Ventilation and drafts...how to have one without the other in winter??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by my first peepers, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. my first peepers

    my first peepers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2008
    South Western VT
    I keep reading here about how important ventilation is in winter but at the same time how bad drafts are...how do you have one without the other?
    My coop is 4x4, 6' tall, sloping to 5' something. There is the chicken door, human door and two glass windows (about 2'x3' each) that open out and up. Where the top of the wall meets the eaves on the slanting sides there is about a 1" gap that I was planning to cover with trim before winter. The coop is not insulated, I was planning to put plastic over the windows in cold weather. I'm wondering if I should leave that gap at the top open for ventilation? Will that be too much draft or is it high enough above them that it won't be a problem? I have 5 chickens, a small run but they free range most of the day. I am counting on them being hardy Vermont chickens who will at least tolerate the snow (I know this might be wishful thinking).
    Thanks for any help or suggestions!
     
  2. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Quote:I think the best way install ventilaion box like the one you have on the top of your house comming up te bathroom.
     
  3. coffeelady3

    coffeelady3 Froths Milk for Hard Cash

    Jun 26, 2008
    Tacoma, WA
    The main thing with ventilation is to put it up high in the coop. That way the air will circulate to properly remove ammonia from the air. If it's too low then the wind will be blowing directly on the chickens and they won't be able to warm themselves.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Basically the way to have ventilation w/o winter drafts is to have the ventilation openings high up and not right above the roost, and if necessary protect the openings somewhat against the full force of strong winds (louvers, hoods, baffles, whatever - mainly relevant if coop is in very exposed windy location).

    The best thing to do is to build in plenty of ventilation openings (including, if at all possible, some high up on all 4 walls, ideally high up enough to be somewhat protected under the roof overhang) -- and make COVERS for them so you can shut down anything that's not needed at the moment. It is vastly easier to have and not use, than to need and not have [​IMG]

    I would not suggest a ventilator thru the roof like you would see on houses, at least not for most circumstances and CERTAINLY not as your sole or main ventilation -- they just do not permit enough airflow. You really need somewhere for air to go in, and another place for air to go out, and both need to be pretty good-sized (even if you shut some of it down some of the time).

    I would suggest several hinged flaps to cover that 1" slot, so that you can control how much of it is open; you can weatherstrip them if the chickens can't access the area (but don't narrow down the opening further with weatherstripping). I would really suggest also building one or two more ventilation openings, somewhere high up but *not* above the roost, because even if your 1" slot were continuous all the way around (which it won't be, because of rafters and so forth) that is only 1.3 square feet of vent area. Unless you also crack the windows open, which due to their location you may or may not be wantin' to do, I am concerned that has a good chance of being insufficient and leading to a damp coop interior and consequent problems.

    Generally it is much easier and less depressing to poke holes in the coop and build ventilation openings NOW, when you are still in the construction phase, than once it is all done and trimmed out and painted and occupied and it's a frosty morning in January [​IMG]

    JMHO,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2008
  5. morelcabin

    morelcabin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    You know I was havin converstaion with a contractor friend of ours, and I am really considering a whirlybird on the roof of my hen house. The air exchange with them is huge...it would take all the amonia smell out of the coop no problem, BUT on really cold nights we would have to put a stick in the side of it to stop it from sucking ALL the warm air out of the henhouse
     
  6. mistylady

    mistylady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 1, 2008
    Ohio near Coshocton
    We're still building our coop (the chickens live in the basement now). Hubby put a vent with wire mesh and flaps that are fixed up near the roof on the back wall in the triangluar part of the wall (I hope that makes sense). The part of the wall that only the two end pieces of the coop have. Hmmm ... I'm making it worse ... I'm sorry. Okay ..... there are windows on three walls and the vent on the back wall. The two walls are just rectangular with no peak and two wall have a triangular peak up at the roof. And I really don't think he'll create an airtight door. [​IMG]
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Biggest problem is that (as you mention) you have relatively little control over the amount of airflow. If it's windy, it's a lot; if it's still, not much. Also you need to make sure there are openings for air to come in that will not themselves produce a draft at chickens.

    I don't think it's really a particularly good bet for a typical small coop. JMHO of course,

    Pat
     
  8. my first peepers

    my first peepers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2008
    South Western VT
    Thank you for all of the ideas!
    Unfortunately, other than the trim I mentioned the coop is done, stained and occupied! I guess I will have to figure something out!
     
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I don't use ventilation to control ammonia in the coop. I add more litter. You might want to try that. Or possibly a change in litter, depending on what you are using.

    Chickens still need some fresh air coming in. They just don't need as large an amount for oxygen and humidity control, as they do if they're living with ammonia fumes, which are very bad for them.

    There are different ways to deal with various aspects of chicken and coop management. This is just a different way of dealing with one problem. For commercial operations, it's cheaper to blow more air through, than to pay for litter and someone to spread it. They also have the chickens packed in like sardines in a can. Backyard chickens are living in a different situation and their coop management is usually different than a large commercial operation.
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote::0

    I am sort of frightened by the concept of backyarders having ammonia problems in their coops. I guess maybe I have not seen enough backyard chicken coops (the wrong ones). If there are a significant number of people out there using ventilation primarily to control *ammonia*, I don't want to know about it.

    You still need a considerable amount of ventilation (depending on time of year and humidity of climate) at times to control HUMIDITY, which is what I tend to assume most people are mostly needing their ventilation for.

    <shrug>,

    Pat
     

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