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Open air coop design

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by snowchickens, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. snowchickens

    snowchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 4, 2009
    Hillsboro,NH
    We are newbies to keeping chickens. We have seven Heavy Breed poults, almost 20 weeks old. We designed our coop with the "old time" design of having the doors at one end open air, built with hardware cloth(wire mesh). We live in New Hampshire, and I'm wondering if we should use plexiglass to cover the "open air" door in the winter, and if so...what about venelation? We would be devastated if anything should happen to any of our girls! But the "open air " theory really makes sense to us also. I have read so many conflicting theories on the matter!
     
  2. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2009
    On real cold and breezy days i am shutting the door and window. There are 2 vents so that should help. I will keep their pop door open if they wish to go to their run,but again if its really really cold the pop door will be closed and the little red heat lamp will be hanging about 4 foot from the floor.
     
  3. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    First, welcome to the forum. Ventilation is very important, you are right. And to keep a dry, draftfree area. There are several recent posts about winterizing coops and keeping water from freezing in this section, you may want to scroll through some of them. I would keep something at hand to cover the screen when the weather gets too harsh. Better to have it and be prepared than dealing with the problems..... I live in WI, this will be my first winter with chickens. I also got breeds that are supposed to be good for cold weather....small combs and heavier breeds. I am not planning on heating the coop but have moved my chickens from their small prefab coop into a converted gardenshed....run is attached and I am planning on keeping the popdoor open during the day in the winter so they can go out in the covered run if they want. I have to see how that works out...[​IMG]
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Open air coops work ok in the sorta-north if they are DEEP, or further north if you plastic-cover the mesh side(s). The first person I knew with chickens when I moved to ON (this was before i had chickens myself) kept them in a sort of old-style type shed with a fully mesh front, which she covered with plastic for the winter and said her hens did fine that way with no supplemental heat. (It gets to -30C and colder here).

    If you plastic-cover the mesh wall -- and you really should if you are in a cold site and/or this is a backyard-y sized coop rather than a big 100+-hen old commercial building -- make real sure you've designed in good workable wintertime ventilation. The best thing IMO is to have areas high on the walls, preferably protected under the roof overhang, with adjustable flaps so you can wholly or partly close some or all of them off. See my ventilation page (link in .sig below) for more on the subject.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. snowchickens

    snowchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 4, 2009
    Hillsboro,NH
    I have covered the mesh front with an outdoor type fabric..blocks wind, but without holding in humidity. My husband added two very small vents at the top of the coop..Our coop looks like a small airplane hanger..The vent were added because on some days..quite cold ones, I noticed some condensation on the walls of the coop. So the fabric is definitely doing something. I let my chickens out every day because on the day of our first snowstorm back in Dec., one started pulling feathers and it just continues..I've tried everything! REALLY!!..Now I'm starting to question the coop design. We designed "by the books" but it is small. They are heavy breeds..seven of them , all different. Although I light the woodstove on very cold days, my birds have gotten frostbitten. I am heartbroken..I tried the vaseline...I hear more bad things happening with a heated coop than not..but how common is it for chickens to get frostbitten in the first winter, and then not to get frostbitten in subsequent winters? Everyone seems ok, they are laying..except for the Americauna..and the frostbite healed very well..Is this why they are pecking each other? They seem to have gotten the frostbite while just poking around the yard ..these are not birds that "look" cold ..they have a compost pile to scratch around in and shelter is always available to them..this winter has been so stressful in worrying about them...by the way..I started using peat moss as a ground cover in our run...and the chickens LOVE IT!!! -I do get funny looks at Agway when I ask for Peat Moss in Feb...lol....
     

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