Detailed Venting in cold weather question


The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
15 Years
Jul 26, 2008
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
OK, I am clear on

1. well insulated coop with lots of vents

2. needs lots of vents to reduce humidity to reduce frostbite

Got that.....

Now to my questions...

I have an 8x8 coop, and I had just the roof and floor insulated, and this summer I am going (hopefully) insulate all of the walls and put on exterior nestboxes. (The floor insulation all fell out, don't think I can fix that, so maybe the floor should no longer be considered as insulated).

My 8x8 coop opens onto a 8x16 area that I call "the shed" since it is dirt floor and no insulation anywhere. The coop and shed are connected with a human size door that I have set up like a dutch door so that with only the bottom open there is less draft.

For venting in the coop there are two windows that are both screened over sliding windows, on opposite walls, but I can really only crack them open in the winter, or crack only the north one, with the south one totally closed since the wind comes up from the south.

There is also a horizontal vent up high on the wall that the coop shares with the shed, and that one can always be open.

Now I know that that *totally* goes against how much venting you are supposed to have per chicken, but it gets way too cold and drafty if I open the windows any wider.

There is of course lots more venting simply with the always at least bottom of it open door from the coop to the shed.

The shed has solid walls on the bottom 2 feet, then about 2 feet of ripple plastic covered wire (so some air comes around the sides of the plastic and then through the wire and into the shed), and then almost a foot of uncovered wire. Also, all of the eave space, you know, where the roof trusses hit the horizontal wall is totally open.

I have found that the open eave space is the WORST idea! The cold air just rushes right in and is horrid. If I block those eave openings, but keep the open wire space open, then the shed is much more comfortable.

This has led me to believe that vents at the very top of the walls is horrid horrid horrid, but several posters have said, that even in colder climates you need the vents at the top to make sure that the air completely clears out.


I am thinking that this summer while I totally fix up all my chicken area, that I will totally block those eave holes, completely insulate the coop, and maybe increase the size of the coop vent that opens into the shed.

Do you'll think that is a good idea? Or do you think that I need to keep some of those eave holes open? Thoughts???

Not that this is a venting issue, but besides putting on the exterior nest boxes, I am also going to try to improve my fences and replace my netting over the top of my runs with wire, as well as work on the wall edges/foundation of my coop and shed.

And since I am asking questions................ I still do not have a favorite way to water in the winter. The water stays in the shed in the winter, and we can get to -10 for a full week. I have never tried the water nipple things that so many seem to like, but I can't imagine them working here without some impressive engineering, and I am NOT good at any handyman stuff. Also, my power goes out every so often, never for more than 2 days, but that would be long enough to burst pipes.
I don't have a lot of ventilation open in the winter. I have way more than most coops open in the summer. This is because we have dry arctic air in the winter and hot, humid gulf air in the summer. Ah, the best of both worlds!

In the winter, I don't want to go into the coop in the winter and have it feel as humid as a green house. I also want them to have fresh, not stale air. We get a lot of dry arctic air in the winter and my coop is never crowded, so this is easy to accomplish with very little ventilation, in my particular coop. It usually doesn't get any colder than -20. Sometimes places with milder winter weather need more ventilation, if the outside air is more humid. Plus, having chickens packed in more densely increases the percentage of moisture in the air. So, sometimes you just need to look at your own individual situation.

I don't like the chickens to roost in a drafty area in the winter. So, I don't like openings around the roost or air moving between two openings in the coop, that is moving through the roost area. I like the chickens to have at least part of the floor area that they can move to during the day, that is not drafty. Look at all the openings in the coop. Imagine a string going between any two of those openings. Don't have your roosts in an area where those strings cross. Or, close up any of the openings that you need to, to not have those strings cross the roosts. The sheltered area on the floor works the same way. An alternative, is to add a little shelter around the roost or on the floor, that blocks drafts and keeps a little body heat in. That can work for a really old building that is super drafty.

In the summer, you need to deal with excess heat in the coop. That's when mine is wide open. In hot weather, a draft is just a nice breeze. The sun beating down on a coop roof and more humidity in the air can make the coop an uncomfortable place to be. I try to have enough ventilation so that the coop isn't much hotter than the outside air. I also want the coop to cool off as the outside air cools. I don't want to lock chickens up in a hot coop that takes many hours to cool off. That just adds to the number of hours they have heat stress in a day. Now, you might not have to worry as much about that up there.

I hope some of this helps you as you assess your coop and try to decide what you want to do.
Pretty much ditto what WoodlandWoman mentioned.

I make sure that there is no drafts on the birds in the Winter. My coop has two pop doors that are open year round but they are well protected from winds. I have a few vents up high also always open but they are downwind of weather directions. All my vents also have flap boards that can be closed off during blizzards or strong storms.

I would keep your window closed during the winter and add boards or some type of flaps to your upper vents to reduce their size or have the ability to adjust the opening size. Any small cracks can pull blowing snow into the coop and pile up a few feet! During the warm months, I open vent flaps and remove big panels under a roofed area to provide plenty of ventilation and air movement. Hope this Helps!

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Thanks so much to both of you!

That makes me feel much better about closing up all of those holes in the eaves.

And I will also try to make the hole/vent between the coop and shed lots bigger.

And heat is NEVER an issue (unless you have a very well insulated house with windows that catch all of the sunlight) because we get super excited if the temps hit the mid 60's.

I even have oodles of problems getting my greenhouse to hold enough heat. If there is even the smallest hole around the doors or around the base of the walls then cold air whistles in. I didn't manage to get a SINGLE red tomato in my green house last summer, I did get a big box of green ones that I then ripened on the windowsills in my house.

And yes I am whining. Whiny me...... Totally fantasizing of moving to Bermuda. Baking in heat....ahhhhh!

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