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Ventilation vs. Draft Protection

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by amk3000, May 17, 2009.

  1. amk3000

    amk3000 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm designing my first chicken coop, capacity: 2 hens. Everything I read mentions the importance of good ventilation, as well as the importance of keeping the hens protected from drafts. These two seem to contradict each other.
    I was thinking of building basically a box with a slanted roof, but where the roof slants up, not covering that space with wood but with chicken wire, so the front and sides would be ventilated on top. That would allow a draft going from side to side, but not from front to back, and if the draft is too much, the hens could move away from the very top of the coop (to a lower roost?).
    So my first question is: when does ventilation become too much ventilation. would my coop design be okay?

    Next question is, in a colder climate (it gets to single digits in the winter) would the ventilation make the coop too cold in spite of say, a light bulb to warm things up. I'm raising heavy birds (1 BO and 1 RIR). I've read that they are okay in the cold. How okay? Do they need supplemental heat in the winter?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Building something for just two chickens can sometimes be a little harder than for more. That is another reason more room than the minimum is better. First, I'd use hardwire cloth instead of chicken wire for predator protection. A raccoon, dog, fox, possum, etc will tear through chicken wire pretty easily.

    What you are talking about will work. I'd build the box tall enough so the chickens are not roosting in the cross draft created. That way, they are out of drafts if you don't have openings below them. However, in the summer, you may want an opening for ventilation if the coop is protected from the wind or you get those hot, sticky, calm nights. You can always block it off in the winter.

    I also live in a climate where it can get to single digits (it did twice this past winter) and I don't use supplemental heat. Its does not stay single digits that long and the ventilation is above them, much like you describe. I have one lower vent for those hot, sticky, calm nights but I block it off in the colder weather. Some of the upper ventilation can also be blocked if the wind is out of that direction.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Have you considered sizing it for 3 or 4 hens instead. Two is a really awkward number because if something should happen to one of them, you are in a really tough situation -- you have to get a replacement companion but chickens often don't accept newcomers well at *all*, aggression-wise. Whereas if you start with 3-4 chickens, you can lose one or two without having to confront introduction (and disease) problems. Just a thought.

    Everything I read mentions the importance of good ventilation, as well as the importance of keeping the hens protected from drafts. These two seem to contradict each other.

    No, it's just that you want as much fresh air flow as possible, in a way that does not create a wind/breeze at the chickens (at least not in cold weather). Ever stand all the way inside a garage (like against the back wall) with the garage-door wide open in the winter? Unless the wind's from the wrong direction, that is an excellent example of lotsa air exchange without a breeze on you. A more generally-applicable way of achieving this effect in a coop is to use vents that are high up (also just at one end of the coop, for very small coops) so there is physical separation between where the chickens are and where maximum air mvmt is. High vents also carry away maximal humidity, which is the main reason you want 'em in the first place.

    I was thinking of building basically a box with a slanted roof, but where the roof slants up, not covering that space with wood but with chicken wire, so the front and sides would be ventilated on top.

    That is a good design, particularly if you add flaps or sliders or what-have-you so that you can adjust how open the ventilation is according to the weather.

    Next question is, in a colder climate (it gets to single digits in the winter) would the ventilation make the coop too cold in spite of say, a light bulb to warm things up. I'm raising heavy birds (1 BO and 1 RIR). I've read that they are okay in the cold. How okay? Do they need supplemental heat in the winter?

    How cold do your winters get? In dry draft-free air, those breeds should for sure be fine down into the single digits, most likely considerably below (it varies from person to person so it's not possible to give a hard and fast number). Once you get into the -20s F there is a reasonable likelihood of some frostbite no matter how well your coop is set up.

    Perversely, the less ventilation you have, the MORE LIKELY frostbite is -- humdity in the air makes it happen at much milder temperatures. So, yes, you do need good ventilation all winter (unless you are getting down to like well below -40F, but that's a different situation, really, and not one most of us have to deal with). You can adjust how much of your ventilation you've got open on any particular day (and, ideally, which side of the coop it's on) according to wind direction and speed and temperature and all that.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  5. amk3000

    amk3000 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the replies.
    Patandchickens: the reason for 2 hens is that we live in town, and zoning limits us to just 2.
     
  6. tdgill

    tdgill Chillin' With My Peeps

    zoning schmoning

    [​IMG]
     
  7. ChickenChick22

    ChickenChick22 Out Of The Brooder

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    amk 3000- I am going to have to build a small coop as well! Just remembered about zoning! [​IMG] I will have to house two or three (not quite sure yet) I am thinking of a design
     

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