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Coop ventilation in sunny California

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lngrid, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. lngrid

    lngrid Songster

    I live in Sacramento. The record high temperature here is 115 and the record low is 18. Someday soon, when it's legal, I'm gonna get 6 standard girls of a docile breed like dorkings. They would have a coop, run, and I would let them out for supervised wandering in a gated, fenced 50' X 100' backyard.

    So I was wondering: do I need solid coop walls at all? If I use hardware cloth for the run fence and run a hot wire at the top to keep out racoons and cats, could I just use a solid roof with deep eaves over the coop and part of the run and make the sides of hardware cloth? I know part of the walls would have to be solid enough to support roosts and a droppings board, but could I just leave the rest open to the fresh air?

    How low does the temp have to go for the chickens to risk frostbite?

    I'd be grateful for an answer, even though I can't keep chickens now. It's only a matter of time until we Sacramentans can. [​IMG]

  2. evonne

    evonne Songster

    Oct 5, 2009
    Las Vegas
    it's great that you're planning ahead... you could even start working on builing before hand this way...
    i have no real answers.. but right now my birds don't have any real walls to their coop.. in fact they don't really have a coop.. lol.. they have a run with nothing over top so they fly out into the yard when they want.. and they roost on the top of a little tykes 3 sided slide.. i have some old doors propped up against said slide so they can go under them and into the bottom area of the slide to get out of the weather when it's windy...

    i'll be keeping an eye on this thread too though.. i got my birds in may/june/july, so haven't wintered them yet... i don't think we get quite as cold as you do.. but there's windchill factor too...
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I wish I lived in an area where I could have an open air coop!! But honestly, even if I did, I would want a coop w/three sides at least. Even with an overhanging roof, whipping winds and rains can soak whatever is underneath. Temp-wise I'm sure you'd be safe, and you can always use tarps around certain sides if it briefly dips down low...but I just like having something more substantial. I do think, even with a hot-wire, you would need to cover your run, since you couldn't lock your girls in at night per say. Plus, if the electricty failed or a wire got grounded...well, your chickens would become sitting ducks.
  4. lngrid

    lngrid Songster

    Thanks, Teach. You're making sense. I might put up 3 walls with windows and leave the south side open with a door in it. I'm still tossing ideas around since there's no great rush.

    I'm not even decided about hot-wire because of trees. One set of neighbors let weed trees grow in the fence line. The other fence line has a 40' or so tall tree in it and the back yard proper has a huge, 60-year-old sycamore. I worry about what could happen if one of these blew over on a run with a hot-wire.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    As long as you have, or can knock together for cold weather, some sort of shelter around the roost itself to keep breezes off them and potentially hold some of their body heat near them (see below), you will be fine with an open air type coop.

    Reasonably cold hardy breeds will not get frostbite at 18 F unless the air is real humid (which is probably not going to be the case in an open air coop in Sacramento?) *but* I would not guarantee that some of the very large combed breeds' roos might not get a touch of frostbite in some circumstances at those temps, so it would not hurt to have some structure for them to go into that would stay a bit warmer than the outdoor air, for real cold snaps.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I agree with Pat. I live in Nothe Florida. We do get some temps once in awhile below 20 degrees at night in the winter. I have large vents with doors to cover them on really cold nights.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. The Sheriff

    The Sheriff Crowing

    Jun 17, 2009
    Northern CA
    I live in Citrus Heights and I have my coop closed up in the winter with ventilation bottom and top. I can't stand the thought of them being cold. I might install one of those flat panel coop heaters soon.

    You must be in the county or city limits. Our property in CH is zoned for hobby farming so that overrules the county. Is there some action pending to approve chickens? If so, the coop builders on Craigslist better gear up!

    Good luck and great forward thinking!


  8. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    My coop https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=250508&p=2

    essentally 3 fence sides and 1 tin side, but then I put tin sideways along the bottom of the other 2 sides instead of hardware cloth. Still, it's essentially open air.
    My chickens love it!

    The type of electricity put out by electric fence chargers wouldn't really hurt if something blew over on it. More'n likely it would just break the hot wires and ground your fence out. I'm a huuuuuuge fan of electric fencing, and mine has been busted a few times (darn neighbor's dog) laying out all night in the grass/leaves/whatnot without hurting a thing.

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