What is the difference between fresh air and drafts?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jun 30, 2011
I have read from many sources not to let your flock be subject to drafts, but that they need lots of fresh air. Our coop is situated with the door and windows (covered with hardware cloth) on the East and West sides of the coop. The wind here in Kansas, which everyone knows is blowing a lot of the time, comes from the North and South. Should I cover the windows on blowy nights? Last night I barely slept because I was so worried about them, but they were all fine this morning. So, what does one consider fresh air and what is considered a draft?


Free Ranging
10 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
If a breeze can hit them when they are sleeping, that is a draft. If the ventilation openings are over their heads when they are sleeping, that is good fresh air.


Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 14, 2008
This world is not my home.
I think it depends on how big your windows really are. If it were me I'd cover all but leave one on each wall, leave them cracked open a little, and just adjust that level of air flow as needed throughout the winter.

It's very hard to define drafty vs. ventilated. I'm sure many would consider my coop drafty at times, as the snow will blow into the pop door or into small cracks in the walls. I've never had any health issues and my birds thrive well in the winter with this level of draft...or ventilation. I'd rather have too much air flow than not enough, any day.

I do know this..on a windy and cold day, my coop seems cozy and I'll sometimes just sit in there and watch the birds coming and going...it soothes me to watch them while the day rages outside.

rancher hicks

10 Years
Feb 28, 2009
Syracuse, NY
I prefer to situate my window on the east and west sides to catch the sun light.

Drafts are currents of air moving in an upward or downward direction. These would be a constant "flow". Ventilation is best at the top of the coop so air blows across the top but doesn't create a breeze.

If you are in Kansas, the average winter temp looks to be in the high 20's. Not something to worry about. You could put a thermometer in the coop and monitor temps.

If you get a lot of wind I would plant wind breaks around the coop, so wind blows up and over the coop. You can google wind breaks and get a discription of what they are.

Also if you use the "deep littler" method that will keep things warm. However watch for humidiity, you want things to stay dry.

Cover the hardware cloth with burlap or duck cloth. Give the birds some heat producing night time snacks like corn. Send them to bed with a full stomach. If necessary hold back a little during the day.

Also choose winter hardy breeds such as Buckeyes. Heavy breeds should be fine.

Keep us posted to how things go.

I wish you the best,



8 Years
Aug 23, 2011
Portland OR
I have huge vents at the top of my coop. Would it be safe to cover 2 of the 3 with burlap since it is still breathable? I also found a few drafts around my people door so I have to take a 1x2 and fix that but Im more concerned about these big vents


12 Years
May 8, 2007
Think of a long room with open windows at one end and a man in a chair at the other end. That's ventilation. Move the chair to the end with the open windows, where the wind is blowing through and hitting the man in the chair. That's a draft.

In hot weather, it doesn't matter if the chickens are in a draft and it can actually help them to deal with heat.

In very cold weather, a draft has a wind chill effect. Chickens have feathers, but not on their comb and wattles. A strong breeze or wind can even ruffle feathers and cause body heat to escape.

In hot weather, I have a lot of extra ventilation open to keep the temperature in the coop as close to the outside temperature as possible. A lot of the extra summer ventilation is mid-level on the coop walls and catches the prevailing breezes.

In the winter, I only have enough ventilation open to keep the humidity levels closer to what they are outside.

Openings up high are good for letting warmer, moister air escape. This is good in winter or summer. Air will come in the pop hole door or any other openings in the coop, heat up, move up and out those openings.

In winter, it's good to have the roost in a more sheltered end of the coop. If you don't have openings directly over their heads in that corner or end of the coop, there won't be any draft moving through the roost area. Have your high openings at the other end from where you have the roosts, for the winter.

It's also good in the winter to have at least a section of the floor space that isn't drafty. If part of the coop is drafty it's not that big a deal, if they have a cozier spot to go stand in. On really frigid, windy days, they might not want to spend all day outside or in front of the pop hole door. As long as they have a nice spot in the coop to go hang out, they'll be fine. They can choose where they want to hang out.


8 Years
Sep 30, 2011
NOt really giving an answer to your question, but just something to consider. We got down to -38*f for about a week or so, bookended by -20*f and -10*f. I have a neighbor who has a coop with two solid walls and two hardware cloth walls. The corner if the solid walls faces north. his father had this coop before him. THAT is a drafty coop. His girls are fine, they get accustomed to the weather, and adapt to conditions remarkably fast.

I had a draft problem, smelled like ammonia, so I cut two 1' x 2' squares in the wall at ground level. I then cut a hole in the ceiling and stapled a dish towel to slow any wind down, or catch snow blowing in (the barn roof is above the ceiling hole). The birds no longer roost under that vent in the ceiling, so I will probably block it off a little better. BUT, the Ammonia smell is gone.

Moral of the story is not to drive yourself crazy, these birds can, and do, live comfortably in the trees during snow storms and wind storms at -20*. They have the tools they need to live in these conditions. Anything you do, which is better than a tree, is an improvement to what they are designed to live in. Assuming you are not supplying them with hot tubs, brandy and poker chips. That's just creating bad habits.

Dead Rabbit

9 Years
Apr 28, 2010
good post wydolodge.

if cold weather kills them then they are suffering from some other problem FIRST. sickness, disease, old age, etc. these need culling out anyway. i have quite a few that live in the trees yr round even in rainy, icy weather.

my coop has two opening in gable ends 1'X2' and in worst weather this is all the openings there is. most the time there lil doors are open but when real bad i shut them too. i never have ammonia problems. and i have my rabbitry in same barn as fowl.


10 Years
Aug 18, 2009
n. california
This is my coop. We have clear boat vinyl that we pull down over the sides in the winter, but the rest of the year, it is open. I live in northern CA, and it rarely gets below freezing, but we do get a LOT of rain and wind. Occasionally rain does get in through the cracks, as does the wind. I haven't had any problems with sick hens.

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