Coop Winterization- Ventilation and Water Heater Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mrskenmore, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi All,

    I have started to think about my first winter with chickens and what winterizing the coop will entail.. specifically ventilation and keeping the hanging water from freezing. See attached photos of coop. Both of the front window (south facing) and side window (east facing) will be closed up with acrylic panels for the winter. The east window is right next to their roost, so I don't want any drafts. I was thinking about doing a vent down low in the east side for air intake and then another vent up high on the west side of the coop for air out take into their run. I also have a pop door that will be open during daylight hours for the girls to go back and forth between the coop and run. I was thinking of putting plastic strips to minimize drafts between the run and coop. The run itself will have plastic shower curtains once it dips below freezing here in Long Island. Thanks for any suggestion and help- I want to do the ventilation right so the girls are happy and healthy. We will not be heating the coop and the food and water will remain in the run below with a heater to prevent freezing. (any suggestions on the best way to keep water from freezing are welcome as well!!)

    Thanks!
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  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You don't need an opening to let the air in; the humidified, ammoniated air will echange with the outside air just fine at a high, single vent. There is an excellent article on ventilation linked in my sig line.

    A water heater of some sort is about the only alternative to breaking ice out of waterers and carrying water. You can buy a dog water heater for not too much money. You can also make one. Here is just one thread, of many on here:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/839397/anyone-use-a-cookie-tin-water-heater/0_20
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    That’s a fairly small coop which limits your options a bit but you still have plenty of options. I think the way I’d approach it with that coop is to open the area under the overhang on the high side and cover it with hardware cloth to keep critters out. It would work to do that on the part in the run but I’d still cover it with hardware cloth for that extra bit of predator protection. Just make the openings over their heads when they are on the roost.

    If you want to get fancy you could add a roof vent or even a cupola as long as you attach them well enough a raccoon can’t rip them off. In any case, there is nothing wrong with year around ventilation over their heads. Just provide a lot more lower down in hot weather.

    In the winter I use black rubber tubs for water. I get them at Tractor Supply. When they freeze I just turn them over and stomp on them or bash them on the ground to get the ice out. If you can set them in the sunlight and the sun shines they will stay thawed well into the lower 20’s if not lower. Yeah, I have to carry water but for me once in the morning and again in the afternoon usually works out well. I’m a bit further south of you though.
     
  4. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone,

    I will make it predator proof- I don't want anyone messing with my girls. I like the idea of doing the ventilation on the front.. My question is since I already have the window there, could I just lower the acrylic panel and have the top open a few inches (it has hardware cloth on it already from the summer) to let the air out? Now that I understand that I don't need to also have air coming in for the humidified air to leave. Does it matter that it is facing south? It is the opposite side of their roost which faces north.

    Thoughts?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    That would probably work if it is on the opposite side of the roost, though I really like some opening over their heads. One of the bad things is ammonia gas which comes from their poop decomposing. That’s hard on their respiratory system. Ammonia gas is lighter than air. If you have an opening over their heads it will just go away, even a small opening. If it is airtight over their heads ammonia can build up.
     
  6. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    understood, I could probably do something small in the north wall over their heads so it vents out. I just get confused with venting and drafts. I could also prop open that window on the east wall an inch. Would that work, or would a secure north wall opening be best? I have three hens BTW. So their roost is about 36" wide.
     
  7. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have almost the same design. The main thing I did was add plywood cutouts into all the bottom hardware cloth sections for the winter. There is one nail hammered halfway into the frame on each side of the plywood panels, and the nails can be bent out to slide the plywood in/out. I also went around and duct taped the edges of the panels so that cold air doesn't blow through the section under the roost where their food and water is.

    I also put a plastic flap over the roost entrance at the top of the ramp to minimize cold air from blowing in while they are sleeping. And on the inside, I put cardboard cutouts over the window vents in mine as insulation (maybe overkill). Then I realized that the humidity was too high without any vents, so I cracked the roof open a little at the top. My roof looks slightly different than yours though, because it has like a slanted tin roof over the flat top coop, so I could open the top slightly, and still not let rain in. I figure venting from the top is the best way to go, because any windows on the side will allow cold wind to blow directly on them.

    That's what I did. Hope that helps give you some ideas or options. It's my first winter with chickens, but the coops second year, so the lower panels were already setup on mine.
     
  8. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is all very helpful- thanks everyone! Toddrick- any photos of your coop? I love that you did the plastic flap over the coop entrance too.
     
  9. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    Watering
    For along time I used heater tape around a bucket with chicken watering nipples. It worked excellent. However me being me I neglected to change the water as often as I should. This is what it looks like and it thermostatically controlled to come on at just above the freezing temperature. You would have to wrap it to suit your particular application if it is viable for your set up. It is available at Home Depot in Canada.

    [​IMG]


    Last year I switched to white rubber contains the wife found somewhere. The freeze solid every night but the ice just pops out of them in the morning and I replenish them with fresh warm water. They have black ones at the feed store that are similar but large than mine.

    The chickens congregate around them like people having their morning coffee. The only draw back is my yard is pepper with small ice bergs the size of the buckets.

    April looks after that however..
     
  10. mrskenmore

    mrskenmore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah!! Now the wheels in my head are turning... this opens up a lot of possibilities for my hanging water heater.. we just installed electric in the underside of the coop so this may work..

    Thanks!
     

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