what are the signs of not having enough ventilation in your coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by blueseal, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. blueseal

    blueseal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2008
    i know ammonia smell is one. what else .
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    -- any ammonia smell whatsoever (check down at 'chicken level' not just at your nose level, and check first thing in the
    morning after coop has been closed up all night.

    -- "strong" smell even if your nose does not register it as ammonia-y. That is, a bit of an 'animals live here' smell is fine,
    but if it smells like a *bad* petting zoo then it is a problem.

    -- excessive humidity, which you can detect by:

    -- an accurate-reading hygrometer reads 85% (ish) or higher when outdoor humidity is not as high

    -- a damp heavy feel to the air in the coop after it's been closed up overnight

    -- excessive condensation/frost on interior surfaces. What is excessive? If the temperature difference
    between coop and outdoors is maybe 10 F or less, you should have no condensation if humidity ok.
    If the temperature difference is greater, you can get condensation on windowpanes or bare sheet
    metal even if coop humidity is not problematic, which is reasonably ok for windows but if you have
    large areas of exposed sheet metal (roof, sides) then they should be insulated because otherwise
    they create a moisture trap effect which negates your ventilation efforts. If you are getting
    condensation/frost on the inside of wooden or insulated walls, then you almost certainly have too-
    high humidity in the coop (except in truly Arctic conditions with the temp difference in vs out being
    extremely dramatic)

    -- mold or mildew growing on surfaces int he coop.

    Does that help?

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. blueseal

    blueseal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2008
    Quote:i have wooden t1-11 siding on my coop. in the winter i do get frost on the inside of my walls also get cob webs on walls. its not insulated my coop is 10x12 its a gambrel barn with 1 big window and 2 small eave vents it houses 19 adult birds . they have access to big run but dont go out too much in winter. i offer them free choice to go out.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Whether the frost on the inside of your uninsulated walls is likely to be signs of high humidity or not depends what your indoor temperature is compared to outdoor temperatures, e.g. at night/dawn.

    If the two are fairly close, like within 10-15 F, it is quite likely too humid in your coop.

    If the difference is larger, coop humidity may not necessarily be a big issue BUT you may want to seriously consider insulating the walls because having all that humidity condense out on such a large area of uninsulated surfaces is trapping a lot of moisture within your coop and preventing your ventilation from getting rid of it. Meaning, if you insulated you might well be able to have less vents open. Also a lot of times having frost/condensate all over the inside of your walls can turn into mold, which is bad for the chickens' lungs. Something to think about anyhow.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. swimmer

    swimmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2010
    Agree. I think the second you open the coop door in the morning you will know if you need more ventilation.
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Frost, especially heavy icing, on the inside of the windows.
  7. ggupchurch

    ggupchurch New Egg

    Feb 10, 2011
    You might try measuring your ammonia levels.

    Reseachers have proven that by maintaining average ammonia levels of 25 ppm (under 10 ppm is better) chickens have a tencency to grow larger, are more uniform, have fewer diseases and are more uniform.

    Controlling ammonia also results in fewer odors, H2S and fewer overall emissions.

    Ammonia levels during ventilation will drop, but will return as soon as the fans stop. Ammonia levels may be higher during the night and during cold weather.

    This problem is that growers cannot smell the difference between 25 and 50 ppm and if you can smell it is present.

    We use a Litmus Ammonia Monitor in our coops. It'll give you an average ammonia level from 10 - 100 ppm and will measure from 1 - 24 hours. It's $3.00.
  8. Michigan Transplant

    Michigan Transplant Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2010
    Marionville, MO
    I went out to my chicken coup a little while ago and looked up at the ceiling and there are LOTS of cob webs/spider webs up there. Is this also a sign of NOT enough ventilation?
  9. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2009
    I have no intention to hijack this thread but I have the same problem and would just like to join in. My coop is humid (lately 70-87% and there is too much ammonia. I've flipped the litter 2 times a day for the past week and have added stall dry. The girls have access to an outdoor enclosed (frame with tarp) area and come and go as they please. I've opened up the windows and vents as much as I dare because it is so cold here.

    At night I leave the vents open and 2 of the windows open 1 inch. I have a Sweeter Heater so they will be comfortable even though tonight it will be about -12 degrees without the wind.

    Is there anything else I can try? Tomorrow it's going to be 10 degrees for the high but if I have to clean the coop out and start from scratch I will.

    Thanks everyone
  10. TheSitcomGirls

    TheSitcomGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 17, 2010
    It sounds like you have plenty of ventilation...maybe your bedding is getting too damp.

    I have good luck with bagged pine shavings as bedding, the very puffy kind that has some sawdust in it.

    My friend used to use pine shavings, but they were not puffy, more stick-like for lack of a better word! She had problems with ammonia smells and the chicken bedding being damp. So she switched to the puffy shavings. They seem to absorb better and her coop doesn't smell like ammonia anymore.

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