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Greenhouse attached to coop with compost pit....Ventilation??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jusme, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. Jusme

    Jusme New Egg

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    Michigan winters are brutal...So...I've added a greenhouse to the back of the coop. I dug a 4'x8'x3' pit in the center of the greenhouse and will fill it with compost for supplemental heating... Has anybody tried this? I'm concerned about the moisture and gases. ??? Just curious if anybody is doing this, and any[​IMG]

    knowledge they could share...Thanks~
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    You don’t have to keep the place the chickens are warm. You need to let the chickens keep themselves warm just like the wild birds you see in winter keep themselves warm. Their feathers keep them warm. They trap tiny bits of air in the down and feathers. This trapped air insulates them and keeps them warm.

    You probably don’t see many wild birds out when a cold wind is blowing pretty strongly. A strong cold wind can ruffle the feathers and let the air pockets out. Wild birds seek shelter in thickets and other hiding places where the wind can’t get to them. They still have good ventilation though. So you need to have a place they can get out of a direct wind. They’ll love the greenhouse for that.

    You have two dangers in the cold and ventilation can help with both of those. Ammonia forms when their poop decomposes and is bad for their respiratory system. Ammonia is lighter than air. If there are openings up high the ammonia will float on out of the enclosure.

    Excess moisture can lead to frostbite. Their breath and their poop have moisture. You need to get that excess moisture out of there, it can contribute to frostbite. Warm air holds more moisture than cooler air and it rises. Openings higher up will allow that moisture laden air to escape. If you get a pretty strong breeze but the openings are well above their heads, there will be some turbulence in there to get the air moving so you can exchange good air for bad, but the air movement will not be strong enough to ruffle their feathers.

    They will enjoy that compost pile too. They’ll stay busy scratching and stirring it up for you so it breaks down better and find all kinds of good things to eat in there. And the greenhouse will keep the snow out so that space is usable all winter.

    That’s a great set-up, just provide ventilation up high.
     
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  3. Jusme

    Jusme New Egg

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    Oh, thank you. Great info. Our wind is brutal here... The north side is made from old storm windows with screens, do you think I'd still need a roof vent if I opened the windows from the top? The roof is plywood, covered with black rubber roofing. It would be easy to vent it now...Lots of complaining if I wait until winter... *grin* And if I do need a roof vent, any suggestions on what kind to use...?
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Yeah, your winters are more brutal than mine, I moved far enough north when I retired. Did not want to go any further that direction. If it helps a member of the forum I trust a lot had chickens go feral in the Michigan peninsula and spent the winter sleeping in trees. Like the wild birds I’m sure they found protected spots in those trees to sleep but they really can handle cold pretty well.

    I’d think opening them at the top would be enough. It’s hard to say how much you need, it will depend on wind speed and direction as well as temperature difference inside versus outside.
     
  5. Jusme

    Jusme New Egg

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    Thanks for your help, Ridgerunner...I get the whole "moisture" thing...I'm a beekeeper. Cold doesn't kill bees, the moisture get's 'em. But this will be my first winter with chickens. I'll just keep an eye on the humidity. Play it by ear. I'm thrilled with the coop so far. Retired builders with a barn full of junk. We spent more time scrubbing up old siding and tearing apart sliding glass doors than we spent building the thing...But hey, I got a new coop and he got a big corner of his barn back.... *smile*
     
  6. SandyNest

    SandyNest Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in Michigan, have had egg birds for about 10 years. My coop is the east end of my barn, so it blocks the majority of the westerly winds. I don't heat anything. The 3' chicken wire section that I have on top of the west wall for ventilation gets covered with a heavy vinyl tarp during the winter (the west side of the coop has a large overhang that is the horses' run-in, so it does block some direct winds), but that and the gaps around the outside door are the only ventilation I have during the winter. I usually keep about 12 - 15 egg birds in that 8X10 coop (converted stall) and I usually use the deep compost method for floor shavings once the snow sets in, which means there's about 3-4 months that the sawdust doesn't usually get changed (unless it gets packed down too hard, then I try to change that out). It does help to keep some basic warmth in the coop, but when it's really cold or blowing, I keep the birds in out of the deep cold or wind and they always seem to be very comfortable.

    I have had a couple roosters that had particularly large combs or wattles that have had issue with frostbite. I have to watch for that and slather them with some vaseline, but otherwise I've had no issues.

    I would say if you put extra ventilation in your coop, make sure you have a method to cover/close it for those times during the year when the wind is howling or the cold gets really bitter, then open it back up when the really nasty weather has passed.
     
  7. Jusme

    Jusme New Egg

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    Great advice SandyNest!! Thank you. They free-range morning 'til dark. But we've got hawks that get hungrier in the winter. Any advice on the size holes for the wire run I"m adding? I've got some 2" x 4" welded wire, can hawks get through it? And ...Wow...Thanks for the advice about the "vaseline on combs" I've got a Rhode Island Rooster with a huge comb.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    If a hawk can get through 2x4 welded wire it’s going to be too small to be a real threat to grown chickens. Some really small bantams, maybe, and certainly a threat to small chicks though.

    Hawks are kind of funny. I let my chickens roam inside electric netting with nothing over it and I have a lot of hawks flying around, some pretty big. Broody hens with baby chicks run around out there. I often have brooder raised chicks as young as 5 weeks roaming out there with no protection. I’ve never lost a chicken to a hawk, but did lose one to an owl when I was late locking them up one night, it went into the coop and got one. I know others have had flocks wiped out by hawks, they are certainly a threat but you just don’t know how any predator will act. That uncertainty is what makes it hard.

    I have a main run made out of 2x4 welded wire where I can lock them up securely if I need to. I put chicken wire on the bottom 18” of that, more to keep the baby chicks from going through it of I wanted to confine them, but it has the effect of keeping a raccoon from reaching through and eating a chicken piecemeal or a chicken putting its head through the wire to eat grass where a predator can get it.

    While some predators like snakes, rats, and some weasels can get through 2x4 wire, I consider a run like that to be highly predator resistant though not totally predator proof.
     
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  9. SandyNest

    SandyNest Out Of The Brooder

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    We have never had a problem with hawks, although most of my run is well covered with large trees, so my chickens have good camouflage. We have had problems a year ago in the fall, and then again this spring with a predator. We "think" it was a raccoon, but so far have only caught a skunk and an opossum. I actually had the varmint climb up the corner of my barn and get in through a tear in the chicken wire ventilation section of my coop. (It is currently patched, but when I do get around to replacing the whole thing, I will put in hardware cloth - as chicken wire does degrade much quicker). We lost all but 2 of our chickens that time - much senseless killing, which angered me to no end. Birds had no escape, as they were locked in their coop for the night. This last spring, the varmint squeezed through a gap in a gate and then over a 4' separating chain-link panel to get into my duck pen. 8 of 15 ducks were killed or mortally wounded, so I slapped together a mini duck fortress using 4' chainlink panel sections with a chainlink roof to lock them into at night. First issue I've had in 10 years, but then, I haven't had an outdoor dog in the last 7 or 8 years, so that, I think, has made a big difference. It is no fun to go to you coop and be faced with that kind of carnage though. Definitely worth it to put in necessary precautions ahead of such events.
     
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  10. SandyNest

    SandyNest Out Of The Brooder

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    PS - I love your greenhouse idea, and I think Ridgerunner's suggestions for ventilation will make it a great winter spot for your chickens! Wish I had one!! I will add that to my ideas for enhancing my run for wintertime!!
     
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