Small coop ventilation/winterizing suggestions needed?

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

  1. Rhoise

    Rhoise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello Folks,
    Last night was the first hard freeze my coop and pullets have experienced. you can see the window in the front, I have a Plexiglas insert that slides in gulliteen style, as does the door going out to the run. Both of these I close at night, for safety and drafts.

    When I went out before dawn as usual to let the ladies out this morning, I noticed in the far back left corner of the inside of the coop, on the metal roof, there was a small ammount of frost forming around where the lights exit to the outside of the coop through the corrugated roof gaps.

    At this time the only ventilation at night is through the gaps in the roof (you can see they are small). Because of the small size of the coop, and the location of the roosts, I am wondering first, if I should vent more?, and 2nd how and where should I vent?

    I am open for suggestions for wintering. I also plan on changing roosts to 2x4's and have used Fred's idea of heated dog bowls with plastic ice cream pail inserts for ease of cleaning.

    Also, I am wondering about how much of the outside run to cover, and with what?... plastic, wood, clear roofing material? I found polycarbonate sun porch roofing in a 12ft x 28" sheet that would cover the back side where the rain flows off the roof, and some gets into the run when it splashes on the rocks.

    Also thinking about covering the right hand end with wood or something, and leaving the front south side and left end open as is?

    Boise temps can be in the 20's or lower at night, it snows a bit but mostly melts off in a few days. Dryer and not as cold as New England winters, but I do want to be prepared for the worst if need be....

    Suggestions welcome!!
    Thanks, Julie


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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  2. So long as the coop isn't super moist feeling, or smells like ammonia, then you don't need to ventilate more. There will always be a little bit of frost.

    I would only put a tarp over it. If it only gets around low 20s you should be OK.


    Just me :}
     
  3. Rhoise

    Rhoise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 26, 2012
    Boise, Idaho
    Thanks for responding, there wasn't a whole lot of moisture, just a thin layer in that back corner and the coop is very dry and odor free.

    I love the zeolite as litter, I just scoop it in the morning when I let the girls out to eat and good to go.

    I thought of mabey putting soffet vents on the side up near the front top corners, but will wait and see if it stays dry enough. Because the coop is so small, I don't want it to be drafty on the roosts.

    I did see some cool little cup vents, but Idealy, a roof vent I think would be best, we don't get alot of snow, and I also could very easily clear it if need be. I am just reluctant to put a hole in my nice metal roof!!
     
  4. Gifa

    Gifa Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am having a bizarre humidity issue with my coop. It's 37 degrees at the moment, and headed to a 28 degree low in the morning. The current humidity level outside is supposedly 67%.

    I have one of those Accurite thermometer/hygrometer combo dealies set up in the south facing window area of my coop. Earlier in the day it was reading between 45% and 50% while the chickens were up and outside.

    So tonight, the south facing window was closed, latched down pretty tight. I had the window on the north facing side of my coop (in the run) fully propped out. The east facing window is down, but it's just hanging there and not actually latched down.
    There are two vents in the west wall of the coop that are open, and the entire roof slopes up and should be letting the warmer air rise up and out of the coop through the soffit area, which for all intents and purposes are just giant soffit vents... I "should" have more than enough enough ventilation... and yet... I just went out to check on it, and it's almost at 90% humidity in there! What?!


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    I held my hand inside the coop and did not detect any noticeable humidity difference from the outside air... There was no condensation on the plexi, as I would expect there to be with nearly 90% humidity on a 37 degree window. I scoop the nightly doo from my coop daily, and am using Stall Dry and wood pellets that have been allowed to crumble to sawdust as the bedding. I don't even keep any water in the coop (took it out a week ago, they never really drank out of it anyway)

    So my instinct is to reject the accuracy of the hygrometer. But I went ahead and propped out all of the windows and will be running out there in another half an hour or so (at 1am) to check on it and see if that made a difference.

    Thoughts?


    E.T.A. - Yeah... no way... I just checked it again... it's reading 95%. That thing's garbage. I don't believe that. If it was actually 95% humidity inside my coop, it should have fog just rolling out of it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  5. hoorayfortulips

    hoorayfortulips Out Of The Brooder

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    Posting to see if anyone else might have more opinions. I am also wondering about "winterizing" since this is our first winter. Our coop is similar to Rhoise's except the top foot above the hen house is all mesh - no wood siding or ceiling other than the roof which is about a foot above the house. Very ventilated, but I'm wondering if we need to stuff some plywood in there to create a winter ceiling for the hen house. The lowest I've ever seen it here is 11 deg, and most of the winter its in the 40s. If I don't have to add more, I'd rather not. Love to hear some more opinions...

    I'm no humidity or chicken expert, but have this to offer...
    Rhoise - based on all the ventilation stuff I read, I'd think you don't have enough in there with just those little holes at the roof. Hopefully your nose and chickens would tell you if you need more.

    Gifa - I'm picturing your girls curiously bunched around your new meter going "huh huh huh" trying to fog it up!


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  6. hoorayfortulips

    hoorayfortulips Out Of The Brooder

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    Rhoise - not sure if you read this one, but it gets referenced a lot on BYC.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    Seems like the hard part with a small coop or hen house, is that there's almost always going to be some draft on the roost if the pop door is open. Hard to figure out how to juggle small space, lots of ventilation and no drafts on the roost. Just not enough room to separate it all. I'm not very interested in shutting the pop door every night, so I'm hoping the old fashioned idea that they are chickens and have lived well for eons in much colder conditions than we get here will hold true this year too.
     
  7. Gifa

    Gifa Chillin' With My Peeps


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  8. karlamaria

    karlamaria Chillin' With My Peeps

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    both coops are great, on the small side for what 6 birds ? but I did this to my pen so it stayed warmer and kept snow and rain out.
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  9. I love your coop. Very nice! Im in Co we've already had 10 degrees during the day. My coop is an old dog kennel that we insulated when the dogs got too old. I leave all the windows open all the time. I don't heat or light. The old timers tell me my chickens will be healthier because of this. The coop is usually a l ittle warmer than the outside or a little cooler in the summer. Last week with 10 degrees outt side and 15 degrees inside they were unconcerned by the temp. All good. Ventilation is more important than heat. Chickens are often helathier in a tree than a coop. Keep that in mind. Good job on the super nice coop!
     
  10. Rhoise

    Rhoise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 26, 2012
    Boise, Idaho
    Yes true! I grew up in NE and it was alot colder and more humid, our poor chickens would swing in the tops of our 100 foot white pines at night, and freeze their combs off!

    Here in Boise the heat this summer was brutal! The rope lights in the coop are for my convenience, and to lengthen the daylight hours for eggs, they don't heat the coop at all. I am paranoid about raccoons here where I live, so lock em up tight at night. The front window may be too open in a wind, rain, or snow, so I'm thinking a few soffit vents, or possible roof vent. I think I'll wait it out and see if moisture is an issue before i start drilling holes in stuff.

    So far dry as a bone inside, just a bit of frost in that back corner, but not enough to drip condensation yet. Today was foggy and rainy all day and cooling off tonight so we'll see how it goes.....Thanks for the compliments!! I have too many chickens for such a small coop, thought three were roosters, and all turned out to be hens. We had 9 now down to 7, we let them out in the yard for several hours a day, and so far everyone is getting along great, and laying up a storm. I just bought some clear polycarbonate roofing material to put around the bottom 36" of the coop to keep out the wet and snow, so hope this is enough. I'm gonna start with the back and right end, and continue around the whole coop as the weather gets worse. So far everything is dry and the chickens seem super healthy!
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