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ventilation and insulation noobie questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by snakecharmer, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. snakecharmer

    snakecharmer Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
    Kansas City, KS
    I am totally new to this so i want to make sure I build our coop for happy birds. I have read quite a bit on ventilation but am still a little confused by the balance between ventilation vs. draft free. I also am not finding too much on insulation.

    Our coop is going to be 4' x6' outside dimension with 4' high 2x4 studded walls. the outside sheeting will either be plywood or that fiberboard siding stuff, whatever I can get cheaper. This is basically the design I am going with http://www.horizonstructures.com/coop.asp but I think I will go with a gabled roof with a 2' rise. I will have one large vent on the back wall above the roost bars just like that one has and windows in the front for summer but it is winter ventilation I am worries about. I figure I can put a couple of vents up high to keep any cros draft from blowing directly on the chickens. I was thinking about either a pair of regular plastic attic vents on the roof or a vent on each end wall near the roof peak. My concern is loosing too much heat since it will rise and go out the vents. So what would be best here and would either of these work well?

    And I am not sure if I should insulate or not and if so, what to use. Since the walls will be studded, I was thinking about using a roll of fiberglass I had left over from a home project and then paneling the interior so the hens cant get to it. Is this type of insulation OK or should I just leave it uninsulated. We live in Kansas City, KS so the weather is not generally extreme but definately dynamic. It is below freezing today and will be in the 60's and 70's the rest of the week:/ I think it got about 20 below for a couple of days this winter.
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:FWIW, I'm working on a 'winter temperatures in the coop' page that covers insulation, my kids have just kept me too busy lately to actually get it finished <g>

    I will have one large vent on the back wall above the roost bars just like that one has and windows in the front for summer but it is winter ventilation I am worries about. I figure I can put a couple of vents up high to keep any cros draft from blowing directly on the chickens.

    Small coops like that *are* a bit harder to winterize, because the surface area to volume ratio is so large and because practically anywhere you put air in *will* be right next to the chickens.

    My suggestion would be to put the roost crosswise in the coop at one end, and then vents at the top of all three walls at the opposite end of the coop from the roost. Does that make sense? So that you have a choice of which vent(s) to have open depending on the direction of the wind, and so that when a breeze comes in the vent(s) it is as far as possible from the sleeping chickens.

    (e.t.a. - this would be in addition to, not instead of, your sensible plan for warm-weather ventilation)

    If you can locate the coop somewhere nonwindy that would be best; otherwise you may want to think about rigging some sort(s) of windblocks or baffles for the vents.

    And I am not sure if I should insulate or not

    I would for sure suggest insulating. It makes it easier to keep the coop warmish despite your ventilation, which in a small coop makes it easier to balance air quality and temperature. At the very least, if you do not insulate now, leave things open so you CAN insulate if (when <g>) you change your mind.

    Since the walls will be studded, I was thinking about using a roll of fiberglass I had left over from a home project and then paneling the interior so the hens cant get to it.

    That will be just fine [​IMG]

    Have fun,

    Pat​
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009
  3. snakecharmer

    snakecharmer Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
    Kansas City, KS
    Quote:Well the problem there is that my layout is going to be very similar to the one in that link where I have nesting boxes on the front wall with the windows above, the pop door on one end and a people door on the other. Really only leaves the back wall for the roost which I planned a double teir 2x4 setup. I didnt really want to do any roosts on the ends because it would either end up in front of the people door or above the pop door and I figured that would probably be bad.

    I am still trying to decide how I want to situate it in the yard but the basic layout is a side yard probably 40x40ish that is shielded by the house on the east and by woods on the west and north. There is a tree on the south end of the yard and I figured I would put the coop just to the north of the tree for shade. I just haven't decided which wall I want to point south. If I put the front wall south, i am concerned I will get too much sun through the large windows in the summer. The rear wall pointing south I am thinking might be best because I could just close the large rear vents in the winter and hopefully the side vents would do the job without and real direct wind coming through them. I did kind of want the front wall with the windows facing the house though but am concerned about the south wind in the winter. If i were to put a removable wind break over the end vents, do you think that would allow adequate ventilation?
     
  4. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Pat has a lot of knowledge on ventilation and insulation. Heed her advice.

    During the design phase of my coop, I couldn't get my head around ventilation vs. heat loss. Because I live where it gets very cold for a very long time, I wanted to make sure I did it right. I decided on ridge-cap/soffet ventilation as well as close-able vents at the gables by the roofline. While I'm sure some of the heat does rise and escape, it always feels warmer than the temperature gauge tells me it is inside the coop. I think it's because there are no drafts. Even tho the temp says -0- it's never uncomfortable in there. There is no smell but the dust can get a little overwhelming at times. And my girls have not suffered any frostbite this year.

    PS - We bit the bullet and insulated our entire coop. No regrets. Especially at -20F.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Oh, ok, sorry I didn't look at the link the first time round (dialup laziness [​IMG]) but now I have.

    I'm not clear, are you building this yourself or buying the premade thing? If you are building it yourself, it would be easy enough to just rearrange the furnishings. You do not need all those nestboxes, also there is no real reason the roost can't go along the end that has the pophole (especially if you have a droppings board under the roost).

