Help: Where should I construct a window in my coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brittk, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. brittk

    brittk Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey there!

    Our home came with an existing coop that we are making some changes to before our chickens arrive at the end of this month. One of the big things I am worried about is not having proper ventilation.

    Currently, the coop has ventilation through the pop door (which will be closed at night because the run is currently covered with chicken wire and not hardware cloth), and through open rafters (5 on north & south walls, each measuring about 14.5" x 3.5". The coop has two windows on each side of the south-side human door, but they are inoperable, for light only.

    The roosts are on the west side, and the nesting boxes are on the east. From what I've read about drafts, I'm VERY confused on where to construct another window for ventilation. The only place that seems draft-free would be on the north wall where the pop-door is, but then the only cross-ventilation would be from that window to the rafters on the top of the south-side.

    Any advice is appreciated!
     
  2. mikes chicks

    mikes chicks Out Of The Brooder

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    U can cut a hole and and use chicken wire so they can't get out for ventilation
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Hi,

    Pending advice from the coop building / ventilation experts - it may be worth considering creating ventilation holes (covered with chicken wire, or whatever) on the north and south sides - could you maybe drill holes (I assume the coop is made from wood?) or cut out rectangles just below the rafters and maybe smaller ventilation holes lower down? (possibly more towards the east side, away from the roosting area).

    There's lots of info if you search for "ventilation in coops" that should help you further whilst waiting for the experts to wake up and get posting.

    All the best
    CT

    I'll keep this subscription open as it will be interesting to see what other members advise.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Are those openings on the north and south covered with Hardware cloth to stop predators? They should be. Openings up that high on two opposite walls are a long way to getting decent ventilation.

    What is your climate like? Modifying your profile to show where you are can really help in answering this type of question. Heat is usually more dangerous than cold for the vast majority of us but you do need to give them some protection from winds hitting them directly in the cold if it is really cold.

    People often get confused with “drafts”. They think we are talking about a real gentle air movement like you might get through a window in your house. We are not. We are talking about enough air movement to ruffle feathers or create a wind chill effect. A light gentle draft is good. It exchanges bad air for good.

    There are two types of bad air. When their poop breaks down it creates ammonia. If the poop is extremely dry or frozen it won’t break down, but if it is damp or wet and thawed, it will. Ammonia is lighter than air and can damage their respiratory system. If you have an opening above their heads, even a fairly small opening will work. Gravity will supply the energy to move it. Your openings up high should work really well.

    The other problem is moisture from their breathing, their poop, and probably a waterer if you have water in the coop. If your temperatures are below freezing it’s possible for them to get frostbite, that’s what moisture can lead to, frostbite. I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees with outside temperatures below zero Fahrenheit and not get frostbite. They had great ventilation and were in a sheltered valley and able to move the trees to get out of a strong wind. People in the south of the US can create conditions to cause their chickens to get frostbite but they almost have to work at it.

    With your openings at the top any breeze will cause a gentle movement in your coop that will remove moisture without a strong breeze blowing directly on them. You are probably OK when a breeze is blowing. When it is really cold a breeze is often not blowing.

    Hot air rises and holds more moisture than colder air. In your coop you normally have the chickens’ body heat, the heat of fresh poop, any heated water, and if your coop is in the ground, the ground provides heat especially in a cold snap. Some people think you have to have an opening down low to get this air movement. You don’t. The weight of the colder air outside your coop will provide the energy to get some good air movement. The more openings up high you have the better. Gable vents, roof vents, or cupolas can really help with this.

    Where an opening down low helps if the wind is not blowing is when there is a difference in the air temperature. If you can get colder air coming in down low that will help push warmer air out of the top. In winter that can happen but where it is really beneficial is during the hot summer when the inlet down low is on the shady side so the air is cooler. Especially if your coop is fairly high you can get a pretty good air movement through your coop. In hot weather a breeze, even a fairly strong breeze, is a good thing.

    I don’t know what your coop looks like, how big it is, how many chickens you have, what your climate is like, or what your local wind currents are like. I can’t get real specific on recommendations. Hopefully you can get something out of this that helps.

    Good luck!
     
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  5. brittk

    brittk Out Of The Brooder

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    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  6. brittk

    brittk Out Of The Brooder

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    Here are a few photos of the coop, hopefully these will help!

    [​IMG]
    Coop Front Door (South Side) with two inoperable windows. The door needs some work, but will be shut tight before the hens come to the coop.

    [​IMG]
    North-side wall. The blue boxes on the top are the open rafters (6 total), and can also be found on the south side where the front door of the coop is. The red boxes are possible options for where to create a window if needed. Roosts will be to the left, and the nest boxes are to the right.

    [​IMG]
    East-side wall. Bottom blue box shows the pop door, which is on the north wall. The red boxes are potential window spaces. The red box at the bottom indicates a lower window underneath the floating nest boxes.

    Thanks y'all, and let me know if there's any other information you need to help make an informed decision with me. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks, those photos help. If it were me I’d raise the roosts. That’s easier than lowering the nests. Chickens normally like to sleep on the highest thing they can get to and they poop a lot. At night they are not moving around so the poop can build up. You don’t want poopy eggs. Those look about the same height so it’s about 50-50 where they will sleep.

    Your nests are on the east wall. That is good. The south and west walls can get pretty hot during the afternoon and can turn the nests into ovens. The east wall should stay relatively cool.

    You’ve been getting more severe weather this year than I have, just depends on how these systems go. The coldest I normally see it here most years is a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit but it’s barely made it into the single digits once so far this year. I think you’ll be OK with that in the winter as you are, just don’t raise the roosts enough to put them in a cross breeze. With those windows you’ll have plenty of light in there. You’d be surprised how much light you can get just from those openings at the rafters.

    Your summers are what would concern me. Your pop door on the north wall will always be in the shade so it will let in a lot of cooler air when it is open. That’s good. It should help keep the heat from building up as much.

    I’m a little torn as to how much you need anything else. Option #2 wouldn’t be bad but I’d probably go with option #4 so you can have some air coming in low during the summer nights. Instead of a regular window, I’d probably make the cut-out and frame it in, then cover it with wire to stop predators. In the winter, especially when you are getting cold winds, put a cover on it. You could maybe hinge it and just close it or maybe screw a piece of plywood over it. If you needed light I’d suggest Plexiglas but you don’t need any more light.

    That coop has a lot going for it. Good luck!
     
  8. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    So what you have right now are the rafter vents (soffets). I suggest putting in a few gable vents at the roof peak, as high and close to the roofline as you can get them. The soffet vents will pull in air, and the gable vents will expel air. Relying on windows for ventilation can be problematic, especially if you have to close them due to weather.
     
  9. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally I would go with option 3 or option 4 under nesting boxes
     
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  10. brittk

    brittk Out Of The Brooder

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    Southeast Missouri
    Thanks for all of your advice, it's very much appreciated! The frame that you see on the roost side is actually going to end up as a dropping board, with the roosts a good 6 inches above that, so hopefully that will be enough to keep them out of those nest boxes! I am also thinking about creating a simple slope for the top of the nest boxes ... My thinking is if I was a chicken, I'd treat that area above like a mini playground. :)

    I think Option 4 seems like it makes the most sense, so I will likely spend some time this weekend reading up on how to cut-out and frame the area, and then we can go from there! Thank you!
     

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