ventilation in nest boxes and hens' house -- and other questions...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by coloradonewbie, May 8, 2011.

  1. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi,

    I didn't have the wherewithal to take pics today, but I will try to get some posted by 11 AM in the morning (MST -- I'm in Boulder, CO).

    Before we paint and try to get the coop in the pen (which is going to take some weightlifting STRONG people), I was hoping to double check some of my concerns.

    My engineering roomie (bless him!) and I 'finished' the hen house that will go in a very secure, very short, not wide turtle pen. I'm using two concrete blocks on top of each other for the supports for the coop (6 pairs), which means we could only make the coop 30" tall . . . . It is about 73" long and 33" wide, so 6 feet by about 2 3/4 ft. It's going to be very difficult to get it set up in the pen even as narrow and short as it is now . . . . But the chickens will be able to go underneath the coop, so they'll have the benefit of still having a 'run' of about 50 square feet, a bit over the 10 sq ft per chicken needed.

    For ventilation, we've put eight (8) 6" 2x4's that stick up above the walls 3"; the OSB roof will be attached to the top of the 2x4's so there will be 3" all around the coop top for ventilation (minus the 8 2x4 widths that are the supports). My housemate has read the Patandchickens ventilation page (as I have), he's done the math (engineer), and has had to reassure me several times that we have about 20 times the ventilation necessary for 4 chickens (visually, the ventilation doesn't seem much at all!).

    During the heat of the summer, we'll be keeping the two cleanout doors to the coop open as well ( think they're 24" wide by 19" tall each); during the winter, we'll close the big doors and just have the pop door (10" wide x13" tall out of one of the cleanout doors) open.

    The nesting box is a cabinet turned on its back so that its doors open at the top; it's about 24" wide, 16" deep, and 10 1/2" tall when it's turned that way.

    We presently have NO ventilation in the nest boxes except that it's external to the coop and we've cut openings into the hen house for chicken access. It has to be on the south side of the coop, where the entrance to the pen is, for easy removal of eggs. Underneath the coop will be cool, since the placement of the coop within the pen in the back corner backs up to vegetation in the other neighbors' yards, and there are trees that will shade the pen for part of the day as well. I'm a bit worried now that the hens will lay underneath the coop, instead of in the nest box (especially if the nest box is too hot for them!). It would be very difficult to get under the coop to get eggs, so it's something I want to head off if I can. (The pullets -- at least I hope they're all pullets -- are about 7 weeks old now, I think -- not sure, I'll have to ask my other housemate). We're planning on leaving the pop door open, because it's the pen that's secure, not the hen house -- and that way the hens can come and go as they please into it. I'll also let them out in our yard some, but only when I'm there to supervise with the help of one of our dogs (lots of cats in the neighborhood, not to mention raccoons, rats, etc.).

    The hens like privacy and dark, secluded spots for egg-laying, so how can we provide ventilation for them and still give them the privacy/darkness they want?

    Do we need to add ventilation to the nest box/cabinet at all?

    Since the 3" under the roof goes all the way around the coop, does that provide enough ventilation for the nest box as well?

    If I shingle the coop roof, will that help keep the coop cool? ( I probably don't have enough shingles to do the entire roof -- it's 34" wide by 8 ft long, so it'll cover the nest boxes, to some extent.)

    Is the 3" all the way around the coop enough ventilation for the humidity during the summer and winter?

    Do we need to add a window (even if it doesn't open and close) above the nest boxes for more light inside the coop? Or window(s)? The coop is pretty dark if the cleanout doors are closed, even when it's on the deck where we built it, and not in the (often) shaded pen . . . .

    The floor is separate from the house itself, so there won't be any way to caulk the floor/wall joining until we actually get the house IN the pen itself. We don't have anywhere to put the chickens (safely) for more than a few hours (as long as it's nice so I can stay out there with the dogs) -- so I won't be able to paint the caulking that could go in between the floor and the walls. Will that matter? I did buy some quick-drying caulk that dries in about 40 minutes (it's painter's caulk) -- but I'm not sure about painting INSIDE the coop and then expecting the pullets to go in there within a few hours. I don't know how long the Kilze paint takes to dry, but that's what we'll be using inside the coop (and outside, as well). Is it ok to just dust with DE in the cracks between the floor and the walls as soon as that gets delivered (should be here next week), instead of trying to paint it? Should I definitely caulk there (I'm assuming I should -- and just plan on recaulking if need be).

    Am I just being a worrywart???

    THANKS for any info any of you can give in answer to these questions (or any other comments you can think of that I need to know). As I said, I'll try and get some pictures posted by late morning May 10th . . . . They'll be in this thread . . . .

    [​IMG]
    carroll
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    The ventilation sounds good, even for the nests, I would think. You're ventilating warm humid air which of course rises, so it should go out without a problem. They like a darkened, private-feeling place for a nest. I hope they don't lay under the coop, as you are worried about. I'd probably have some sort of tool to drag the egg out if it was a problem. You can caulk along the floor/wall edge and not paint the caulk. Painting the inside is not a necessity, though I grant makes for easier cleaning. I think I would hold off on the painting until I had a way to secure the chickens elsewhere to allow plenty of drying time so they will not have any exposure to paint fumes -- which of course takes a good deal longer than being dry to touch.

    Hard to answer about the window. They need enough natural light to be comfortable going inside at dusk. They like to be able to see out from the roost.

    Good luck!
     
  3. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    Thank you -- I am definitely a worrywart in general! We can caulk and paint everything except between the walls and the floor today in the brilliant Colorado sunshine -- and we probably won't get the coop in the pen until at least tomorrow, so the paint should be dry by then (and outgassed).

