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Ventilation vs drafts

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Yay Chicks!, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    Is there a definitive answer as to what constitutes ventilation vs drafts? Everything has been great during the summer but winter is inevitable.

    I have a small raised coop (Just barely enough room for 4 birds) with attached covered run. The coop has a ventilation opening going about half way across in the eaves on one side of the coop. It is above the roost and above the heads of the birds. Across from that is a good sized window, reinforced with hardware cloth of course, that can be opened or closed, but is below the birds when they roost. I've been leaving that open most of the time during the summer. The clean out door is not airtight along the closing side - there is a thin gap.

    I was hoping that it would be okay to leave the window propped open a little for ventilation, but am concerned about drafts.

    I live in NW Oregon. Our winters are relatively mild but we do have streaks of below freezing temps...sometimes in the teens, and we usually will have a bout of snow that might last a week or two. There's a lot of rain and wind during which the coop stayed very dry this past spring.

    I'm hoping you won't tell me I need to keep the window closed and create new ventilation openings in the eaves, because I don't have the tools, but I'm kind of thinking that's what's coming.

    So...what do you think? (4 birds - BO, BR, 2 EEs)
     
  2. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm Premium Member

    My opinion is that if you have lots of vents on one wall an 3 solid walls then you have ventilation... If you add a vent on any of the other 3 walls you will have a draft.

    If you try cross ventilation it has to be adjustable or you will ether end up with to much or to little according to the wind speed.

    I would add a vent close to the floor on the side you already have a vent an only have the window open in the summer.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I think forest grove averages even in winter a tad warmer than north of seattle WA. Most of my birds chose to sleep out under a tarp in the cold for all the nights of low teens and even for those days of single digits. Not a single bit of frost bite. If they are acclimated, I wouldn't worry about your ventilation being too "drafty", as any walls will be more draft free than wire. Only the old and young hens went inside to sleep.
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    The biggest difference between what constitutes drafts (bad) and proper ventilation (good) is temperature, IMO. Think of sitting in your kitchen on a hot day, and a cool breeze (or any breeze) blows in on you from somewhere...Awwwwww. Now you're sitting in that same kitchen in the winter time. Your power is out. No heat. You're freezing your hiney off. Suddenly, an icy breeze starts blowing on you from somewhere (maybe one of your kids came in and left the door open...lol). Nobody wants icy air blowing on them when it's freezing outside...especially blowing up their skirts [​IMG]

    I would not use the windows as part of your ventilation. I would only use the ventilation that is above the birds' heads in the winter. Their warm breath and the the heat/moisture from their droppings will rise and escape from that. If you clean your coop frequently, that will help a lot (get's rid of moist wastes). Now, I don't know how large your ventilation opening is compared to your coop...??? So I can't advise whether you may need more than that or not...
     
  5. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    Thank you for your answers.

    Teach1, I appreciate the analogy to explain the difference. It may be that the ventilation I have will be enough, as I do clean the poop board daily (won't that be fun in the driving rain [​IMG] ), as well as scooping out any large wet clumps on the floor and adding clean shavings, DE and stirring frequently.
     
  6. kindir

    kindir Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Connecticut
    I don't know, I have a pretty decent setup for my chickens because I was able to convert my garage (which for some reason the previous owners built WAAAAYYY in the back of my backyard) into several nice chicken coops. A friend of a friend didn't have that luxury and has nothing but a 3 sided shelter for his chickens. We live in the northeast. It gets COLD here - subzero for several nights in a row last winter on several occasions. He didn't lose a single bird. No frostbite, nothing. Here I'd spent a ton of time and not a small amount of money on creating what I believe to be good quality coops and his chickens did just fine with almost nothing.

    Not that I wanted him to lose any, and I'm sure if you interviewed the chickens they would prefer my setup, but he's even getting more eggs than me!!! [​IMG]

    I agree with Silkiechicken - if they are acclimated to the area and they aren't very young or very old you should be in good shape.
     
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    DFW
    Quote:That's it. A draft is when wind from outside the coop blows over chickens as they roost. Good in summer heat, bad in winter cold. Vents that are well above roost level can be left open or partially open in the winter, but the openings lower down will usually need to be closed off.
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    DFW
    Quote:It's counterintuitive, I know, but closed up coops often result in frostbitten chickens more than more open housing arrangements. Why? Because if a coop that's closed up may have inadequate ventilation, too, and ventilation is key to keeping the humidity level down. In humid air, moisture precipitates onto combs, then freezes and bingo! frostbitten combs.

    A good rule of thumb is to try to build at least 1 square foot of ventilation per chicken, ideally at the top of walls well above roost level, with flaps you can adjust as needed.
     
  9. mdbokc

    mdbokc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    Look at pics of coops from universities ag departments. They will show winter ventilation above their heads as discussed. Additionally, the openings on the wall right above the roosts will show a draft of cold air coming in AND down on the birds. Thus they show a secondary ceiling or barrier extending from the wall to a point just beyond the roosting area. This way, cold air does not draft down onto them but the coop remains well ventilated. I designed mine with that in mind. The result is that it can be cold but the draft free area of the roosts is very comfortable. I tried it w/o the ceiling barrier and it was very cold from the downdraft just as they said it would be.

    For my false ceiling, I use use that translucent construction plastic. Works great.

    [​IMG]

    My ventilation along the tops of the wall looks like this...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  10. Jx2inNC

    Jx2inNC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Caraway, NC
    We've got actual old house windows on ours that pull out and prop up, about 1" gap between the roof and walls, and (2) 12"x12" vents at the very top back side of the coop.
    Because there are no airways directly across from one another, there doesn't tend to be much draft at all. In the cold, one window can be closed and locked, leaving the other window to block gusts of wind while allowing low airflow to come up under the window and and ultimately slowly rise and leave the coop.
    I'll have to see how it pans out, but so far I really like the air in low, air out high wind-break solution.
     

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