Ventilation Question


14 Years
Jul 8, 2009
Eldersburg, Maryland
I need to know what to do for the ventilation that is needed for the winter months. My coop is small with two windows on the front wall and the higher long narrow window on the back wall. The back wall window really should be closed because their roost is on that wall and the air would hit their heads blowing in. So, should I leave one of the front windows opened an inch or so. That would be my only other option and would that be enough?


You don't mention what way each side is facing. I'm going to put a small hole towards the top of the coop on the East side. that way it will be away from the north and west winds and won't blow in on the chickens but allow from some ventilation out. If your two windows are on the south or east side you might leave one of them open just a bit.
To get good winter-friendly ventilation you will need a saw of some sort. Preferably a REAL saw, not just a cookie-cutter hole-saw (round holes are just too small to do a good job moving air, even if they are several inches diameter -- it takes about 12 *four inch* circles to equal just ONE square foot of opening!).

Without knowing exactly where you live, and assuming the coop faces South (does it?), the best solution would be to create some long narrow vents atop the front wall and/or open up the eaves between rafters so air can flow thru there; and also put a vent in the high triangle over the door and in a corresponding place on the other side of the coop, as large as space allows. Flaps or whatever to close all of them down. Make those two types of vents BIG ENOUGH and you should be ok.

Good luck, have fun,


I finally went back and found this post. DH said the side with the gate to the run is the North side. What I've been doing so far is keeping the two little front windows open a couple inches each. Then the back long narrow opening across the back of the house, I tied the little wooden door open about half way. That one worries me because their roost is on the back side of the house right below that long narrow window. Should I keep it closed and just install the vents in the North corner and also in the corner opposite where the door is located?

Thanks and suggestions would be great.
I'm still not sure where you live, thus what kind of winter this is *for*... if you are somewhere it seldom falls below freezing, what you describe is probably ok (as long as it is predatorproof), just close the opening by the roost on your coldest nights. If you are somewhere colder, I would suggest adding some more vents unless you only have a very few chickens in there; but I wouldn't put them on the north side, I'd put them on the S and E sides (it is ok to have them on the N and/or W sides *too*, but you will often want those ones closed so you need to have ample vents on the downwind sides, you know?). You don't want a crossbreeze in a cold winter, although in warm weather obviously it is a good thing.

Good luck, have fun,

The opening directly above them probably causes a draft on the birds to a degree, but as your windows are only open slightly it won't be too bad. Ideally though it's better to not have the air pass directly past the birds.

The condensation problem is usually because of no air flow along the coops ceiling, to draw away moist air, so Pat's idea of vents above the door, and again at the opposite side is a good one, if you have the right construction to be able to do that. I suspect though, there may be a 2"x4" in those areas. You could probably put high wall vents on either side of your windows, and get good air circulation still.

You could also simply screen your windows with hardware cloth, for predator, pest, protection, and open them both up slightly more, say 4-5", to get air flow. Do they open at the top? If so, that would be ideal, as you can control the opening size, IE; wide open in the summer, closed more in the winter months. If the opening part is a the bottom, could you flip the windows round easily?
I too would be interested in your location. Three of your respondents are from three kinds of winter so you certainly have some people with resources! Drafts and ventilation are very different, as you know, and even west Texas is getting unexpected winter this week. So knowing what your birds are adapted to matters, and having options to open and close vents and windows as weather changes is golden!
Pat, Bills, and LynnP are all correct. Any ventilation at the top of the coop is going to be a positive thing no matter the climate or locale. It comes down to how much and if it can be controlled via a permanent flap or closure if on N or W sides. Chickens are prone to lung disorders if kept in damp stinky coops. A 3-sided shed is better than a fancy coop that is too tight and lacking in ventilation. I have a turbine vent in center of my roof and two gable vents. I also have full length soffit vents front and back. So I really never have to leave my windows open much unless I choose to. They are all wide open day and night in summertime and mostly nearly closed overnight in winter. I do open them wide every AM before cleaning poop planks and filling feed trough. They stay open for much of the day. My coop is never stinky and never sweats.
Can you fiddle around with the location of the roost any, move it somewhere not in front of the vent? The other thing you could try is rigging a baffle in front of the vent so that the air is deflected up/down and not directly across the roost.
It's snowing right now where we live in Dallas. It's not cold enough to accumulate, but still...kind of a surprise.

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