Vent or Temp?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Coveacres, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Coveacres

    Coveacres Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 10, 2012
    Ellensburg, WA
    I'm currently raising 30 hens (4 month old Barred Rocks) in my new coop (12x16), but am having an issue balancing my ventalation/humidity with desired temps. My coop ranges from 40 at night to mid 60s during the day (central washington). Outside temps are about 20 degrees lower than the coop. During the day I open three installed windows for airflow and then close them again after dark to keep the coop warm. The problem I am facing is that by morning the coop is humid enough to have moisture on the walls and smells lightly of ammonia.

    My question is should I leave a window open at night (letting the coop temp drop to freezing levels) or continue as is. I just placed an order for diatomactious earth to add to my pine litter and expect this problem to be solved permanently once the ground is warm enough for me to finish the large run that didnt get done as expected, thus allowing them out of the coop during the day, but for now the birds are inside the coop 24/7 and I have far too many predators to let them roam the pasture during the day. They are not full grown and a few have just started laying so my goal was to keep the coop no lower than 40 degrees.

    Keep it above 40 with some night time humidity, or vent it at night and allow it to drop to freezing?
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    This is the reality. By the time one "buttons up" the coop enough to hold heat in, that same "buttoning up" will also hold humidity, ie, moisture and gasses, which is unhealthy in countless ways.

    Folks are using completely open front coop designs, in wintery climates My own barn is designed for maximum air flow through the upper rafters. Yes, this by design, exchanges the air continually. Yes, the barn coop is only a few degrees warmer than the ambient, outside air temperature. If it is -5 outside, it is around 0 inside. I see this as a good thing. I am not concerned about the temperature, as the birds easily adjust.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  3. ontimeborzoi

    ontimeborzoi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2008
    Northern Neck of Va
    Vent the coop. The chickens do not need to be kept warm, they have their very own down coats on. Humidity in the coop is the the worst thing.
    Its hard to get past thinking about what would make US comfortable!
    I'm one of those with an open front coop and I would never go back to the old closed up style.
  4. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2011
    Springfield, Ohio
    Choose draft-free ventilation over temperature, always. Unless you provide heat, the temperature in even an insulated coop will dip below freezing. In a sealed coop, this will lead to frosted combs, and the coop will begin to hold even more water through frost buildup. Then, when temps warm up you will start to have new problems.
  5. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    My husband thought I was crazy to want the upper 6" of the walls to be wire instead of wood but now that the coop is oh-so-dry, he's no longer questioning that decision or wanting to cover it up for winter. I have some chickens with big, single combs and we've had no frostbite here even when it rained hard all day and then dropped into the 20s overnight.

    So yes, I vote for ventilation over heat. They'll fluff their feathers, sleep near each other, and be healthier for it.
  6. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2011
    Fort Worth
    Now your talking! Open that coop up so they can breathe! Keep em out of the wind and rain and they will be fine. Ventilation Ventilation Ventilation Ventilation
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  7. Coveacres

    Coveacres Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 10, 2012
    Ellensburg, WA
    Thanks for the help. Currently the windows would allow it to be drafty, but I pre-cut a 6 inch roof vent that is full length so I will install the vent cap this weekend and open it up.

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