Ventilation vs. protection from rain/cold in the PNW

JEN4444

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2020
16
12
36
This is our first year with chickens here in the Pacific Northwest. We have four hens (I think they're all hens) that are about 5 months old--no eggs yet. We built a coop and run based on lots of information about ventilation for the summer and protection in the winter. Winters are pretty mild here (occasional lows in the mid-20s), but it rains a lot. This last summer we had a few days around 116 degrees, so ventilation seemed important.

Our coop measures 3' x 5.5 feet and is 3--3.5' high. There's a run beneath the coop and beside the coop that they have free run in as you can see in the photo. We don't close the hatch between the coop and the run at night. We also have a fenced but not secure yard we let them out into when we're outside so we can watch for neighborhood dogs, hawks, etc. Unfortunately, the roof doesn't have much overhang at all--maybe 1-2", but it is attached 0.5-1 inch above a layer of hardware cloth so air can move around there somewhat. Most of the walls are plywood with the exception of two small-ish windows (hardware cloth-covered) on one of the long sides, a hatch down into the run, and one entire side that is hardware cloth.

The whole setup is only about 10 feet from our 2-story house with the open (hardware cloth-covered) side facing our house. So I thought having the open side face our house would provide enough protection from the rain and cold and provide lots of ventilation, but I find myself losing sleep now that it's begun to rain hard at night with wind. The hens go up into their coop every evening and every morning they seem just fine and happy, but I'm not really sure what to watch for, being new to chickens. The coop doesn't seem to be drenched or even very wet at all.

I would welcome any thoughts about whether we should add a removable piece of plywood to the open side of the coop. If so, I keep hearing that ventilation at the top is most important, but whatever rain might get into the coop is going to come from above, obviously. Should I leave the coop as is to maximize ventilation and just stop worrying about the chickens, or should I add some protection? I attached a photo. I see that it looks dreary in the photo--needs a clean-out!

Thanks so much for your help! I'm new-ish to this thread and did try to find this kind of info in previous threads, but mostly found info about converted sheds, etc., that had much less ventilation than our coop.
 

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3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,793
27,742
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Ventilation is really critical, even in winter.

How about putting an awning on the open side to protect it from the rain?

As long as the wind isn't blowing across the roosts strongly enough to ruffle feathers and/or get them wet on the roost the chickens will be fine.

Have you gotten onto your state thread to talk about winter precautions with others in your climate? The state threads are great for that kind of information. :)
 

JEN4444

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2020
16
12
36
Ventilation is really critical, even in winter.

How about putting an awning on the open side to protect it from the rain?

As long as the wind isn't blowing across the roosts strongly enough to ruffle feathers and/or get them wet on the roost the chickens will be fine.

Have you gotten onto your state thread to talk about winter precautions with others in your climate? The state threads are great for that kind of information. :)
Thank you, 3KillerBs. That's very helpful! I do not know about the state threads--I'll see if I can find mine.
Thanks again!
 

saysfaa

Crowing
Jul 1, 2017
962
2,078
261
Upper Midwest, USA
Great job on your coop!

It sounds like your house is enough protection. With the small overhang, I think you would tell if there are drafts by whether it gets wet inside.

I would leave the open side open for sure. The first thing I would close if it starts getting wet inside is the windows for the winter (or just when it is cold, if you want - cold being 45 F or so.) I think you said you have an eave vent too? In my climate and with my coop in an open location, I would block that for the winter too. In your climate and sheltered coop site, I would watch how dry it stays and if it stays dry as you describe, I'd leave them open. It may be the house is blocking the wind enough. Anyway, something about it is working very well.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
34,459
71,169
1,462
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
This is our first year with chickens here in the Pacific Northwest. We have four hens (I think they're all hens) that are about 5 months old--no eggs yet. We built a coop and run based on lots of information about ventilation for the summer and protection in the winter. Winters are pretty mild here (occasional lows in the mid-20s), but it rains a lot. This last summer we had a few days around 116 degrees, so ventilation seemed important.

Our coop measures 3' x 5.5 feet and is 3--3.5' high. There's a run beneath the coop and beside the coop that they have free run in as you can see in the photo. We don't close the hatch between the coop and the run at night. We also have a fenced but not secure yard we let them out into when we're outside so we can watch for neighborhood dogs, hawks, etc. Unfortunately, the roof doesn't have much overhang at all--maybe 1-2", but it is attached 0.5-1 inch above a layer of hardware cloth so air can move around there somewhat. Most of the walls are plywood with the exception of two small-ish windows (hardware cloth-covered) on one of the long sides, a hatch down into the run, and one entire side that is hardware cloth.