    I hope I can figure out how to post these pics! Here they are, if it works . . . .

    Pat, do you specifically have any thoughts to add? Your articles have been a HUGE help -- as well as your other comments to other people on these pages (I lurk a lot).


    THIS IS THE FRONT OF THE COOP, WITH THE 2 CLEAN OUT DOORS AND THE POP DOOR
    [​IMG]

    THESE ARE THE ROOSTS -- THEY'RE ONLY 6" HIGH, BUT WE COULDN'T MAKE THEM ANY TALLER BECAUSE OF THE VENTILATION AT THE TOP
    [​IMG]

    This is a view of the nest box cutout from the inside -- the two 2x6's are going to hold the nestbox to the house, once we get it in the pen
    [​IMG]

    This is the nestbox itself, on it's own separate floor; the doors open on the top .. ..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    carroll


    HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO EVERYONE FOR WHOM THAT SALUTATION IS APPROPRIATE!
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    If the coop itself is adequately ventilated (as yours probably is, provided you have the big doors open on hot days), the nestboxes should not need their own ventilation (other than, obviously, being open into the coop)

    Although because your configuration is a little unusual I would not 100% guarantee the nestboxes couldn't concievably get hot; but you know, if they did, just add ventilation. Hens do not need darkness to lay [​IMG], honestly they WILL lay in ventilated nestboxes if necessary. But, I'd suggest waiting and seeing.

    I'd put a window in, personally.

    A shingled roof will tend to make the coop a bit hotter (all things being equal) than metal-over-plywood or an opaque plastic roof. In particular a shingled roof tends to hold heat into evening.

    Unless your carpentry is really gappy, I would not worry about caulking the floor-wall crack, it is not a big deal at all.

    Hope I did not miss any questions, am just sitting down at the computer for a minute or two in between wheelbarrowing compost all over and reconfiguring the turkey run [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. coloradonewbie

    coloradonewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 25, 2011
    Thanks, Pat and DDawn!

    I, too, would like to add a window -- but did you mean just for sunlight, or for extra ventilation? If it's for extra ventilation, it's going to be hard to do it where it won't be drafty on the hens.

    The pen seemed perfect for the hens, but given that I did want them to have enough space inside during the winter, the whole project has turned into a nightmare-never-want-to-do-again kind of thing. the dimensions are just all wrong, unless we took up a lot of the space in the pen for the house on the ground, which I gathered wouldn't be a great thing to do, since I'm the only one here who can let them out to forage in the yard during the day . . . .

    The one really nice aspect of the pen is that, once they're inside, I have absolutely no worries about predators. That helps a bunch!

    I've just "gap and caulked" (never use that stuff again if I can help it!), as well as used painter's caulk. None of these boards were straight, square, or non-warped, so yeah, we wound up with some huge gaps. Once the house is on the floor, I might use the expensive quick-drying painter's caulk, but definitely not the gap&caulk stuff -- I used gloves and safety glasses, and still had to dunk my hands repeatedly in denatured alcohol -- the fumes are horrid, so it definitely wouldn't be good for chickens! I think I'll just dust really well with DE; the chickens will also have DE in their dust bath area -- and hope that takes care of mite problems . . . .

    After it all cures, I'll take a serrated blade and see what hunks I can cut off, and then paint it with Kilz-eze. The warm weather has arrived, so there's no problem with them in their temporary coop-inside-the-pen for as long as it takes me to get everything right in this bigger, permanent hen house. Pat, I'm going to take your suggestion to someone else and just paint 'trim' on -- my housemates are going to have to move it into the pen, and no way am I going to be adding weight with "useless" things like trim that would make it look nicer. (Of course, trim would also protect the edges, but I think I'll just put on extra layers of exterior paint . . . .)

    It will be a lot nicer looking when it's finished, that's for sure!

    [​IMG]
    carroll
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Mainly I meant for light, but in general I think that unless you live somewhere that never gets hot in the summer it is kind of stupid to have an unopenable window [​IMG] Remember that drafty is not an issue in summer -- in summer, we call it a "pleasant breeze" not a draft [​IMG] Then in colder weather you close a plexiglass (or whatever) panel over it and still get the light, just not the airflow.

    The pen seemed perfect for the hens, but given that I did want them to have enough space inside during the winter, the whole project has turned into a nightmare-never-want-to-do-again kind of thing. the dimensions are just all wrong, unless we took up a lot of the space in the pen for the house on the ground, which I gathered wouldn't be a great thing to do, since I'm the only one here who can let them out to forage in the yard during the day . . . . The one really nice aspect of the pen is that, once they're inside, I have absolutely no worries about predators. That helps a bunch!

    I think it is a pretty good design given, as you say, the very considerable constraints you're working under. I know how aggravating it is to try to engineer a round peg into an unavoidably square hole, just think, everything you build in the future will seem EASY compared to this [​IMG]

    None of these boards were straight, square, or non-warped, so yeah, we wound up with some huge gaps. Once the house is on the floor, I might use the expensive quick-drying painter's caulk, but definitely not the gap&caulk stuff

    No no no. Just stick some trim in there -- me, I'd use whatever I could find free/scrap, but if you want to be fancy you can use quarter-round, or 1x1/2" furring strips if the gaps are too big for quarter-round. Personally I'd just stick it on with finishing nails. Then you don't have to worry at all about fumes or airing out.

    Good luck, have fun, good job [​IMG],

    Pat​
     

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