Ventilated but Free of Drafts

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Bubsiesmom, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. Bubsiesmom

    Bubsiesmom New Egg

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    Hello Everyone,

    Could someone give me concise information on what a well ventilated coop yet free of drafts really entails? I have a henhouse that has two roosts, two nesting boxes and two little doors. Above one of the roosts there is a whole about the size of a coffee mug that the people before me used to have a heat lamp. I don't want to use the lamp this year. I want to seal up that hole since it is adjacent to the roost. There is a large one inch gap about 6 inches long on either side of the floor by the little door. If i seal all this up than how to I ventilate?? Thanks !!
    Bubsiesmom
     
  2. Bubsiesmom

    Bubsiesmom New Egg

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    yes i know i spelled "hole" wrong . not enough coffee yet
     
  3. cricketmt

    cricketmt Out Of The Brooder

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    What I have read indicates that you want ventilation, the higher up on the coop, the better, in order to reduce humidity levels inside the coop. You don't want drafts on the roost area, but ventilation is critical. there are some tips elsewhere on BYC. We have under the eaves on both sides of our coop (8 feet on each side) ventilated with just hardware cloth. About 4 inches just under each side. I've blocked those on the west side just above the roost, for winter. Otherwise they're open.

    I'm still trying to determine how cold I'll "allow". We have a ceramic reptile style heater hooked to a thermal block so there'll be a warm spot when it drops to 35 in the coop....but I don't know how cold too cold is.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    That’s a good question and, as usual, there are different ways to answer. I’ll assume you know why you need ventilation and no breezes hitting them. I purposely said breezes, not drafts. A draft is when you hold a candle next to a window to see if there is a tiny bit of air movement. That’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about a breeze strong enough to ruffle their feathers. That kind of draft from a window is good. It moves bad air out and good air in.

    I don’t know where you are so I don’t know what kind of temperatures you are dealing with so I can’t get real specific.

    JackE likes to push the Woods Coop design. That’s a very specialized design where the front is pretty much open and there is another opening up high so you get any breezes in the lower opening and flowing out the upper opening while the back of the coop where the roosts are sees only gentle air movement. That works up in Canada if it’s built right.

    In the winter if you really have cold temperatures to deal with, I really like openings up high over their heads when they are on the roosts. If you have more than one opening up high and a breeze is blowing, that goes over their heads yet creates enough gentle turbulence to stir up the air and replace bad air with good. On a calm day, whether you have one or more openings, you still get air movement. Warm air rises. Warmth is being generated inside the coop from their body heat, breathing, warm poop, thawed or even heated water, and if the coop is on the ground the ground is warmer than the air during a cold snap. That warmth is enough to create air movement with just openings up high.

    Another reason for openings up high is that, if it is not frozen, their poop generates ammonia as it decomposes. Ammonia is lighter than air and is hard on their respiratory systems. Since it is lighter than air, gravity forces ammonia to rise and replaces it with heavier fresh air from outside, even just with openings up high. You do not need openings down low to get air movement.

    Your biggest danger from the cold is not them freezing to death, it’s frostbite. Frostbite is possible anytime the air temperature is below freezing, but with good ventilation and no breezes hitting them chickens can handle temperatures below zero Fahrenheit without getting frostbite. Mine do. A big contributor to frostbite is dampness, excess moisture. Ventilation gets rid of excess moisture. People as far south as Georgia have caused their chickens to suffer from frostbite by closing the coop up too tightly while some chickens sleep in trees in upper Michigan or even in Canada during the winter as long as they can stay out of breezes. It’s hard to get too much ventilation as long as you keep breezes off of them.

    I don’t know what your coop looks like or your climate. Openings at the top of walls under overhangs can move a lot of air. Gable vents, roof vents or cupolas are good. Ridge vents work great as long as you don’t get enough snow to block them.

    Whenever you create a hole in your coop remember predator protection.
     
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  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Remember that the high openings are closed in winter..... precisely to keep breezes from moving thru the coop.
    The big front remains open all winter allowing some air movement inside.
     
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  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Good point, thank you. I have not studied the details of the Woods coop, just know they work.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    No prob.
    That especially, and the proportions of the building size, are critical to the concept functionality.
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Think of being in a car with a bunch of people in cold weather without the heat on. Almost immediately the moisuture begins to build up on the windows. This warm air condenses because it is in contact with the cooler window or wall inside a coop. That is damp, and that is what happens in a too small, too tight of coop with chickens. Damp chickens are cold chickens.

    You do not give the dimensions or the number of birds, but I suggest you go out and measure how far your birds are away from the wall or from the ceiling of the coop, they should be a foot away from the wall, and their heads need to be about 15-18 inches below the ceiling when roosting. This keeps the moisture away from them, and allows the ventilation to move out the wet, moist air, keeping them dry. Dry feathers are very warm, and they should get through well below zero (as in -25) with no problem with plenty of feed.

    Most of us in the beginning, think we want to keep our chickens warm in the very cold winter weather. We have been taught since children to keep the openings sealed up tight to trap heat inside our homes. It seems so counter intuitive to open up the coop to keep it warm. Instead of thinking warm, think DRY. You need good bedding that can absorb moisture, and you need openings that allow the moist air to escape along with the ammonia. And you needs adequate space between the birds and the walls and the ceiling. Too small of coop will make for wet chickens.

    What you need is protection from the wind, but still allow air currents, you want movement of air. Hence free of drafts but well ventilated, which took me forever to figure out, and I got a bit of frostbite till I did.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  9. cricketmt

    cricketmt Out Of The Brooder

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    Great description, thank you!
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I love the car/humidity analogy!!
    Something everyone has experienced <snickers, in highschool> and can relate too.
     

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