1. Holmes' Homestead

    Holmes' Homestead Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 14, 2010
    Schuylerville NY
    Has anyone read this book or have any thoughts on it: Fresh-Air Poultry Houses: The Classic Guide to Open-Front Chicken Coops for Healthier Poultry by Prince T. Woods

    I plan on purchasing pullets for the first time and have been looking around for coop plans. The book was originally published a 100 years ago, and is still in reprint. It sounds like an interesting approach and is time-tested. Reviewers on Amazon have positive things to say about it. Any thoughts on the book are much appreciated.
  2. Tropical Chook

    Tropical Chook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    I don't have any knowledge regarding this book, but I do agree with the idea of open fronts and etc. My own coop/run has two walls and a roof, while the rest of it is open. I have no separate coop as such. Mine is basically a large covered run. I have constructed this in the corner of our property which is why it has two wall. I then added a roof because of the heavy rain we get during the monsoon season, and the other two sides are framed and closed in with hardware cloth. I have a few nest boxes inside, although I've building more nest boxes which will be installed in such a way so that I can collect eggs without having to go into the run. Of course there are plenty of perches where my birds can roost, and these are staggered in height so that some of the birds get to feel more important than others by being able to roost higher up.

    I have had this set up for a year now, and so far I have not had a single sick bird - no worm problems - no nothing. I supply food and fresh water, I collect eggs, and I process a few from time to time. Apart from that, it's a 100% hands-off operation and as I've said, I have no need for a first aid box. Of course I've only been at this for a year so I may still end up having to eat my words, but so far so good. I haven't even seen mites, but that could be due to the birds dust bathing in ash from wood fires?

    My set up is also secure so the only predators are not an issue. I do get rats, but they get trapped and destroyed. I also lose an egg every once in a while to a snake, but I can afford donating the odd egg, given that the snake is more than likely also eating other things as well.

    Who knows, perhaps having an open plan run/coop has played a role? With all that said, I don't experience cold winters over here in Thailand. The coldest it gets is about 18 Celsius, and that doesn't happen very often either. Strangely enough, when it does drop down to that, these Thai games I have actually shiver but I leave them be, or else I feel I would be doing more harm than good.

    I would say you should read the book, and then decide how you wish to proceed.
    1 person likes this.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Yup, people rediscover this book every year around this season [​IMG]... use the "search" utility and you will find several looong threads about it.

    Readers Digest version according to me: Fine for larger coops if correct design is observed (do not freelance unless you have *extensive* experience with open-air type livestock buildings), but not practical for smaller (like, most backyarders' size) coops in cold-winter areas unless you have very cold-tolerant breeds.

    Good luck, have fun,

    1 person likes this.
  4. chics in the sun

    chics in the sun Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2010
    I based my design in part on some excerpts that someone posted from that book on one of the threads here. Very interesting stuff. I am in Florida, though. Mine is basically a giant bird cage with a partially enclosed roost area. They seem to love it, and so far so good. I would think you would need some type of sheltered area from the wind, and one small enough that their body heat can be harnessed to keep themselves warm, at least in the winter months up there.
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    You live in NY! They will be cold.

    Give them some real shelter IMO. My Buff Orpingtons look cold when it is in the 30's here in the Pac NW.

    I would only consider an open-air coop in Texas or somewhere hot, personally.
  6. Tdub4chiks

    Tdub4chiks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2010
    Constantia, NY
    Quote:X2. Definately need a coop/enclosure in NY.

    But, they may enjoy it during the heat of the summer.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
  7. Ahab

    Ahab Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2010
    Many of the book's examples were in coldish places like Connecticut, Massachusetts, the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, and poultry farms in Michigan and Quebec. The book shows building plans down to (if I remember correctly) 6 x 10 feet, with the roosts on the short wall, 10 feet back from the open (for which read tightly screened) front. Most of the houses were bigger, however: in the 12 x 24 and 10 x 16-foot range. The key feature in all designs was an open (for which read tightly screened) front, with smaller opening windows and sometimes a clerestory vent; the vents and windows were kept closed in the winter, but the front was left open. The experimentation lasted through 30 or 40 years, beginning sometime in the 1880s, if I remember correctly, and the method remained popular down into the 1930s.

    When I moved to Maine in 1972, there were still some of these open-air houses around, though they mostly hadn't been used since the 1940s, when the contract-growing battery broiler industry arrived in midcoast Maine and sent everyone into a death spiral of FHA debt for 40,000-bird houses. But I talked to old-timers who fondly remembered their fathers' fresh-air houses (scattered across wide pastures shared with dairy cattle, for the most part), and couldn't quite figure out why their fathers made a living and all they made was loan payments (a hardworking poultry-farming couple I knew both drove school buses to earn enough to raise four kids, despite having two 40,000-bird houses). And they also couldn't figure out why the chickens were so healthy back then, and now (meaning the 1970s) they had such shrinkage.

    Download the PDF from Google books and see for yourself. It's worth remembering that the chickens we raise today are the same chickens our grandparents raised, generation after generation of which never saw heat lamps, or insulation, or midnight treats of sprouted mung beans--although most of them ate sprouted oats in the winter, at least around here in what once was oat-growing country. And that our grandparents and great-grandparents weren't dumber than we are; quite the reverse, as near as I can tell.
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    A "fresh air coop" as per that book is NOT lacking in shelter/coop/enclosure.

  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Yes well, he *shows* that but notice that he does not *recommend* it (I forget what he suggests as the minimum workable house size but IIRC it is something on the order of 10x16). My own experience with horse sheds is that you need to have a significantly deeper narrower house for it to be reliably un-windy in the back of it. Given these things, and the fact that people using the *little* open-front houses shown in the book often had wyandottes (not very vulnerable to frostbite) and quite likely had a more relaxed idea towards the prospect of frostbit or dead chickens than most people on this forum do.... I sure would not recommend trying it in the serious North with a non-large coop.

    Just sayin',

  10. domino7

    domino7 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    My buddy lives in Michigan, and has many chickens in a series of open front enclosures. In the summer they are open on 3 sides, and he covers 2 sides with tarps for the winter. While I don't do it that way, I've never known him to have any problems with it. When I've been there in the winter, the birds all seem healthy and happy.

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