Looking for coop advice for cold Michigan weather?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by farmin4fun, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. farmin4fun

    farmin4fun Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2012
    Jackson, Michigan
    Hello All,

    I finally was able to get a couple acres out in the country and am excited about starting my new chicken flock and get back to my country roots.

    Anyway, I am building a new coop and had a question about ventilation. I will be housing 15-25 large breed birds in a 12Wx12Lx8H coop I am building. Until recently I hadn't thought much about ventilation, but I've recently had some concerns about it since I will be making this coop very well insulated and draft proof for the cold Michigan weather here, and I will not be heating it other than a maybe a small heat lamp or 2.

    I am only planning for 1 window for the moment. Anyone know from experience if it will it be enough ventilation for me to just keep the window cracked during the winter or should I plan for more robust ventilation system? During the summer they will be free ranging so I'm not as worried about warmer months. Just the cold/snowy winter months where they will be locked up more often.

    I've been looking on forums, but haven't found anything yet that addresses my concerns about my particular situation. Most forums answer these questions for either warmer climates where insulation isn't needed or different sized flocks or coops.

    Any advice from fellow cold-weather chicken owners would be very helpful. Thanks in advance!!!
  2. 3forfree

    3forfree Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2010
    essexville, michigan
  3. loanwizard

    loanwizard Chillin' With My Peeps

    IMO you will need ventilation at the top. Condensation from their breathing creates moisture in the air. That air, if not exhausted, is what causes frostbite. My coop (Ohio) is open all the way around the top. Ventilation is airflow and is critical. Drafts are streams of air that hit the birds directly, like allowing air to blow on their roosts.

  4. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2011
    Central Michigan
    Welcome to BYC, fellow Michigander!

    My coop has a 4 inch gap under all the eaves--covered in hardware cloth, of course. These gaps are open year-round. The walls are 6 ft high with the highest perch being about 4 ft off the ground so there is no draft blowing directly on the birds. I can feel the air moving through the coop during the winter. But, what is cold for me is perfectly comfortable for the birds.

    In addition I have two windows on the two cross-wind walls. Each window is about 12x24 inches. These windows are open on all but the coldest winter days (approx 15 degrees and lower).

    I do not provide any heat lamp in the coop, but I did make a water heater from a cookie tin (search for instructions here, it's a great and cheap alternative). The heated cookie tin sat under my metal waterer and kept the water from freezing except for a few very cold nights.

    I learned that my birds are much more comfortable in the cold than in the heat (think about down-filled coats and blankets and how insulating down is). They definitely suffer more in the heat of summer than in the cold of winter.

    Oh, and I feel that the deep litter method I used also made for a warmer floor for the birds. You can read about it in a thread I just posted a few minutes ago.

    Good luck!
  5. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    2 people like this.
  6. farmin4fun

    farmin4fun Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2012
    Jackson, Michigan
    Thanks to all for taking the time to respond!!! Special thanks to flockwatcher for the GREAT link. This link was very informational and answered all my questions and more importantly gave me a good understanding of "why".

    I had several misconceptions about what was needed. Good thing I asked on this forum. Thanks again!!

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