Will this building be ventilated enough?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BackyardDove, Aug 18, 2016.

  1. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Before I ask my question, it must be known that I live in central Texas. Temperatures in the summer months(late May-early November) EASILY reach over 100 degrees and can reach 115 degrees with the heat index. I'm sure it gets even hotter in enclosed buildings with little ventilation. Heat stroke and death is a very real and common thing for all animals here, including chickens, if proper precautions are not taken. So please, don't give me "this will probably work" advice. Many chicken lives are at stake here!

    Moving on, I've got a metal shed that's approximately 8x10. I've been making due with putting sick or baby chickens inside the house or on the back porch, but I've got a small house and an equally small back porch. They're almost always in the way and, as I'm sure we all know, chickens can get loud and this house has thin walls! So, I'm wanting to convert this shed into a recovery ward/baby chick building. Sick chickens will still be coming inside so I can monitor them, but there's no reason for me to keep chickens who're not sick, but not yet well enough to be with the others, inside the already cramped house. Especially if recovery can take months. The problem is this shed is, like I said, metal, and it's enclosed. As in, no windows. It is well covered by the tree beside it, but it still gets hot in there. I can leave the doors wide open, which means almost an entire side of the building is open, but again, it still gets hot. So what I'm thinking I may do is put a box fan in the building, and have it on it's highest or second to highest setting during the day. To prevent a rat infestation, I close the doors at night, but in the morning the doors are opened again. I have had broody hens incubate and raise chicks in that shed without even a fan on, just the doors open, so I suppose it doesn't get boiling hot in there. Is just putting in a fan enough, or is there something else I could do that won't break the bank? Should I also put a thermometer in there to monitor the temperature, and if so, what's the highest safe temperature for chickens?

    It may seem a bit odd that I own plenty of chickens and am asking this question, but, none of my coops are enclosed. At most, there is one solid wall, and the other walls are wire. I've had no deaths with this open air method, but I can't exactly do that with a metal shed!
     
  2. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Does your shed have wood studs or is it the kind that all the siding screws together? If you can frame up the walls, I would add windows for cross ventilation. Last year we dropped the temp in my father in laws metal shed by 10 degrees by adding an opening opposite his main doors. He put a fan in just to drop it a little more after that. You definitely need a thermometer in there too.
     
  3. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure what you're talking about, but there are no wood studs. Everything is metal and the siding is one big piece. Putting in a window opposite of the doors wouldn't help much, there's a fence right behind the shed.
     
  4. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    The only thing that I can think of that won't "break the bank" is adding some type of opening from the rear of the shed. Right now you have a 3 sided metal box that acts like an oven. Adding the fan will suck some of the heat out the door, but not a lot. If you can make holes in the walls at the back of the coop, air can come in from one side and go out the other. Rather than air sitting still inside the coop and getting heated up, it flows through and stays a little cooler. The inside temp will stay the same as the temp outside, instead of being hotter than the outside. Even if the opening is not directly opposite of the door, make it towards the back corner, as far from the door as possible.
    I hope that was clearer.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Guess I'll play the "bad guy" here and say that if I lived with temperatures like that the last place I'd want to house any chickens would be in a metal shed where I couldn't put in windows. There is no real hard and fast exact temperature that is bad for chickens, so although putting a thermometer in there to monitor isn't a bad idea, it's kinda pointless if you can't do anything to change the number on it anyway. Temperatures aren't the only issue with chickens....ammonia from feces and lots of dust can build up fast, and can make chickens very sick. Good ventilation and cross flow are critical for them. A fan would help, but without any fresh air, all it's going to do is blow around the air that's already in there. Even with a fence directly behind the shed, there should still be more air flow with a window than without it. @Dmontgomery is absolutely correct when he (or she) said if you can't put in a window at least get some kind of openings back there to get some air in. And there are still two other sides...even a window diagonal to the doors would be better than what you are currently looking at.

    The other thing that hit me in reading your post was that you bring sick chickens into the house and that they always get underfoot and it can get noisy. Sick from what? How many sick chickens are we talking about here and how often? I may be reading something into your post that isn't really there, but it does sound like you have to take them in the house a lot, especially if you also feel the need to convert an entire shed into a convalescent facility. My sincere apologies if I'm off base and misread something, but with this format all I have to go by is what you've said, and I don't mean to imply that you aren't doing a good job. Anyone can have a sick or injured chicken, right? But if you're dealing with some kind of infectious or environmental problem then it's a good idea to take stock of where that might be coming from, too.

