Ventilation Qs and Coop Remodel

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TalkALittle, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,570
    533
    179
    Dec 15, 2014
    Massachusetts
    Hello all, this is my first real post besides my introduction so please be gentle. I have questions about ventilation specific to my coop. This is my current coop and run that houses my 3 BO and 3BR hens and 1 bantam roo.

    [​IMG]

    We inherited the play structure and enclosed the bottom to create a little fort for my son. He decided he'd outgrown it about the same time I decided I wanted some chickens so being the frugal Yankee that I am, I figured I'd repurpose the fort and use it as a coop. Footprint is maybe 5'x6.5'. It has one little window that faces the run and a small people door on the right side that you can't see from this picture.

    I already know that the ventilation is inadequate, But things are dry inside (air doesn't seem any moister than outside) and I have not gotten any condensation in the coop. The birds are bedded on sand and I diligently remove any poop each morning so as not to have any unwanted sources of moisture in the coop overnight. Their water stays in the run. We are getting by this winter by leaving the one window open. I don't like this because the window is at the same height as the roosts. It is on the opposite end of the little coop than the roosts and faces the covered run. I lower and fasten down the tarp at night so at least there are no winds gusting through the window. I also have a homemade heater in the coop that I plan on using on the very coldest of nights. It is just 2 60 watt light bulbs in a concrete block that are plugged into a thermocube. The thermocube sits right next to the block so it comes on and goes off rather quickly. It doesn't really heat the coop much at all, basically just adds the warmth of a couple of birds. So far temperatures here in southern MA haven't even warranted plugging it in. I can tell by where they choose to roost at night and where I find poop in the morning that the birds are not huddling together and are spread out along the two roosts so they must not be cold.

    In the spring I plan to raise the roof of the coop to match the height and pitch of the covered run (somewhere from 6.5' to 7' at its highest). This will let me stand up in the coop, which I now realize is a more important feature than I originally thought, and will also allow me to install another larger window and some large vents that can open and close as needed. I plan on freeing up some floor space by having the nest boxes hang off the side with exterior access. The people door will move to the same side of the coop as the run door and will hopefully be a split door with an additional little screen door for the top section so I can leave that open depending on weather. There will be a narrow window beside the new door. The existing window will remain where it is simply because I have no reason to move it. I plan on adding vents to the other two walls.

    Here are some rough sketches of the exterior views to give an idea of how I want it to be. They are absolutely NOT to scale and have no measurements on them which drove my DH crazy but he promised to help me come up with some real plans once I have a better idea of how much ventilation I'm going to need and where I should put it. From what I've gathered, it is best to have plenty of venting that you're able to open and close as needed on opposite walls and well above roost height.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, (finally) about my questions...
    Based on the taller coop plan, what is the best placement for windows/vents in a coop my size that has a single pitched roof? Should I have vents low on one side and high on the other. On which walls? How about roost placement relative to vents? Are there any glaringly obvious flaws in my plan or things I need to consider?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    453
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Your makeshift solution sounds like it will work. One cautionary note, is that ammonia levels in inadequately ventilated coops become harmful to the chickens before you can smell ammonia. But the lack of condensation may be a good hint that the little window is enough, and probably your setup is enough to prevent too much draft on the roost -- expecially since the chickens are happy with the roost.

    The rule of thumb for ventilation is 1 sq ft per chicken -- but like most rules of thumb, it's not that valuable.

    I personally have a great dislike for external nests because they are fussy to build, weatherproof and make watertight and predator proof, and in the north like you are, might predispose to frozen eggs. And, in the end, you will be going inside to check on things anyway. You are on the borderline of enough interior space at present, and might do better to think of increasing outdoor space rather than indoor, if anything. Actually you can put the nests in the run if there is a well enough protected area.

    There is a great article on ventilation linked in my sig line, if you have missed it.

    Mine is certainly not the only possible way of looking at your setup. I hope some others will come along and give you some more. Good luck!
     
  3. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,570
    533
    179
    Dec 15, 2014
    Massachusetts
    Thanks for the response. Right now my roosts are along the 5' wall. After the remodel this will be the end of the coop where the roof is lowest. Common sense tells me I want vents on the high wall opposite the roosts as that's where the warmed air will carry the moisture. Should I also have vents on the low wall above the roosts? Wouldn't that cause cold air to dump right in onto the roosts? Should I have some venting below the roosts on that low wall or somewhere else? Or should change the roosts to run along the longer wall, with one end of the roost at the low end and one at the high end.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    453
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    IMO, it usually works best to have the venting away from the roosts. Of course, in the end, you just have to see how air moves in your particular setup.

    And remember that that "draft" becomes a welcome breeze in the heat of summer.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by