Coop is built, quick questions about my setup before winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by davevato, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. davevato

    davevato Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2011
    Midland, MI
    Started reading through this site (great site btw). I was reading about ventilation, litter/odor control, draft etc...

    I live in Michigan so I was getting ready to button it up for winter time.

    Only had chickens since July, and was kind of rushed into it by some "ditch birds". Aunt had a "lost" hen walk out of the ditch after about a month with 9 chicks following her, so we took them.

    Here are my concerns:

    We have about 16 chickens in the coop/yard. We just cleaned it and it only took about 2 days for the house to smell horrible. We have an elevated wood floor, with about 6 inches of straw.

    I was going to insulate and close up the house more but in reading about ventilation I am not sure how to do that properly. From the pictures you can see I have one window closed off, it got cold the other night. I have a IR heat bulb plugged into a thermostat, on at 34 off at 45. I was going to plexiglass the other window so that they would get light during the day.

    The coop is 4'W x 8'L x 4'H, not including another 3 feet for the ceiling. I could build some sort of venting in the ceiling, but do I go electric fan or just normal roof vents. How do I make sure they stay warm in the winter but get good air flow?

    My chickens dont lay any more, not sure if they hate my nesting box, to get into the nesting box I have two small entry holes on ether end inside the coop. They also stopped about the time I switch from the local grain elevators layer mix to TSC layer crumble.

    Sorry for the links, I cant embed pictures yet.


  2. just271

    just271 Out Of The Brooder

    May 17, 2011
    Nice coop.
  3. Rare Feathers Farm

    Rare Feathers Farm Overrun With Chickens

    You have way too many chickens for that small of a coop....I use the deep litter method which I have found works the best for my situation.

    As far as the winter goes--breed selection is key to survival in colder climates--unless you "bubble wrap" them like I have to with some of my rare breeds. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You should choose chickens with pea combs, rose combs, walnut combs, etc (less to frostbite damage)--big, fluffy birds do better in freezing weather than those with tight feathering--although my Sumatras have always done very well, my Orloffs being the best.

    As far as ventilation, you want them to have air movement but not drafts. Their coop should be dry and free of drafts. I have a vented overhang on my coop, windows that open and two huge vents that I can close if it gets really nasty. Honestly, even in the worst weather, I usually leave them open because the chickens' breath can raise the humidity in the coop so much that they end up with frostbite from the condensation.

    As far as laying goes--shorter days & longer nights will impact their laying. Some of my breeds stop laying altogether until spring once it's fall--others lay right through the coldest weather. I would suggest a light with a timer if you'd like to keep egg production up during the winter. They could also be molting--at which time they'll stop laying for a month or until they're done.
  4. CupOJoe42

    CupOJoe42 CT Chicken Whisperer

    Apr 11, 2011
    Ventilation is extremely important as chickens have a high respiration rate, causing them to use up available oxygen quickly while releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide, heat, and moisture. As a result, they are susceptible to respiratory problems. Ventilation holes near the ceiling along the south and north walls give warm, moist air a place to escape. During cold weather you can close the ventilation on the north side, and keep the ventilation on the south side open as long as there are no drafts. In warm weather, cross ventilation keeps chickens cool and removes moisture.

    The rule of thumb for space is that each full-grown chicken should have 4 square feet of confined space and 10 square feet of run. If you have 16 chickens, you should have 64 square feet of coop floor and 160 square feet of run. It sounds to me like your coop is way too small. A 4' x 8' coop should have no more than 8 full size chickens housed in it.

    Any stressful event can cause a lapse in egg laying. This includes a move to a new location, over-crowding, etc.

    Hope this helps!
  5. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    I second Rare Feathers and wanted to add that straw when damp/wet will smell and mold. Pine shavings, deep litter method with DE powder or stall dry will keep the smell away and the bedding dry.
  6. davevato

    davevato Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2011
    Midland, MI
    Wow, thanks for the info everyone! I need to go get some vents from Lowes tonight. I will replace the straw with shavings and get some DE. Hopefully the local elevator has some of that. As for to many chickens, I was looking at getting rid of some/most of the roosters anyway. Maybe that's why my guinea's and new cochins wont go inside.
  7. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2010
    Milan, MI
    Jason, where in Michigan are you from?
  8. davevato

    davevato Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2011
    Midland, MI
    I live by Midland. Milan is down by Ann Arbor right?
  9. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Greetings from West Michigan. Yes, you definetely have too many birds. Let me know if you need some help "taking care of" the extra roosters [​IMG]
  10. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
    1 Too many birds . Should be 3 or 4 square feet per bird.
    2 Ventilation is important, but it should be above their heads so they won't be in a draft. I close the window in winter, but leave the ones way up near the roof open. Perhaps you can add some above your doors near the roof peak.
    3. I would be concerned about safety with the bulb. I use a heat rope under the roosts for extreme cold. Some don't use anything at all.
    4. Your roosts need to be wider like a 2 by 4 with the flat side up. The reason is that round roosts force the birds to hold on all night rather than rest on it and cover their tootsies with their feathered tummies. If they cave to grip on they risk frost bite on their feet.

    Good luck, it looks like you are off to a good start.

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