Okay, Now I'm REALLY Confused About Ventilation

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Uncle Marc, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. Uncle Marc

    Uncle Marc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 12, 2011
    Poplar Grove Kentucky
    I asked a question the other day about ventilation on this forum and was directed to the Woods type coops with open ventilation all year round, and lots of it. I got the book and read the ideas in it.

    Then I read more from others about how to heat a coop in the winter.

    No I'm confused. If I'm encouraged to use the open coop method of ventilation, with half a wall nothing but hardware cloth and lots of other ventilation up higher, why any talk at all about heating the coop or insulating it?

    The two ideas are inconsistent. What do the experienced hands on deck have to say?
  2. KDK1

    KDK1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    Tennessee Plateau
  3. JacksonH

    JacksonH Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 21, 2011
    You are right! The two ideas are inconsistant.

    There is one school of thought that says chickens do best when exposed to as much fresh air as possible, and therefore no closing up the coop or heating it in the winter.

    The other school of thought is that chickens get cold in the winter and therefore need some heating.

    Your locale might be a deciding factor, however I live in Southern Oregon and we do get snow, sometimes lots of snow. My neighbor has an open-front coop, aka Woods design, and swears by it. She has had her coop for many years and has not felt the need to heat it, and her birds do fine. I suppose if I lived in Northern Montana I might think differently, however, I have converted our garden shed into an open-front coop and do not plan on closing it up or heating it in the winter.

    I'm not sure if one way is better than the other, however opinions vary.

  4. trooper

    trooper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2010
    [​IMG];)Chickens have survived the winters for years.As long as they have a place to get in out of the cold they should be fine.My coop(which I am in the process of remodeling)did great for them last winter.It keeps them dry and gets them in out of the outside air.The Good Lord gave a great blanket on their bodies.I feed mine shelled corn in the winter as a treat.Corn helps their bodies to heat up.Pick one up this winter and feel under their feathers next to their bodies.It is warm.They will do fine.I don't have heat.They get some heat from the shavings and poo on the floor.There are alot of ways you can put in enough heat that will be safe.
  5. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2010
    Northern Kentucky
    Marc since I am also in Kentucky(50 miles northeast of Louisville) I can tell you that last year our hens did fine without any extra heat. The main thing in our area is to have plenty of ventilation but no direct drafts on the chickens. Our coop is a rectangle with the roosts on one end and the vents high on the front and rear walls on the other end. The venting on the rear wall(the side the wind comes from) equals about 6" high x 48" long. The front vent is about 12" x 36". I have a 24"x36" window that can be opened during the day when needed.

    Those are just the winter vent. I have about 3 times that much vent that's open from late March through October. The main thing is to watch for condensation/sweating inside the coop,that is a sign you need more vents! At no time last winter did we use any heat in the coop. Except the heated water bowl of course. We had no problems at all except for some slight frostbiten comb on one hen. That's when we opened more vent and things were fine the rest of the winter.

    Almost forgot! It's best to use 2"x4"s for roosts. Install them so the 4" side is where the chickens sit. That way their feet and toes are right under their bodies and there's no frostbitten toes!
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2011
  6. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    It boils down too where you live & how you built your coop. Here's my four sided coop & you can see the boards are butted up to one another & the gaps have grown even bigger with time. This acts as ventilation through out the coop. Plus, I have three big windows. The north wall has no windows. Obviously, my coops are built for hot weather not cold.
    Also, the coop is under a big tree to shade the coop again to protect the birds from our long hot summers. Old man winter finally shows up. I simply tarp off the windows . One window I block off with Plexiglass it helps with adding some light to the coop.
    This year I will block one window with plexiglass & the others with clear thick plastic. The main thing is to keep the wind off the birds. All my roost are in the windows again I try to keep the birds cool in the triple digit summers. My concern is leaning towards the heat. Its the heat thats hard on them not the cold. [​IMG]
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yes, there are differing points of view and different management styles. You have to find your niche.

    To some degree, it is a matter of local climate. Erlanger, Kentucky is mild and except for the occasional cold snap, winters aren't tough at all. There is no comparison to the northern plains, or upper midwest, or northern New England. No comparison at all. Yet even in those colder areas, while people might not use the completely open style, still, most do not heat or insulate, I know I do not.

    I do however, have a barn that is solid shelter and free from winds and blowing snow and stays nice and dry. That for me is the key factor. Also, I only keep hardy breeds.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
  8. turbodog

    turbodog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Independence, La.
    I've got an open-ended hoop coop, (you can see it on my page) but then down here in south Louisiana, my concerns are more heat related than cold. I figured I could always tarp off most the open parts on a temporary basis if temperatures get unusually low for our area.

    Maybe you might try going to a kentucky page in the "Where am I? Where are you!" section (you may have to use the search function) and ask what experienced chicken keepers in your area tend to go with and how their birds have done in kentucky winters.

    General thinking is though, that chickens handle cold better than heat.
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Being in Kentucky I see no problem with an open front coop. Here in Northern New Hampshire we have a closed coop with designed ventilation, better than minimum air circulation needed but not excessive. Our run gets turned into open front only by putting a tarp on top and three sides for winter snow and wind shelter. No heat, no problems.
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Some people don't understand that chickens wear a permanent down coat. They think that because they get cold, the chickens get cold, so they provide heat when it is not necessary. But just because someone else thinks they have to provide heat does not mean you have to.

    You can build a coop that does need heat. The ones mainly at risk are the ones with poor ventilation where the moisture builds up. As Dirtsaver mentioned, the problems cleared up with proper ventilation.

    A coop with an open side can work, but they need to be positioned right. You don't want the wind blowing snow and rain in, so that side needs to be protected, or downwind if your winds are that predictable, like maybe in a protected valley. You really don't want the wind blowing on them on the roost. Wind chill does matter. My roosts are at 4 feet and the bottom of my vents are at 8 feet. Mine are protected on all four sides from a wind, but my coop is out in the open. I can open it up more in the summer, but I do try to keep wind off them in the winter. My winter low last winter was (-) 4 Fahrenheit, for reference.

    Growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, we had chickens that roosted in trees instead of going into the coop. The trees were in a well protected valley and those plum tree branches were pretty thick, so they would provide some protection from breezes. Sometimes it got well below zero Fahrenheit and those chickens did OK. They were not quite as exposed as you would normally think by them roosting in trees, but they were certainly not in a coop.

    Thinking about it, I probably coddle mine more than I need to, but I don't give them the freedom to select how they position themselves in a tree to get a break from the wind. It really did not cost me any more to provide protection in the winter yet have the ability to open it up in the summer.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by