The whole setup is only about 10 feet from our 2-story house with the open (hardware cloth-covered) side facing our house. So I thought having the open side face our house would provide enough protection from the rain and cold and provide lots of ventilation, but I find myself losing sleep now that it's begun to rain hard at night with wind. The hens go up into their coop every evening and every morning they seem just fine and happy, but I'm not really sure what to watch for, being new to chickens. The coop doesn't seem to be drenched or even very wet at all.

I would welcome any thoughts about whether we should add a removable piece of plywood to the open side of the coop. If so, I keep hearing that ventilation at the top is most important, but whatever rain might get into the coop is going to come from above, obviously. Should I leave the coop as is to maximize ventilation and just stop worrying about the chickens, or should I add some protection? I attached a photo. I see that it looks dreary in the photo--needs a clean-out!

Thanks so much for your help! I'm new-ish to this thread and did try to find this kind of info in previous threads, but mostly found info about converted sheds, etc., that had much less ventilation than our coop.
If it is dry in there after a rain.... then it is good.

If it is wet in there after a rain,then maybe add an awning just for winter.
 

Bella Dominique

Chirping
Nov 20, 2020
45
71
83
We live in PNW and I would definitely provide more winter protection but it’s very windy where we live So the rain does come in at an angle at times. When it snowed last year it swirled into every part of the run even though the bottom 4 feet had plastic panels protecting it.
We also have days of really heavy rain that we had to put up gutters on low side of roof to pull water away from the run because it started flowing into the run. Chickens do need to stay dry during cool temperatures.
Looks like the roosts have no protection from wind?
 

JEN4444

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2020
16
12
36
Great job on your coop!

It sounds like your house is enough protection. With the small overhang, I think you would tell if there are drafts by whether it gets wet inside.

I would leave the open side open for sure. The first thing I would close if it starts getting wet inside is the windows for the winter (or just when it is cold, if you want - cold being 45 F or so.) I think you said you have an eave vent too? In my climate and with my coop in an open location, I would block that for the winter too. In your climate and sheltered coop site, I would watch how dry it stays and if it stays dry as you describe, I'd leave them open. It may be the house is blocking the wind enough. Anyway, something about it is working very well.
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I really appreciate it!
 

JEN4444

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2020
16
12
36
We live in PNW and I would definitely provide more winter protection but it’s very windy where we live So the rain does come in at an angle at times. When it snowed last year it swirled into every part of the run even though the bottom 4 feet had plastic panels protecting it.
We also have days of really heavy rain that we had to put up gutters on low side of roof to pull water away from the run because it started flowing into the run. Chickens do need to stay dry during cool temperatures.
Looks like the roosts have no protection from wind?
That's true, the roosts don't have protection on the side by our house. Maybe a piece of plywood that protects the top half of the coop, including the roosts, that could be added in winter and removed in summer would be a good addition. And thank you for the reminder about water/drainage and keeping the chickens dry.
 

Mamatomany123

Crowing
Mar 14, 2020
3,857
5,198
356
Midland, tx
We were kind of running into the same problem. I in west texas where we get 120+ summers and blowing rain and snow in the spring and winter. We originally had big openings but quickly learned last winter that wouldn't work with snow. We are currently working on this. May be overkill on the hang but we had some blowing rain last night and the coop and birds stayed nice and dry.

Ignore the run. We had to remove tons of HC to attach this roof. I'll be working on that today.
 

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Bella Dominique

Chirping
Nov 20, 2020
45
71
83
We were kind of running into the same problem. I in west texas where we get 120+ summers and blowing rain and snow in the spring and winter. We originally had big openings but quickly learned last winter that wouldn't work with snow. We are currently working on this. May be overkill on the hang but we had some blowing rain last night and the coop and birds stayed nice and dry.

Ignore the run. We had to remove tons of HC to attach this roof. I'll be working on that today.
Our summer here in PNW was hot and extremely dry this year so Jen4444’s coup would have been perfect for summer (summer vacation coop), but not good at all for winter. We let our girls sleep in the secure run instead of the coop because of the heat. I’m finding out the first year of owning chickens is a learning experience so I feel more prepared this year.
 

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