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Fresh air poultry coop - Winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by igapo, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. igapo

    igapo Out Of The Brooder

    I am new to chicken raising in northern Massachusetts and thought I would share by positive experiences so far with my coop design. We bought 2 female buff orpington and 2 female barred rock chicks in March of 2013 and 2 female Americana chicks in May. I spent a lot of last winter and spring researching, to the extreme, ideas for coops. Just when I was about ready to settle on a design, I came across a lot of discussion on BYC about ventilation and air quality. Eventually, I came across the fresh-air coop design of JackE (member) who turned me on to the philosophy and book by Prince T. Woods entitled Fresh-Air Poultry Houses. I liked the smaller, box-like designs and decided to try to create my own making sure to make the coop a bit longer than wider (~6x8) in my case. My girls are doing very well and have been laying eggs in the coldest of winter; we are getting 3-4 eggs a day (one hen I don't think every started laying). I was definitely nervous about moisture in the heavy rains. No problems. I was then worried about the snow getting in, but I haven't had snow get much beyond the front sill of the hardware cloth wire (the run was a bit more snow so I covered 3 of the sides with plastic). As for breezes and the wind, I hung from the inside roof and under one of the roosts a light piece of string with a small feather superglued to it. I used these to check for breezes. They move a bit with the wind, but only slightly and I think it is mainly from the pressure differences from the air moving outside the front. Temperatures have been absolutely no problem. The girls have been spending down to single digits lately on multiple days/nights without issue. I did crack a little with the impending recent blizzard and decided to drape bed sheets over the front openings just in case; I don't think I will next time. A couple of days ago, I was a little concerned because temperatures were supposed to drop to an unusual low of about -20 F and I read somewhere that this is a temperature that starts stressing chickens. If it were just up to me I would have left them, but my wife was also a little worried so we put them all in my colder basement overnight; I felt as though someone pulled the plug on my experiment.

    Temperatures lately: Normal in the teens. At night, we have had a run of single digits, low of about -14.

    I highly recommend the Woods book and seriously consider an open coop design.


    The majority (~80%) of the front of the coop (left structure) is open all the time. No heat, no insulation, no light, no electricity.
    [​IMG]

    These next photos are to show the general layout design, but have bed sheets draped over the open fronts in anticipation of a blizzard; I don't think they were necessary.
    [​IMG]
    Plastic sheeting around 2 sides of larger run
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Coop fully accessible via a large back door.
    [​IMG]
    Chickens have access underneath coop (~18 inches tall). This shows that part covered in plastic.
    [​IMG]
    Side access door and external nesting box.
    [​IMG]
    nesting boxes.
    [​IMG]
    Blizzard called for single digits so I did this just as a precaution; I don't think I need it next time.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
    2 people like this.
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for posting this! Excellent information!
     
  3. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is very adorable, and a good example of a small fresh air coop. I am doing something like this, but 8 by 10.
     
  4. JordanWalker

    JordanWalker Out Of The Brooder

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    It's really a good example of fresh air coop. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely check these designs.
     
  5. WthrLady

    WthrLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm actually building one of these in the spring. I am also building a scale model this week an using a flame and a wind tunnel and will be showing the results on YouTube :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    @igapo are you still around? Wondering how this has held up for you long term?

    I've often wonder if the Woods concept would work on a smaller scale but with same proportions.
    Is that back eave sealed off?
     
  7. WthrLady

    WthrLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine will be 8x12. Proportion is important. The back must close in winter, to avoid allowing the wind to draw through.
     
  8. igapo

    igapo Out Of The Brooder

    I am still around. My coop is sealed on 3 sides; don't have any openings on those sides or a draft will be created. I have the entrance on the right close to the front and that stays open. The girls did extremely well all winter and we were only down a couple eggs each day but they were still mostly laying. I have a new curtain that I put up inside to draw across (something that is a bit heavier and fits better). I am happy with the design and would like to have a reason to tear it down and make a bigger version. I highly recommend the open design. I don't know if I have even had any moisture/snow ever get more than an inch into the front. My coop never smells bad even if neglected longer than it should. It was a killer winter too. The curtains are on the inside with a curtain rod a simple rope pull system to open and close without going into the coop. The sheet outside didn't work because it was getting blown too much. Fresh air baby. Chickens are tough!
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  9. igapo

    igapo Out Of The Brooder

    If you need more visuals I can post a video tour.
     
  10. WthrLady

    WthrLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know,right. We got down to 4'last week and when let them out the next morning, they all came bounding out, excited and chatting away like the were returning from a spa in palm springs!
     

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