    If you have to go with the layout in that link, though (like for instance you are buying one), the easiest thing might be to remove the preinstalled roost and substitute a roost (or 2 parallel ones) that run diagonally in that corner, the right rear corner as you face the windowed side of the building. Then split the hinged vent cover so you can keep the half near the roof closed in winter. In fact if it were me I would split the far half in half *again*, so that I could open just the furthest portion on cold days.

    Oh, actually another alternative would be to make the pophole door through one of the nestboxes (!) since there are so darn many of them. That way there would be no conflict at *all* with the roost. Although you would still have to work the roost around the window a bit.

    Just tossing those out for consideration anyhow. It would *really* make it easier to manage your coop and keep chickens unfrostbitten if you can isolate the ventilaton to the far end of the coop.

    (I suppose if you have to use the coop exactly as pictured, you might site it so that the people door is on the usually-downwind side, and put a vent high on the people door. It would be better than nothing anyhow for cold snaps.)

    If I put the front wall south, i am concerned I will get too much sun through the large windows in the summer.

    I dunno, you can leave them open, and you can always run shadecloth over them.

    If i were to put a removable wind break over the end vents, do you think that would allow adequate ventilation?

    Probably, if you mean like a hood or some such thing.

    It looks like you have enough options you should be able to work something out. The more different vents you start with, the easier it will be to find some combination of things that will suit any given day's conditions [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  6. snakecharmer

    snakecharmer Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
    Kansas City, KS
    Thanks for the replies Pat. I think I am good at seeing things in my head but not so good at putting them into words so I am going to try to clear a couple of my ideas up.

    I am building the coop myself but patterning it after the one in the link for the most part. I want to have a gabled roof though. I actually only have the 4x6 base and legs built and plan to begin framing the walls this evening. So there is some room to change things. As far as the nesting boxes, I totally agree that there are way too many. Mine will actually only have 2 nesting boxes. I figured i would attach it like the one in the link only half as long. I am tossing around the idea of only having a single window above the nesting boxes and moving the people door to the area that would be occupied by the other window and larger nesting box in that design. If I did that, it would open up that one end wall for a roost if you think the roosts along the back wall are a bad idea.

    I think I am totally unclear on my preliminary venting plan so let me try to clarify that also. I definitely want the long vent up high on the back wall and it will be closable. I also want at least one window on the front wall that will also open and close as needed. For the ends walls, I was thinking of a single vent on each end as close to the peak of the gable as possible. I actually found some 16"x8" screened louver vents at the hardware store that I believe are attic or crawlspace vents. I could put one at each end or even 2 on top of each other to give a 16"x16" vent in each roof gable but I am not sure there will be enough height to do that and keep them above the 4' height of the main walls. I was thinking that being louvered, I could make them always open vents because the louvers would keep out rain and maybe some measure of wind as well. Do you think that would work? My original idea was to put about a 12x12 vent with a door at each end but I was thinking this might work better. I think I have decided to face the sides of the coop to the north and south unless there is some overwhelming reason not to.
     
  7. Superior Chicks

    Superior Chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have that exact coop, and even purchased from that vendor.

    We are in the process of insulating the coop with 1" foamboard, covered by Reflextix Tekfoil Double Bubble Insulation. There is an awesome amount of ventilation out the roof vents. I only encountered a problem when we had a blizzard with horizontal snow that blew in through those vents. Solution: I stuck foam insulation in there for the duration of the storm. Removeable of course. (BTW we have the metal roof model.)

    Other than that, it is a great planned out coop. The long vent that runs along the back of the coop can be made to be adjustable, and we have the coop placed so that this vent is on the leeward side of the coop so it is not very drafty at all.

    We only use two of the nest boxes. The others can be used for treats, food, etc. for the girls to occupy themselves with on days they can't (or won't[​IMG]) go outside.

    Overall I like it. Good luck on yours!

    HTH

    Ma
     
  8. snakecharmer

    snakecharmer Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
    Kansas City, KS
    Ok, little update here. I completely changed my original coop design plans. Truth is that I don't really go by plans in the normal sense so this happens. I just kind of start building something based on ehat I see in my head and kind of play it by ear. For whatever reason, I decided I wanted more of a miniature barn look than the shed look that I was originally going to go with. My dimensions are 4'x6' floor with 4' at the roof peak and 2' at either end of the main house. The inside height dimensions are about 4" shorter. I have 2 full length vents in the gabled roof for the main ventilation. I was originally going to put a couple of louvered vents at the front and back of the peaked roof but now I am thinking that is probably overkill. Do you think I should just forget those? Also, I was thinking about putting a small window on either side of the pop door. My plan was for a hinged plexi window so it could open in the summer and provide light in the winter. My question here is does it bother the hens to have a window that close to the nest boxes? The front of the house is on the north side though so they would not get any direct light. Would I be wise to maybe put a small south facing on that rear roof peak strictly for light?

    Here are a couple pictures of what I have so far so you can can visually see how it is laid out.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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