Ventilation concerns


Dec 9, 2016
Liberty, Mo
Hello! So I am going into my first winter with chickens. We have had our first cold spell and good snow here in Kansas City, MO and I have some ventilation concerns and am in need of advice. So first let me say that this coop is the first thing I have ever built besides a flower box in high school. It is 6’x8’ and about 6’ tall. I have a mixed flock of 8. Earlier this week I noticed one of them has a little frostbite on her comb. She is a Rhode Island Red. It’s not super bad by any means but still a concern. That night it was in the teens. Our climate here is very up and down. We typically will have a week or two in low single digits dropping below zero at night once or twice a winter as well as a nice weeks in the 50s and 60s. We sit at about 60% humidity as well. We get snow just not constantly. Every few years we get dumped on with a good 8-12” at once and other years maybe 5” total.

So the coop sits on the ground on concrete blocks with 2x6 floor joist and a plywood floor covered with vinyl. It is modeled after the coop from the show fixer upper it you know what I’m talking about. The extirior walls are 2x4 framing on close to 16” centers. They are covered in the cheapest plywood I could find which I regret. Then I have cedar shakes nailed in to that as siding. I did cover the plywood with a moister blocker before the shakes went on. I have 2 windows opposite of each other that I made myself out of glass panes and tongue and groove pieces that are siliconed together with some added support in the back. One is 8x10” I think and the other is around 24x36”. They are attached by henges at the top. The small one faces northwest and the big one southeast. I also have a long vent that runs the 6’ side of the coop over the nest boxes. It is 2-3” wide and isn’t covered very much. Last night I cut a new vent under the roost on the northeast side. It is 15” wide x 5 1/2” tall. I am going to put a cover on it soon to block any wide that could blow in. I also cut a section out of the plywood under the roof between 2 rafters in the peak. It is about 15” wide and 5” tall on each side. The ridge cap covers it so there is only about a half inch gap at most between the ridge cap and the metal of the roof but it does span the 6’ that ridge cap runs but 5ish feet of that is covered by plywood on the inside. As far as drafts the coop is not too bad. Air does leak through the window trip but I plan to caulk around that. Then possibly get some sort of weather stripping for when I close the windows. The big vent above the nest boxes does cause a draft but it is pretty high up. The new vents also have a draft but the lower one I have a solution to and the roof shouldn’t be an issue at the roost. Other than that nothing to big as far as major air movement in there.

So my question is do I need to add more vents. I could add more by the roost on the northeast side. Could be top or bottom of that wall but if it’s on top then it would be level with the roost. I could also cut the plywood under the ridge cap along the whole peak but I’m not sure if that will actually give more ventilation. Any help or advice would be great!
Here are pictures as well.

The large vent above the nest boxes is just above the lower tier of the roof

The large vent from inside

The small window. Roost are to the right and about level with the bottom of the window

Big window

Vent under the roost. Outside first the inside


The whole from the plywood underneath the ridge cap

Once again any help would be great!
I'd close up the vent in the winter under the roost ...

I'd monitor how things go in the next week or two, to see how your modifications improve things ...

A good indicator of a bad situation is frost on the inside of the coop ...
It is closed now until I can put a cover on it. I am planning on a cover similar to a dryer vent. Open only on the bottom with the top and sides covered
Looks pretty good to me.
Maybe add some louvered vents at gables.

Have you measured the humidity inside and outside coop?
They should be pretty much the same.
I would only be concerned with adding more vents if humidity inside is ~10+% more inside than outside.

Have you stood inside of coop, with people door closed, on a really windy day to ascertain the air flow?

Pic of suspected frostbite, please?
Sometimes it is unavoidable if you live in a humid climate.
Yes I have a humility meter inside the coop that I can move in and out. It’s about the same. Sitting around the 80s. It has been very rainy the last few days so it’s normally in the 60-70% range outside.

With the door closed it’s typically pretty still in there unless the wind is blowing straight at that upper vent above the nest boxes. Then there is movement at my head level. When it snowed last Sunday we had blizzard conditions due to high wind. Snow did get in the coop around the windows and through the vent above the nest boxes. So I plan to caulk around the windows and seal them better.

The frostbite was hard to get a pic of but here is the best one I have.

and through the vent above the nest boxes
This vent?
You can add a 'damper...piece of cardboard(or something) tacked to bottom of rafters to direct air up higher....kinda like this:

Not sure that's frostbite...might be a chicken bite scab...but those big floppy combs are bound to get bit.
The damper is what I was thinking too. I also might use cardboard as makeshift insulation throughout the coop this winter too. Take it down in spring. It definitely could be bite marks. She is midway down the pecking order.

Yes they are cedar shingles.
Cute house. My coop had frost in mine no frostbite but I winterized according to recommendations of other owners and poultry vet. I closed my windows for winter and taped plastic over them. I left my top vent open as high near roof but like the idea of draft protection since you may have harsh winters. I put curtains inside my coop over the window as also adds draft protection and well just looks cute. Same for coop pop door or you could put up split plastic over pop door to protect from drafts. I too watch temp and humidity. I added a K and H heat pad that is fire proof inside my coop to protect against frostbite and keep on once below 30 degrees as once below 30 degrees frostbite is a risk. I keep run covered/weather protected and layered straw outside my coop/run area to protect feet from frostbite and adds warmth. Now my coop does not frost.

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