How much ventilation?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by DCSquirrel, May 4, 2011.

  1. DCSquirrel

    DCSquirrel Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2011
    I live in central NC and I am building a small coop for 4-6 chickens. How much ventilation does it need and should I close it up when it cools back off? Our weather is highly variable with highs in the 90's in the summer and lows in the single digits in the winter.
  2. DCSquirrel

    DCSquirrel Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2011
  3. wholehearted

    wholehearted Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2011
  4. mshirk

    mshirk Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 28, 2011
    Sammamish WA
    I am totally inexperienced, but I know there is a book out there written in 1912 (or thereabouts) about the revolution of open air poultry houses. The book was reprinted in the past 10 years by someone who couldn't believe how coops were becoming dark, closed up boxes again.

    I read the sample chapter the other night, and it really emphasizes how important ventilation is for chicken health. There are poultry houses in Canada with no wall on one side, to give lots of fresh air, even with snow heaped all around. Apparently studies showed that closed up coops, even in harsh winters, are detrimental to chicken health. As a newbie, this really surprised me.

    I can't remember the book, but just search on open air poultry houses and you will get the info and the sample chapter.

    At any rate, that is my inexperienced $.02 [​IMG] I hope someone in your area replies!
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    With gabled structures having 4:12 to 6:12 pitch venting from eaves to gable is very effective. Venting along each eave 2.5 sq inches per chicken and 2.5 sq inches per chicken total gable. This system supplies a minimum of 0.5 cubic ft of fresh air circulation per minute per chicken.

    Gable venting can be done via ridge vent or vents on each gable end (1/2 vent area each end). So it's as easy as counting chickens, 10 chooks is 25 sq inches of venting along each eave and total gable. This sounds like a small amount of area but with that roof slope (4:12 to 6:12) it's the most efficient air circulating system.

    NC's hot summers may warrant putting foil covered rigid foam on the roof to reflect out solar heating if your coop doesn't get full shade.
  6. DCSquirrel

    DCSquirrel Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2011
    Thanks! The chickens will only be sleeping in the coop at night. I used the lightest color shingles I could find on the roof to help with heat reflection.
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:Patandchickens (who I consider the resident expert here on the subject of ventilation) did a review of that book here once. If you do a bit of searching in the forum I bet you can come up with the thread.

    Bottom line, in a cold climate the only way these "fresh air" poultry houses can work without creating chicken icicles is to have the coop quite large and deep. In other words, if you try an open walled coop that's only 4 or 6 feet deep, your chickens aren't going to be out of the wind at the back of it and will suffer from wind chill. If, on the other hand, you're building a really big coop with a depth of 15 feet or so, it can be a workable design. I'm just going from my memory here (which is not as good as it used to be), so you'd be better off looking up the thread if you're really interested in doing one of these fresh air coops.
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The o.p. lives in central NC so I am not sure how relevant it is what works in Canada [​IMG]

    However, FOR central NC (note that I lived in Durham NC for 6 years, so I know the climate [and deeply, deeply miss the barbecue by the way!]) what you want for optimal coolth is to have at least one side of the coop basically fully screen, ideally more than one side like this. What you are shooting for is for it to get no hotter than 'outdoor temperature in the shade'. Large roof overhangs, or a roof over some of the run, helps too, as do large trees although then you can worry about storm damage causing limbs to fall on the coop so it's a tradeoff.

    For wintertime, you will want the chickens to have somewhere to get out of cold breezes; whether this means closing off some of your summertime mesh walls, or having a smaller mostly-enclosed area *within* the coop to protect them on the roost, depends on your individual circumstances and in particular on how many chickens you are going to be packin' into what size coop. The way most BYCers do things, you would want to be closing in the sides of the coop to make it mostly-solid. Obviously you still want reasonable wintertime ventilation, just not upwind or right next to the roost is all... see my ventilation page (link in .sig below) for more on the subject.

    Send BBQ please (preferably from John's Barbecue down towards Sanford or Aberdeen, I forget exactly where anymore) and a side of hushpuppies would be appreciated as well [​IMG],

  9. DCSquirrel

    DCSquirrel Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2011
    Thanks guys! So I guess I need to just screen the sides in the summer? Pat and Chickens, I live about 20 minutes from Lexington so I know all about the NC Barbeque. Of course there is the whole east vs west debate, but it's all good in my opinion!

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