venting a coop using a pipe and keeping the coop warm

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brksmith, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. brksmith

    brksmith In the Brooder

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    In the 1907 book "Poultry Architecture - A Practical Guide for Construction of Poultry Houses, Coops and Yards", George B Fiske states a couple of things that seem to be contradictory to a couple of mainstream current ideas that I'm finding both in current books and on this site and others. I'm trying to figure out which side of the fence I'm going to land on when I build my coop, and am honestly thinking that these old recommendations seem to make more sense. So I'm going to put this out and ask for people to give any reaction or links to agriculture research reports that might support or contradict these ideas.

    #1: Actually, everything I’d read until Fiske’s book talks about ventilating the coop at the top, near the roof. On page 13, Fiske notes that the plans he is reviewing have ventilation at the top of the roof, and says, “… this system of ventilation is defective. As has been frequently explained, the proper way to ventilate a poultry house is by means of a shaft running from within a few inches of the floor to several feet above the roof. Thus a draft is created that draws up the cold air and bad odors from near the ground, while the warm air at the top is thus brought down and the fowls are kept much warmer than would be the case if a hole in the roof let out all the warm air.”

    Does anyone have a ventilation shaft like Fiske discusses? I’m looking for folks with hands-on experience had with this setup: Does it work well? What size shaft is needed? Should the part of the shaft that is above the roof have any particular construction details to make the drafting work better? And I was also wondering if there is any research that is more recent than this indicating that this is not correct.

    #2: There is current disagreement about warming coops in the cold weather. But it seems like most people feel that chickens should not be in insulated or heated coops. The arguments are persuasive: If the hens are allowed to keep cold, they will develop better layers of feathers to warm themselves in the winter, but if they are kept warm they will not have this protective feathering and will be susceptible to failures that might occur if something happens to turn off the heat (power failure for example). Also, there is the risk of fire that is noted with the common use of heat lamps when the clamp fails and there is no protective cage or other mechanism to keep the bulb from landing on the floor of the coop.

    I live in Michigan, and we get some pretty bad cold weather in winter. I live in a city, and the only chicken keepers that I know are neighbors that I chicken-sit for on their vacations. They had a small plastic koop against their house, and then purchased a wooden coop from one of the big box stores. Fall gave way to winter, and the hens ended up not having that protective layer of feathers (or not enough). The lost significant weight and caught ‘colds’, and my neighbor ended up selling the wooden coop and returning the girls to the little plastic one. I know the ‘big box’ store coops are pretty flimsy, but this event made me think that we really do need insulation and heating here.

    Fiske notes in his book on page 5:

    “It has been left for the West Virginia experiment station to determine just how much difference there would be in egg production between similar flocks kept in warm and cold houses. Two houses, built exactly alike and situated side by side, were selected for the experiment, in each of which were placed twelve pullets. One house had previously been sheathed on the inside and covered with paper to make it perfectly tight. Both were boarded with matched siding and shingle roofs. The fowls were fed alike in each case. The morning mash consisted of corn meal, ground middlings and ground oats, and at night whole grain was scattered in the litter. They also had fresh water, grit and bone and granulated bone. The experiment started November 24 and continued for five months. The following table shows the number of eggs laid during each period of thirty days :”

    The results he lists did not paste well, but the outcome was:
    Month 1: 87 eggs warm house / 39 eggs cold house
    Month 2: 130 eggs warm / 106 eggs cold
    Month 3: 138 warm / 103 cold
    Month 4: 120 warm / 124 cold
    Month 5: 154 warm / 114 cold
    TOTAL: 629 warm / 486 cold

    Fiske then states, “The experiment clearly indicates that it is important to build warm and substantial houses for winter egg production. In very cold climates special pains should be taken to make the roosting place warm.”

    I know that the "warm house" in this experiment didn’t have substantial insulation, but it still suggests to me that with all other things being equal, the warmer chickens were more able to do their normal things (laying eggs) than their cold chicken counterparts.

    Does anyone know of any research that supports either side of this argument? I’m looking at using 4 inches of insulation in the walls, floor and ceiling, plus a solar powered warmer with battery backups.

    Thanks for your input! I’m hoping to not start any arguments or create any bad feelings. And instead of focusing on what people believe and have heard, I’d like to focus on any applicable research into these questions, or any actual personal experiences with chickens that would be useful.

    Thanks so much! Barb
     
  2. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

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    :frow Hi Barb.
    There is a thread here on BYC where, if I remember correctly, a guy built two exact coops...one insulated and one not.
    Let me see if I can find his experiment for you. Brb.
     
  3. Rose Quartz

    Rose Quartz Crossing the Road

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    Hmmm, im interested to find out anything you might learn.

    Im not sure i understand what you mean by the ventilation shaft. It the winter outside air will be colder than inside air. I would imagine a shaft leading from the floor of the coop to outside at or above the roof would force outside cold air down the shaft making floor level colder and pushing the smells from floor level up. Also cooling the room more.


    (This is based solely on my understanding of how hot and cold air interacts.)
     
  4. Notaneggspurt

    Notaneggspurt Songster

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    :welcome

    Thanks for all the detailed information Barb! It is interesting reading for sure. Much of the old readings I've found have been about large scale production style housing. I haven't gotten to Fiske's writings yet. Did they mention what breed they used in the warm house cold house experiment?

    As far as scaling something like this for yourself, how many chickens are you looking at getting? Any particular breed?
     
  5. brksmith

    brksmith In the Brooder

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  6. brksmith

    brksmith In the Brooder

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    I wondered about that too! My thought is that there must be something about the wind blowing by that creates a negative pressure to 'pull' the air up. I'm hoping that someone who has tried this might be able to comment. :)
     
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  7. brksmith

    brksmith In the Brooder

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    Yes, for sure Fiske was talking about larger scale housing. But he also did show some relatively smaller setups for homes/home farms. He focused on coops that were actually being used successfully. It's so interesting seeing the differences in the use of language from then to now. There are a few times when I find that I have no idea what is being said!! He did not mention what the breed was used for the experiment.

    Are there any interesting old writings that you found that you would recommend reading? I'd love to read any current research on small scale home chicken keeping, but Google hasn't been much help. I keep thinking there must be an agg school or extension service somewhere that has done research, but maybe that is just wishful thinking!

    I live in a city in Michigan, and am looking at eventually having 2-3 hens. I want to have friendly birds that are good in cold weather and are pretty good with children (I am older and have neighbors with 5 little kids that love coming over to help me garden). My family's history is in wheat farming, but I have no farming experience myself. My mother's sister had a pretty good flock of chickens and a farm, and I have happy memories of gathering eggs at her house and being amazed that eggs actually came from these birds!
     
  8. Notaneggspurt

    Notaneggspurt Songster

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    On another note, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what they meant when "house" is used. Based on current production level poultry houses it meant the chickens remain in the "house" 24/7. Looking at the old photos of the open air poultry houses makes me think they were kept inside.
     
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  9. Doc7

    Doc7 Songster

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    The warm composting action in the bedding would rise through the chimney just like a fireplace does.
     
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