How much airflow is too much? Drafty coop?

JHH3

Chirping
Dec 7, 2020
98
142
86
North West Wisconsin
Pardon the long winded preliminary explanation.

This is my first winter having chickens and my understanding is that they're pretty cold hardy as long as their coop isn't drafty and has good ventilation in order to keep the moisture down.

I bought a pre-built 8x10 chicken coop earlier this year, it's said to be an Amish design. On one long side there's a long window that can be closed down, covered in 1/4 inch hardware cloth. On the opposite long side there are 3 screened windows, which I covered with 1/2 inch hardware cloth as a security measure. The chicken's door is in one of the short sides, a big human size door in the other side.

The long window side is facing north, the 3 windows side is facing south, the chicken yard and coop are slightly offset beside a full size old style barn which is to the south south east of the coop.

In a couple days it's going to be down in the single digits high of 7F and low of -2F. It's not the temperature I'm worried about as much as the 14-15 mph winds coming out of the northwest that will be blowing at the same time as the arctic blast hits.

When the wind blows at that speed from that direction and I'm inside the coop, it's not breezy per se but I can feel the wind movement inside even at the roosting bar level inside the coop which is approximately 3 ft above the floor and approximately 2 ft from the long window. The 3 windows of the other side are even/slightly below the roosting bar (I've attached photos showing the configuration). The "door" to close off the long window, I've changed to open upwards and I keep it propped open all the time at a slight angle to shed water and block the security light from shining in too much at night. The 3 windows on the other side are full open most of the time, I'll adjust them occasionally if I think the wind is blowing directly in them. The coop is insulated but unheated, their roosting bars are 2x4's with the long side up so they can sit on their feet.

My question, simply asked, is how drafty is too drafty? I don't think it's too bad, by way of example I don't think it'd blow a downy feather off the roosting bar but I think it'd make the fuzz on it move some.

I expect even colder temperatures at times as winter progresses, I want to make sure I've prepared as best I can so I don't end up with frozen toes or combs.


2020-09-27_14-24-03_444.jpg 2020-10-08_18-45-07_837.jpg 2020-10-08_18-45-15_220.jpg
 

3KillerBs

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The problem is not how much airflow there is, but that the airflow on that particular coop is in the wrong place. :(

Having air flow across the roost bars is great in summer heat (as long as it's not driving rain), but what you really need, summer and winter, is airflow above the birds' heads. Heat and ammonia both rise and even in the winter the ammonia is being trapped in the roof above the level of the windows.

If it were mine I'd open up the entire gable triangle on both ends (providing some kind of awning against the rain).

I don't know what you can do that's easier in order to work with the existing windows. Maybe some kind of interior baffle to prevent wind from blowing directly onto the roosts?
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Can you lower the roosts? I moved mine down so that they are about 20 inches off the floor. When the chickens roost, even if they stand up tall, their heads are below the level of the opening. My ventilation is north-south too, btw.

Very nice looking coop!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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For a temporary fix you could tack some burlap or stuff furnace filter material (I think that's what @aart has suggested in the past?) into the open vents to help buffer or blunt drafts while still allowing air flow.

I agree having vents up even higher, like maybe some louvered gable vents in the peaks, or even better, opening up the soffits, would be beneficial in providing ventilation that's protected from winds/storms, and that way you can close up some of the windows on cold, windy days.
 

JHH3

Chirping
Dec 7, 2020
98
142
86
North West Wisconsin
The problem is not how much airflow there is, but that the airflow on that particular coop is in the wrong place. :(

Having air flow across the roost bars is great in summer heat (as long as it's not driving rain), but what you really need, summer and winter, is airflow above the birds' heads. Heat and ammonia both rise and even in the winter the ammonia is being trapped in the roof above the level of the windows.

If it were mine I'd open up the entire gable triangle on both ends (providing some kind of awning against the rain).

I don't know what you can do that's easier in order to work with the existing windows. Maybe some kind of interior baffle to prevent wind from blowing directly onto the roosts?

At some point I probably will add vents up there, probably a spring/summer project though. I thought about hanging something down the middle but these chickens are super skittish and a tarp or sheet I think would freak them out too much, I don't want to stress them out.
 

JHH3

Chirping
Dec 7, 2020
98
142
86
North West Wisconsin
Can you lower the roosts? I moved mine down so that they are about 20 inches off the floor. When the chickens roost, even if they stand up tall, their heads are below the level of the opening. My ventilation is north-south too, btw.

Very nice looking coop!

Lowering the roosts isn't really feasible, not right now at least and the last time I messed with the roosts the chickens were not happy with me.

Thanks, it's really a good coop despite a few design flaws.
 

JHH3

Chirping
Dec 7, 2020
98
142
86
North West Wisconsin
For a temporary fix you could tack some burlap or stuff furnace filter material (I think that's what @aart has suggested in the past?) into the open vents to help buffer or blunt drafts while still allowing air flow.

I agree having vents up even higher, like maybe some louvered gable vents in the peaks, or even better, opening up the soffits, would be beneficial in providing ventilation that's protected from winds/storms, and that way you can close up some of the windows on cold, windy days.

I'll have to see what I can find, was trying to avoid going into town this close to Christmas but may have to visit the hardware store and see if I can find anything. I don't think I have anything other than old towels, though I suppose that would work. The filter material is a good idea, though.

I'll probably do fancy vents in the peaks in the spring, though I could probably take a hole saw to the soffit in a few places then tack some hardware cloth over them but any complicated construction would be problematic tomorrow. It's going to be 40F and raining tomorrow, then it'll turn to snow in the late afternoon, then it's down to 5F overnight. I don't have much choice but to keep the chickens inside all day because they'll happily go out and get soaking wet in the rain if given the opportunity. They'd definitely not like me doing construction while they're all cooped up inside. :)

I'm probably worrying for nothing, but better safe than sorry.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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My question, simply asked, is how drafty is too drafty? I don't think it's too bad, by way of example I don't think it'd blow a downy feather off the roosting bar but I think it'd make the fuzz on it move some.
As long as their feather aren't ruffled(literally) on the roost the draft is not too strong. Undisturbed feathers hold the body heat.

The 3 windows on the other side are full open most of the time, I'll adjust them occasionally if I think the wind is blowing directly in them.
Do those windows open at the top too, or only at the bottom?

Any openings in the eave above those windows?

The coop is insulated
The insulation is really doing nothing. I hope they don't peck at it and eat it.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
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Oct 16, 2010
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You're overestimating the amount of open vents are needed in winter. How the air moves dictates how large the openings should be. Passive or convection air flow.

Convection will pull air in and push it out a higher opening. If that long upper vent was fixed open half an inch and the lower windows the same you'd have more than enough air flow for winter and that few of birds.

Putting vents in the gables would be a good move. It will aid in summer and winter. If you have small gable vent each side next winter you'd only have to prop the long vent above roost open less than an inch and could keep windows closed.
 

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