    It's always smart to have a place where you can keep chickens until they recover from whatever it is that's ailing them, so I am certainly not taking issue with that idea at all. And I brood my chicks outdoors from the start, so I definitely think that having a safe place to do that is a good idea too, especially if the other birds can see them and get used to them. Common sense, however, says that if you take a chicken that is already stressed from being hurt or sick, put her in the house for a while, then move her again to a secondary housing area to finish recovering, she stands a better shot of getting better if the convalescent housing is airy, light, and comfortable. I live in a very small house here too.....a 1976 single wide mobile home doesn't allow much room for extra critters.....so I sure do get what you're saying about needing extra space when problems come up. I am just not sure a tight, metal shed in the Texas heat is it - at least not without some serious modifications.

    Good luck.....it sure sounds like you want to do the best you can for your birds and that can only be good!!
     
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  6. henless

    henless Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have to agree, Texas summers are hot & humid!!

    Your metal building will work if you modify it. Your tin roof won't be a problem. It's the metal walls that will hurt you. With the door open & a fan, it still won't be enough breeze to cool them off. Put some windows in those walls so you can get some cross ventilation. The bigger you can make them to better.

    What about the floor? Is it dirt or wood? You will need to put an apron around it to prevent predators from digging in if it has a dirt floor. If your planning on leaving the door open, if you could make a screen door, it will still allow air flow but keep out predators and keep the well chickens from interacting with the sick ones.

    I have 3 open air coops. They have a tin roof with hardware cloth walls. I have lots of air flow, but I still turn on a fan in the summer.

    What kind of coop do you have your chickens in now?
     
  7. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're going to house sick adult chickens along with baby chickens? Injured chickens shouldn't be a problem, but a chicken recuperating from a sickness or disease seems like a bad idea as baby chicks immunity levels are pretty low. [​IMG]

    A metal building in the southern heat will need some serious ventilation. Standard thought is to have one square foot of permanent, never closed ventilation per large fowl, adult chicken. Leaving both doors open will probably give you that much ventilation area, most likely more. This would work great in the cold winter but not so good in the hot summer. In the winter that would work good for air exchange for getting rid of moisture while giving the chickens a safe place to be out of the wind and weather. Chickens deal with "cold" good....especially the moderate cold that you experience...it's a cakewalk for chickens. In the summer the open doors will still let the moisture out, but the heat build-up can become deadly as chickens don't deal so well with heat. I would be sure the entire building is shaded...if a wall or something gets hit by sunshine it will heat up tremendously...lean some boards against the side or cover with a dark tarp or large pieces of cardboard, anything to block off the solar gain. For summer heat a large "flow through" type of ventilation is needed. Since you have only one wall that can be opened (doors) you can't achieve an air-flow through the building in one side and out the other....the fan would have to do this in a circulation fashion. Placed high up in the building to move the upper hot air out through the top portion of the door opening and hopefully creating an air current to pull cooler air at the bottom of that opening might work. Might. Put the fan out there and see what happens. A thermometer would be helpful in seeing if the fan helps....do a before and after temperature comparison.

    Having said all of that... :) If you time your baby chicks brooding you could use the building in cooler (spring/fall) times to brood them. Be prepared to introduce them to the chickens in the regular coop/run when the time comes. As for sick chickens, hopefully you don't have but one or two every now and then. Could you possibly build a lean-to elevated wire cage shed on the shaded side of the metal building? I'm not sure of your predator situation so that's a wildcard. You literally could build a table and place large wire cages on top of it. Add a small shed/sloped roof above it to protect the patients from rain...could be made out of most anything that is waterproof that can be attached to a framework...old politician signs, pieces of tarps, plastic-wrapping off of shipping boxes, scraps of old roll-roofing, tarpaper, garbage bags, scrap tin, etc.,. Naturally the more fragile material will have to be replaced occasionally. Cages can be made from welded wire/hardware cloth, and hog rings and pliers. Or you could just build the cages on a wooden framework with integrated roof and all. I'm just not sure how much you would want to invest in a project like that.

    Leaving the double doors open will be a must...and may just be enough along with the fan and the shade trees...

    Bottom line, though, is that without confirmed, adequate ventilation I would pass on using this metal building for full-time chicken housing. Seasonal in cool times...maybe.

    Best wishes,
    Ed
     
  8. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Whew, okay, since it'll take me forever to answer each individual person, and a lot of the questions are repeat questions, I'm just gonna make a general post to everyone.

