Hand-me-down coop ventilation question

davealden43

In the Brooder
Sep 3, 2019
6
2
14
Hello Chicken Gurus,

Newbie here. I was given a coop (and this free coop is probably costing me hundreds of dollars for other stuff, but that's beside the point) and was told that it should be able to accommodate 4 chickens. The inside has one roosting bar and I'm going to build nesting boxes that will stick off the back. We live in the suburbs and needed to get a permit to get the chicken, and they need to be enclosed at all times, so I'm building an attached chicken run that's about 80sq ft and will be covered and wire fenced. Anyway, my first question about the coop is that I've read that ventilation is important but I'm having a hard time figuring out where I should put a vent. It seems like if I put two vented holes near the top (one on each side), that would be good for cross ventilation but would also be cold when winter arrives (I'm in Massachusetts and winters with stretches of single-digit days are not uncommon). I could also drill through the roof of the coop and then have an elbow for air but I wasn't sure if that would be enough... Any recommendations? The coop is 48" x 36" and 34" at the tallest point (front).

Thanks in advance!

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so lucky

Crowing
9 Years
Jan 31, 2011
1,249
2,852
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SE Missouri
Is the little window on the front hardware cloth or wire of some sort? So that will be some ventilation.
In the back, where the hinged screen is, will that be where your nest boxes are? Is that also going to be your access door to the coop? You could just have one roomy nest box--don't need a separate one for each chicken. They will probably double up anyway. And have ventilation on the sides by the nest box.
Will you have to go into the run to open the pop door to let the chickens out? Make sure you have an accessible gate to the run.
I am a big fan of lots of wire window areas that can be closed up in the winter if necessary. You can staple clear(ish) plastic to the frame to keep the elements out, while leaving some of the area open for ventilation. A small clear tarp will last you for several years, cutting new pieces each fall to staple into place.
You need to make sure you don't make it so cozy inside that it is too dark for the chickens to get to bed. (If there is electricity to the coop, you could use a small light in there during morning and evening)
Try to orient the largest open areas so you can get a breeze, but can be mostly closed against the harshest winter snow/rain/sleet/wind.
 

so lucky

Crowing
9 Years
Jan 31, 2011
1,249
2,852
372
SE Missouri
Also, if you feel handy (or brave) you could get a salvage window to install into one of the sides. Hardware cloth first, then the window which will be open or be removed during nice weather. That would take care of the lighting issue.
 
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wamtazlady

Crowing
8 Years
Jul 18, 2013
1,713
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Kalispell MT
Your idea of putting 2 vents up high is great. Then put the roosting bar lower in the coop so no breeze that blows in the vents will blow on the birds. Also, if you put clear vinyl on 3 sides of your run during the winter that will also keep breezes from blowing into the coop while allowing good ventilation. The open side of the run should be the side that doesn't get wind. It would also be great if you plan on roofing your run. Many chickens do not like to go out in the snow. Having a roofed run means the chickens will be outside no matter how much snow is on the ground. That gives the birds more room and prevents bad behavior that can happen when chickens feel crowded.

Remember this. A dry chicken is a warm chicken. To keep your chickens warm during the winter you need to vent the warm but moist air out of the coop. Chickens make a lot of moisture when they breathe and poop. Chickens handle cold weather a lot easier than they handle hot weather. It has to do with those lovely down blankets they wear year round. Chickens trap heat under the down. As long as the down feather don't get ruffled they chickens will hold in their heat.

Single digit days are not a problem for chickens. Mine are outside in their protected run even when it is -22 F. Their food and water is kept outside year round. Remember, those little sparrows and wrens are out in the cold all winter. By fluffing up and trapping heat under their down and sleeping in a protected area that has ventilation but no breeze, those little birds do fine when it is cold.

It would be good if you can run electricity to your coop or at least have the coop close enough to an outlet to run an extension cord. Having electricity will be a huge help in the winter by allowing you to have some sort of heated water. Without electricity you will be taking water out 2 or 3 times a day.

Before long you will have to deal with cold weather and frozen water. For water I use a container. In my case it is a tote with lid but others use all sorts of buckets or large jugs. Horizontal nipples (not vertical) are attached to the container near the bottom of the container. To keep the water thawed there is a stock tank deicer inside the container in the water. Has kept my water thawed down to the lowest temperatures we have gotten in NW Montana. My birds have never been without thawed water in the winter.
 

davealden43

In the Brooder
Sep 3, 2019
6
2
14
Hi All,

Thanks for all the great responses.

In regard to the enclosure, my plan is to have a hole in the side of the wire fencing that will be a pass-through (some type of super-secure tunnel) from the coop to the enclosure, and the whole enclosure will have a roof (hence the pitched framing) and will be fenced in on all sides with an access door in the front. I've read about putting wire fencing on the ground around the enclosure to discourage digging and I think I've got a good handle on this aspect of chicken care. I will have side panels that can go up as needed for when the weather really gets rough and I will have power out there to keep the water from freezing (I've read about aquarium heaters, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there).

We're researching different options for an automatic door for the coop itself, solar powered vs being on a timer, etc so hopefully that will be a "set and forget" type of thing.

I planned on putting the nesting box off the back of the coop with a hinged roof for egg access. I thought that having it divided in two would be appropriate for the width of the coop and the 4 chickens. With the nesting box in place, that mesh panel that's seen dangling off the back will gone.

Getting back to the ventilation issue, I guess for the time being, the easiest option would be to move the roost bar down lower and get out the old hole saw and put two holes in near the top to allow for some cross ventilation.

The small window in the front is actually just plexiglass and does not open...

Oy!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
97,711
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SW Michigan
My Coop
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(I've read about aquarium heaters, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there).
It can work, don't skimp on the heater...and get your birds acclimated now to using horizontal nipples.
This has worked well for me for 5 years now:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/aarts-heated-waterer-with-horizontal-nipples.67256/

so hopefully that will be a "set and forget" type of thing
Hmmm, you can hope...but there not much about chickens that is 'set and forget'...they need to be checked on twice a day, early and late.

Getting back to the ventilation issue, I guess for the time being, the easiest option would be to move the roost bar down lower and get out the old hole saw and put two holes in near the top to allow for some cross ventilation.
Yup, lower roost to just above nests. Would be good to drill those holes from inside way up high behind the fascia for 24/7 weather proofed vents...might need to remove the 'ceiling'. Could use 4" louvered vent covers to deter drafts and keep rodents out.
 

davealden43

In the Brooder
Sep 3, 2019
6
2
14
got two 4" louvered vents. Just gotta lower the roost bar (and build the nesting boxes and finish the enclosed run and get the feed & water situation set up which will be JUST in time to get winterized...)
 

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