to provide as much space in the coop as you can stand. My chickens don’t usually like snow when they first see it, though after a few days they get used to it and will go out in it. They don’t like a cold wind at all. It sounds like yours may spend a lot of time in the coop in the winter. The more room they have the less likely they will get bored and have behavioral problems. Behavioral problems can be anything from fighting or feather picking all the way to cannibalism. I also find the more room I give them, the less work I have to do. They poop a lot, for example. I firmly believe a coop should be cleaned out as seldom as possible.
  4. MontanaMomma

    MontanaMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2008
    I very much agree with Ridge. I live in Montana where we can get weeks of -20 weather. We built our first coop too small for hens to be in there all day. After a miserable, poopy, bloody winter here are some things we learned the hard way.
    -When you figure your living space don't use cubic feet. Think floor space. Then make your peak at least 4 feet tall for ventilation, roosting, cleaning and heat lamp if needed. Chickens don't care about the space they can't poop on.
    -Your coop should at least be 4 inches off the ground to prevent condensation on the coop floor.
    -Your roof should be high enough to add a heat lamp if needed.
    -Nest boxes should be completely inside the coop so they aren't colder than the rest of the coop and impossible to heat.
    -VENTILATION!!!!! When you think you have enough ventilation, add some more, then a little bit more.
    -Round roosts are overrated. Use a 2x4. It helps keep their tootsies warm.
    -If your chickens ain't happy, nobody's happy.
    Our too small coop is now a covered run, which is lovely during the snow and mud seasons. Now we have an insulated coop that is plenty big with litter boxes under the 2x4 roost, nest boxes tucked in the corner, big feeders a 6' peak and happy hens that haven't seen a fight since the move.
  5. jamband

    jamband Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2011
    A simple hoop coop could be great for you. A wall can be totally open all year and you open the back wall and roll up the side walls in warm weather. Simple and cheap to build too.
  6. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Check out the link below. The front is open year round. In the warmer months, the other windows are opened up. I get temps here from the high 90s, to the low teens.

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