Urgent - how much ventilation in sub-freezing temps

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Gypsi, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Gypsi

    Gypsi Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm in North Texas. For the first time since they became hens my birds are in their coop, not on the roost in the run, and they are already looking cold. Temp won't clear freezing til Friday, and we have high wind.

    I put big windows on the sides for ventilation in the summer, 3 inch high wide windows up near the peek, (all covered with hardware cloth.) And the pop-door has never had a door. Additionally I have venting under the eaves. I've got to close this up, they probably aren't on the roost in the coop because of the draft from the big east west windows, which I am about to cover. Question - should I cover the north-south windows under the eaves as well, and the pop door that faces north? I can put a hanging flap over it of pond liner. HELP!!!!
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    The issue is not the temperature per se, it's that they need to be able to get pretty-totally out of the wind, at that sort of temperatures.

    If it were me, I would cover everything upwind and probably alongside-the-wind too, leaving only truly downwind stuff open. Then stand in there and see how it feels. If it is still drafty, consider (with caution) closing the downwind stuff too (totally or just partly), while doing whatever you can to remove any damp bedding and poo and replace with fresh dry stuff. Then reopen more vents as soon as weather permits.

    A staplegun and heavy (like 6 mil) plastic or opened-out feedbags can be useful, or better yet screw battens of scrap wood on that sandwich the plastic or etc between the batten and the coop wood. Stretch it tight so it does not flap, and don't leave flappy loose edges for the wind to pull at. Spaces under eaves or roof panel corrugations can often be stuffed with old crumpled feedbags/newspapers/rags/whatever, or something staplegunned over the entire area, depending on your construction. As long as your coop is large for the number of birds, it is ok to leave them locked in (popdoor closed) for a day or two if you *must*, but it might be a good idea to cut a second popdoor in the more-usually-downwind side for future use.

    Below freezing is not such a problem per se, especially if the air is not super humid, unless you have unusually vulnerable breeds (white faced black spanish, that sort of thing). WIND though is a problem.

    Good luck, "have fun",

    Pat, gonna get a big dump o' snow tonight and tomorrow but not as much as some folks
     
  3. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Leave some ventilation no matter what. Sub-freezing is nothing for chooks unless they are a warm-climate only breed. What you want is no draft at roost height in cold weather. You do NOT want an air-tight coop or anything close to it. Coop humidity is to be kept as low as possible. The dryer the better. See 'My BYC Page' for ventilation tips.

    Gerry
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you so much. I covered the big windows. Because the coop is just east of a tall wide shed, the west window wasn't getting close to full wind when I covered. Which is good, because I don't know if that plexiglass is going to hold up. Stapled 45 mil rubber over the big east window over the nest boxes, and took them some water in a small jar waterer, easy to change out as it freezes, and they seem to be feeling much better already. We go to 9 degrees tonight. Going to cover the north vent window, and probably stuff a feed bag in the eaves on the east side. Will leave west side eaves (shed protects them), north side pop door (roost is higher), and south vent window open. Hopefully that will be the best balance. The silly birds have been sleeping on the roost in the run at 17 degrees up until now, refusing to sleep in the coop (which does have a nice 5 ft roost). I think the wind ran them in. So hopefully, this will give them the best of both worlds. I can check on them regularly until the freeze breaks. Will check back in after I deal with the east eaves... Thanks again.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Consider a sheet of plywood (or any other sheet good) temporarily screwed over it, or at least a coupla scrap 2x4s screwed across the window on the inside of the coop?

    One extra thing you could do for them, is in case they do feel cold (9 is not cold for northern chickens but if yours are not used to it then it could be a problematic surprise I suppose) pile a DEEP (like, 1-2') pile of bedding in the most draft-free corner, so that if they want they can snuggle into that instead of roosting. And throw them an extra handful of scratch or cracked corn if you have it. Really though the big thing is that you've taken care of the wind. I betcha they'll be fine [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  6. Gypsi

    Gypsi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Consider a sheet of plywood (or any other sheet good) temporarily screwed over it, or at least a coupla scrap 2x4s screwed across the window on the inside of the coop?

    One extra thing you could do for them, is in case they do feel cold (9 is not cold for northern chickens but if yours are not used to it then it could be a problematic surprise I suppose) pile a DEEP (like, 1-2') pile of bedding in the most draft-free corner, so that if they want they can snuggle into that instead of roosting. And throw them an extra handful of scratch or cracked corn if you have it. Really though the big thing is that you've taken care of the wind. I betcha they'll be fine [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat

    Thanks Pat. I did a re-think while I was out there. I have more scrap 45 mil epdm than lumber or anything else, so I strapped the plexiglass with 3 pieces, and stapled a triangle over the corner that broke when I was trying to screw it on. North and east vents are covered, south upper vent and west eaves vent are open. I blocked about 1/3 of my wide popdoor with pond-liner stapled top bottom and side, then hung a t-shirt door over the rest of the pop door, slows the wind but breathes. My BYC page may or may not have pics of my first coop, nicknamed the "brooder" after I found out how big my birds would get, lumber frame, 45 mil liner on a couple of sides, plywood on one, and a t-shirt door. Old t-shirts, I have lots of. Texas winters come in 3 day bursts. There is at least one accidental vent on the left door of the coop, but it's narrow, and while I could be sure it doesn't leak, a tiny bit of ventilation on that northeast corner might be a good thing. They aren't used to being in close confines

    I figure the fabric will breathe enough, the birds can push out if they want to. They figured that out when they were cute little pullets, but I had to come home to open the "door" to let them in at night, and they all trooped up the ladder in single file... they were so cute.)
    I think Production Reds are ok up north - I'm sure the barred rocks are, so they will hopefully be ok. They are happy, the floor of their coop has plenty of straw they've tossed out of the nest boxes, the rest of the floor is covered with food. Except for eating or laying, they haven't spent much time in the coop since I added the 4 tier roost to the run. They LOVE it...lots of breeze, laid eggs all thru the summer last year, when it was too hot for most hens I hear.

    Fingers crossed, now I have to block the wind out of my garage. The snow and ice and wind pushed the door in to the limit of its mounting, making my beautiful vinyl windblock useless, I can see an inch of daylight on each side..... Wonder how many old tshirts I have left.
     
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yes, that's it, exactly. Before this front blew in yesterday, daytime temps had been in the mid 70's with nighttime lows in the upper 40's and 50's. So, yeah, this is a big shock to everybody. I've been living here in Dallas since 1984 and I can only remember one or two times that we've had weather in the single digits.
     
  8. Gypsi

    Gypsi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well, the hens definitely went IN THE COOP for something besides eating or to lay an egg, so they are finding the colder temps shocking. I do have a heat lamp, but am not sure if it will be needed. There are 6 hot little hens in there, I took off my glove and checked air temp when the wind was biting through me earlier, and it was quite pleasant in the roost area of the coop. (after I blocked the wind) I'd put a thermometer in there, but I'm pretty sure they'd try to eat it.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:[​IMG]

    A man at my church asked what my chickens eat. I said whatever is not nailed down! [​IMG]

    gerry [​IMG]
     
  10. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I only have ventilation under the eaves and my chickens do fine in sub-zero weather even. See my BYC page for good weather Coop/run pics.

    [​IMG]
     

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