    [​IMG]

    This is the picture of the shed. The reason why there's stuff in front of it is to keep my goats from getting into it, and the doors are mostly closed due to the rains here. It has a wooden floor. I got the shed primarily to store my feed and animal supplies, but found that I'll have enough left over room to put in a table and a couple cages and still have a comfortable amount of space leftover. So, on it's left side, there's feed and stored supplies, and on the right will be a small table with two or three cages on it. The back of the shed will have shelves and such. So no, I don't get a ton of injured chickens and I usually let my girls hatch their eggs, so I don't get that many chicks either. I rarely ever get any sick chickens, but as I've already said(though this seemed to be missed by some..) they won't be put in the shed anyways. This shed will be more of a 'just in case' I do hand raise some chicks or get an injured chicken or two. What made me think of doing this is because I have two injured chicks right now, one who was picked on by her nest mates will be completely healed in about a month and another chicken who was attacked by a rooster and is looking at at least a year recovering. Both are doing fine, they just need time and isolation. Due to a lack of space, the chick who's going to need longer to recover has been inside, but I can't keep her in here for forever. I live in a tiny 1930's house, I have literally no room for chickens inside. Currently she's in a small cage beside and partially obstructing the back door. I didn't explain all this because I didn't think I really needed to.

    Though it is all metal and it does get hot here, a fully metal building can still be used as an animal shelter especially with doors as big as the ones I've got. Theoretically, I can cut a window into the sides, but cutting it, framing it with wood, making it into an actual window... Not only would it be a major pain in the ***, it won't be cheap. What I can do though is I can drill holes into the sides.
    I have two coops and I'm working on a third. The first has one solid wall for severe wind breakage, with the three other walls just being chicken wire, and a metal roof. The second has a tin roof and no solid walls, all the walls are chicken wire. The third has a tin roof three solid walls, but two of the walls have large windows on them, and the fourth wall is chicken wire. All three of my coops and their runs are under tree shade and I've never had to put a fan in any of the coops, so long as my chickens have access to water that they can dunk their feet in.
     
  9. SlipsWife

    SlipsWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't read many responses but wanted to chime in. We're in Odessa (Marble Falls is 'home'). Our coop is an 8w x 12l (it's tall but I'm not sure if the height) foot metal building that was here when we moved in. The previous owner must have used it as an animal shelter of some type because On one side, there's a cutout that's just shy of 4ft x 6ft. The flooring is hardy board. It's shaded by pecan trees at all times during the day in the summer, we had a shade cloth over the run, it was more to keep chickens in, but we've expanded the run and clipped wing so we didn't replace the cloth.

    It's worked perfectly fine for us. During the winter we sometimes put a board up to help block the wind if it's wet and windy but rarely. I don't know if it would be ideal for an unhealthy chicken who might need better climate control while healing but we've put our brooder box out there, covered with wire so the adults couldn't get to them, and chicks from a day old have been fine, from March-May, we haven't had younger chicks during the heat of the summer before. You could easily add a water mister on a timer that could help cool things off for a few minutes a few times during the hottest part of the day. It's something we looked into but didn't need to do.

    Keep in mind, ours is attached to their run so if they are uncomfortable during the hottest part of the day they can move around but we never had a chicken overheat or get sick. I had every intention of selling the shed and putting in a wood coop but I'm glad we gave it a chance. There is no insulation from about 3 foot down, there's a styrofoam board type insulation from 3ft-8ft high, the roof is A frame so it's a couple of feet higher and no insulation. I can't say if the small amount of insulation that is there helps or not but I wanted to add that it's there. No other windows, there's a door at the front that's metal, I had thought about replacing it with a screen door for extra ventilation but it hasn't been necessary.
     
  10. henless

    henless Chillin' With My Peeps

    All your coops sound like they should work in our weather. The only thing I would change is your wire. Chicken wire is good for keeping in/out chickens, but almost any predator can tear through chicken wire easily. I would recommend 1/2" hardware cloth, but that is up to you.

    I like where this shed is. Lots of shade!! I still think you need to add more ventilation. You could leave the metal doors but put some screen doors on the inside. Then you could leave the metal doors open but still keep the chickens safe. I would seriously think about putting in at least one window or make a partial wire wall. You could convert half of the shed into a coop and leave the other half for storage. You could even attach a small run to allow they chickens or babies to get outside.

    I found these on the internet:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The first one would be perfect for what your wanting. I'm posting a link to the article about how they made this one. From ugly shed to trendy chicken coop. Good luck!
     

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