How Best to Ventilate a Simple Coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ClareScifi, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If one has a very simple coop with no windows, heat, insulation, or light, just one main entry door on the west and one smaller sliding door on the east, can anything be done to enhance ventilation so frostbite isn't a problem? The west door is full-size. The sliding door on the east is about 30" high and 3 feet across, made of chip board. It leads into the chicken run and there is a wall of glass and wood halfway up the south side of the run, so that sliding door entry to the coop is somewhat protected from the cold and drafts, unlike the door on the west. The chickens roost on nesting boxes in the northewestern corner of the coop. I have big bags of pine shavings up against the outside of the coop's walls in the areas where the chickens roost, to help insulate them from the cold. My rooster got frost bite last winter, and I've read that the main cause of that is humidity. I do the deep litter method in my coop. One small section of the coop to the north of the sliding door has a small opening covered with chicken wire, so fresh air does come in there. I'm worried my rooster will get frostbite again this year. I'm buying a hygrometer to monitor the humidity in the coop. Is there anything I should or shouldn't be doing to bring down the humidity? Should I not leave any poop in the deep litter? Does it add too much moisture?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't know where you live but IMO you need to cut some big holes in the wall. I prefer openings on the east so they catch the morning sun. Also, if you are in the northern hemisphere, the prevailing winds are from the west.
    The feces will add some humidity till it dries but the chickens respiration adds a lot too.
    They don't just need ventilation for humidity but also for fresh air. Unless it's well below zero there, they don't need protection from the cold.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop
    Chickens die from heat and bad air, not cold.

    Cover all openings with hardware cloth.
    A raccoon will shred chicken wire for a tasty chicken dinner. Raccoons cans climb a sheer wall and squeeze into tiny openings.
     
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  3. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG]

    Ventilation

    My rule of thumb in my particular set up is above 0 or 32º vents open. Below 0 or 32º vents closed.

    Every coop is different according to climate, humidity, water delivery and size.

    Daily visits and paying attention to ammonia smells and condensation is the only way to find out what works for you.

    Condensation and ammonia smells are directly proportional to ventilation. The more condensation and ammonia smells you have the more ventilation you need.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  4. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never had any ammonia smell in my coop. Thanks for the info.

    I think the chickens are pretty happy. The only thing that bothers me is that the rooster got frostbite last year when the temp was about 18 F. It is colder this year. We've had a week where the temps have been around 2-5 degrees F during the night and in the high teens/low twenties during the day. I keep the main door closed during the day and the sliding door open so the chickens can go out into the run if they wish, so I think there is enough ventilation.

    I suspect my rooster would have gotten frostbite last winter anyway, even with more ventilation in the coop. Is that possible? He has a big huge comb. The humidity was just very high, and we went for at least 6 weeks without seeing a day above freezing.

    He's crowing today, because it has warmed up to 21 and warmer weather is on the way. I think he senses it. It might get up to 38 F tomorrow.

    No need cutting holes in the coop if it isn't going to prevent frostbite.
     
  5. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    My Delaware Rooster got a touch of frostbite last year despite my best efforts.
    Even the Vaseline trick on the comb did not prevent it.
    He still crowing and it was a long way from his heart.


    [​IMG]
     
  6. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a beautiful boy! What do you mean by 'it was a long way from his heart?' Is frostbite more dangerous in some locations than others? My boy lost a tip of his comb, near the back of his comb. Is that a bad spot, danger-wise? You have made me feel better. Sometimes I think frostbite just can't be prevented, no matter what you do. My boy would kill me if I tried to put Valeline on his comb. He thinks I am one of his hens, and he would not allow it. HAHA
     
  7. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Put some ventilation holes along the top of the wall on the far side from where they roost (cover them with hardware cloth to keep out varmints). That will allow relatively warmer and moister air to vent. If it seems too windy, you can put a deflector on the inside or outside to reduce drafts but allow airflow. Do you have a roost for them, or just the boxes? I have a window on the south side of my coop that the top part stays open all year long, adjusting the amount as needed for wind and extreme cold ( like subzero up here).
     
  8. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, 1Muttsfan, for the idea. We built two long shelf-like things, one atop the other, which I cover with pine shavings. They lay their eggs in it and also roost on the top shelf of it at night. It's about 18" tall.
     
  9. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pictures would help as well as the coop size. In my opinion, nearly every coop should have a window or fixed plexiglass porthole to allow natural light into the coop for the birds and help dry things out. Provided that your run is secure, I would leave the pop door open and cut a few high openings on the coop for ventilation. Add flaps over the vents so that you can adjust airflow according to the weather/winds. You can even add a windblock around the pop door if you want. If you have poop boards then clean these daily. If you let poop fall to the floor bedding then you can add chips/DE/Sweet PDZ occasionally to the waste and shovel out on occasions. Hope this helps.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Cut out a section of wood from your wall and then hinge it back on. That way you can open it for ventilation and then shut it if you need to. Would be good in the summer, too, to allow heat to escape. You'll need to add hardware cloth to the opening to prevent predators.

    Try adding a deep layer of pine shavings and see if that helps. Seems to me that the shavings almost wick moisture from the air. In any case, it wouldn't hurt.

    My coop has windows and I keep two small windows propped open a few inches 24/7. I also do deep litter so there's a lot of pine shavings and leaves in there. Thankfully, it's stayed very dry, no moisture at all and I check the windows every morning for any hint of condensation.
     
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