Coop inside my barn - ventilation question


In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 6, 2009
Syracuse, NY
My chicks turned 3 wks old today :) I'm finishing up their coop and wanted to ask for opinions about how I should ventilate it. The coop is inside my barn which I've just about finished restoring. New metal roof, new foundation, gallons and gallons of paint, repaired windows and doors, a restored wooden silo, etc.. After all this work, I decided I needed to use it for something other than storing the lawnmower and such. The barn itself is 36x60. I'm building the coop in the corner closest to my house so I will be able to see the run from my kitchen and keep an eye on things. The coop is 8x12. Because it is in the corner, I only needed to build two walls. The ceiling is the underside of the hayloft and is about 8.5 feet high. I used a wooden storm door that use to be on the house. I can have either the screen or window in the door depending on the weather. The door is inside the barn going into the coop, not going to the outdoors. I have one fixed window which is about 36x36 and provides alot of light into the coop. I put in a 12x18 pop door. Now for my ventilation. The walls and window in the coop are air tight. There are no areas for drafts to get into the coop and bother the chickens. For ventilation in warmer weather, I can put the screen in the door and air from inside the barn can exchange with the air in the coop. Also, at the top of the walls, I am planning on putting hardware cloth between the joists that support the floor above and make my ceiling. So, what I need feedback on: Will ventilating the coop into the large barn area be sufficient or do I need direct ventilation to the outdoors? The large barn area gets plenty of ventilation to the outside thru the gable vents, gaps in the old siding, etc.. I'd like to avoid cutting any additional holes in the coop walls to the outside if possible. What do you think? Thanks!
I put my vents in the bottom of the walls in my coops.About 16-18 inches up from the floor.I use the air intake covers like in my house,and screw them on the outside of the coop.
I think your Ok with venting them into the barn It sounds big enough to have good air flow.
If you do not have a whole lot of chickens, this should work fine (you might wind up needing to create larger vents on the interior walls, or if you really have few chickens in that size area you might be ok with the current setup).

If you are planning on a lot of chickens, though, you may find yourself ending up needing to put a vent through to the outdoors as well.

In general, venting into a large building that the coop is attached to or contained in is a GOOD system, especially for cold winter areas (where are you?). Its main two limitations are that the more ventilation you have into the building, the more DUST goes into the building as well (which can be an issue if there is machinery or Valuable Stuff stored there), and if the building is not excessively well ventilated itself (yours does not sound to be all *that* free-airflow-y) then if you have a whole lotta chickens it is possible to sort of saturate the indoor air so that it does not provide sufficient really "fresh" air.

I guess in summary I'd say that you may find yourself cutting more *indoor* ventilation, and if you have a lot of chickens in that coop you may find yourself putting in an opening to the outdoors as well... but as long as you don't mind maybe having to do those things in a hurry under non-ideal circumstances, if you would rather wait and see, then sure, wait and see

Good luck, have fun,

Myself, I'd have probably started out with just hardware cloth around most of the indoor coop section, not really any solid walls except the barn walls on the two sides... We once had that set up in an old barn, and we live in northern Ohio, quite cold winters etc. It was cold, but not drafty, and the chickens were GREAT there.

The air in that corner of the barn was mostly still, so it wasn't any problem. If you find the corner the hen-house is at is drafty, you could put up some plywood, but honestly, if the barn is decent, and it sounds like after all your work it is, they'll be fine!

Just my opinion.
You'll have to be the judge of how much ventilation you get in the old barn. I don't know the extent of the gaps in the siding or the size of your gable vents. Predominant wind direction could play a part, but often "weather" does not come from the predominant direction or, on the realy cold days where you need adequate ventilation, you may not have any wind at all. I would not count on wind. If you do wind up with an outside vent, I would put it on the predominantly downwind side though.

If you determine that the ventilation in the old barn is adequate, I'd add more air exchange area than I think you are planning. I don't know how deep your joists are, but I think you are planning on having only the area of the depth of the joists and the width between them on one side of the coop. I'd put the top plate on your interior wall at least one foot below the bottom of your joists (more is better) on both interior walls and fill in all that space with hardware cloth. The barn should stop the worst of the wind so you should not get much of a draft in there anyway, but I'd keep the roosts low enough so that they are out of possible drafts and make the hardware cloth opening as large as I reasonably could.

If it really is not drafty when the wind is howling outside, you could try PortageGirl's suggestion, but I like to play it safer and guarantee that they are not in drafts.

I don't know if it will help, but I'll show you what I did with 3 exterior walls and 1 interior walls. My winters are warmer than yours but I am not worried about having too little or too much ventilation.

Thanks for the replies everyone :) It will be very easy for me to add additional ventilation to the inside of the barn. I'll build that into the coop now and make it so that I can open/close it off should the weather get severe here in upstate NY. Fortunately, dust isn't a problem as the barn is mostly used for lumber and equipment storage. My great aunt use to have a seperate chicken house but it fell in such disrepair that I had to tear the remains down. Her mother actually had an addition on the south end of the barn that she kept 100 hens in. I found her "eggs for sale" sign
The addition is no longer there as the farm went in disrepair when it was no longer being operated. I'm getting everything restored that remains and wanted to make it feel more like a that's why I'm starting out with chickens!

Here's my barn. If only you could have seen what it looked like before!
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BEAUTIFUL old barn!! Honestly, unless you expect a sharp wind through it somehow, just close em up for their protection from owls that sometimes winter in such barns, and cats or dogs that might get in. Looks like you have room for goats too!!
hehe,,, yep, that's me leading you astray!
Yup, just make sure there are no drafty air gaps in the part where the chickens are, and you should easily be able to arrange enough open windows in the rest of the barn to be in good shape

Good luck, have fun,


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