Questions on Building a New Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by fasschicks, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chirping

    Sep 10, 2013
    South Central Wisconsin
    My husband and I are just diving into the wonderful world of chickens. We are starting to build our coop/run area and I have questions regarding the coop. We live in Wisconsin, so the winters get quite chilly and can have quite a bit of snow sometimes. We plan on using a similar format to the Wichita Cabin Coop plans if anyone is familiar with it.

    My husband works in construction and there are always extra materials being thrown out. So, we are going to build our coop with old deck boards he salvaged from a remodel. He also worked on a industrial building project (recycling center, no less) and they had left over heavy-duty steel siding. We figured we could get our coop built with the old deck boards and realizing that there will be gaps, we figured we could put the steel siding on the outside to give it a nice finished look and to seal up the gaps/drafts. We plan to use the steel siding as our roofing material also on the coop and run. Hopefully almost 80% of this project can be used with recycled materials.

    So, my first question is, if we box out the coop in old deck boards and cover with steel siding, will that cause the coop to be too warm in the summer or not enough ventilation in the winter? We plan to put the ventilation holes in the roof peek (front and back), so I was hoping it would be "just right"? We plan to put 2 windows for ventilation in the spring/summer/fall (1 on the door and 1 above the nesting boxes).

    So, this leads me to my next question. DH has had this large window (double paned - no screen, taken out of a house) sitting in our garage and he thinks that is a perfect thing to put on the back side of the coop (right where they are roosting at night). If I were to guess the size, it would be about 4'x3' and our coop is going to be 6'x6'. To me it doesn't seem like a good idea, but our coop will be at the edge of our woods and the large window will be facing into our small woods protected from the wind. In my gut it just feels like it is inviting trouble to have this big "picture window" with 4-6 birds sitting on their roost all night. He feels that it will let more light in during the winter, but I almost think that it might make it colder - even though it is double-paned? Also, I am not sure if the chickens would prefer to have it darker in there. I plan to add extra light during the winter to keep their egg laying somewhat on track.

    I would appreciate any thoughts, experience, etc. on this matter. I want to make this coop right the first time. Thanks!

  2. jetdog

    jetdog Songster

    Jun 18, 2013
    Just when you think you have enough ventilation add more lets the heat out and in the winter lets out moisture, the window sounds like a good idea I have heard people installing them backwards so they can open it from outside I would cover the inside with hardware cloth to keep everything out.The sun will warm it up a bit and why not take advantage of it.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    What you want for ventilation in the winter is openings above their heads when they are sleeping. Ammonia is generated from their poop. Ammonia is dangerous to their respiratory system and is lighter than air. An opening above their heads lets it out before it builds up.

    Another danger is frostbite. Chickens can handle really cold temperatures but if the air is moist, that can lead to frostbite. The moisture comes from their breath and the poop. Warm air rises and holds more moisture than cold air. I don’t know how big or how many holes you are talking about, but a decent breeze won’t hurt as long as it is over their heads. Many people in really cold climates have reported they cured frostbite problems by providing more ventilation over their heads in the winter. Don’t be afraid to open it up a bit.

    In the summer the more ventilation the better. It doesn’t matter if a breeze is hitting them on the roost.

    That window sounds great. You’ll probably find that a roosting place near that window with a view is prime sleeping space.

    Here are some articles that I think might help you. Pat was in Ontario when she wrote them.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
  4. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    Sounds like my kind of construction. Good plan, Wendy.
    The walls of 2 of my pens are 14x4 metal roofing sheets stuck in the ground. Talk about predator proof...

    Steel over the wood is overkill, IMO. Don't gap the the boards like you do on a deck, butt them tightly, or lapping them like siding would look cool. Save the metal for the pen or run, it also makes great doors & gates. But to answer your ? steel over wood wouldn't drastically affect the temperature either way.

    I don't think the window facing the woods over roosting birds is a good idea either. That the same as hanging a FREE BUFFET-PREDATORS WELCOME sign. Course the preds couldn't get through the window, but it would get their attention and get them hanging around looking for other ways to get in. Plus it would make the wall harder to build because the would need special framing on each side and top & bottom of the window. Basically you'd have a glass wall with little short 1' pieces of deck board on each side and would look out of proportion with the rest of the coop, especially after you installed trim board around the window. The other 2 windows will be plenty, and yes the chickens want it dark in there.
    6x6 coop isn't very big anyway. Do the chicken math. You know you'll want more chickens! If enough is good, more is better.
  5. farmgirlroots

    farmgirlroots Chirping

    Apr 20, 2013
    My Coop
    Regardless of where you put the window, I agree with the suggestion to make it a venting one. Maybe attach with hinges and it can be tipped out for more airflow or closed and latched in winter. I'd also line the opening with hardware cloth on the inside for double protection. My girls have a window right at roost level and they seem to really like it. They always position themselves on the roost so they can see out.
  6. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chirping

    Sep 10, 2013
    South Central Wisconsin
    Thank you all for the great suggestions and recommendations. According to our township/county rules, we cannot have more than 6 chicken, so that will definitely put a cap on my flock. Otherwise, I would be one of those that just kept adding new ones. [​IMG]

    The tips you all gave were great and love the links. This is certainly more info. than I could even think up myself, but it is all very helpful! Thanks!

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