Winter Open Air Coop and Free Ranging in Cooler Climates?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TallJ, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2013
    It seems everyone on here is buttoning up for winter. This is our first one with chickens, and I've been reading about open air coops. Who out there is doing open air coops in areas where you do get cooler weather?
    I am just north of the Mason-Dixon line. It does get cold, but usually not too low for too long. We get some snow, the occasional blizzard every few years, freezing nights, but days below freezing are not a given. We have an Amish built coop, so not true open air. My plan is to keep the front windows cracked an inch or so, and the back vent open. The windows are facing south, an the big door is to the west, where our wind usually comes from.
    We have had a couple of freezing nights so far, and all 13 girls piled in and seemed fine in the morning. (It seems that the guinea hens get a memo on which nights will get to freezing, because those are the only nights they have gone in the coop too!) Our nesting boxes are along the floor, so deep litter isn't an option. We have sand in the coop, and it seems to work well. We free range and my plan is to put a few bales of straw as a windbreak under an evergreen that the girls like to congregate under.
    So, who is doing open air and free range, and do you have any winter tips??

    [​IMG]Back Vent [​IMG]Front windows (before the coop was on site)
    [​IMG] Some of the front yard free range area
    [​IMG] Foraging along the back wood line
  2. "Open air coop"? Sure looks like a well built normal coop to me. Fresh air circulation is a good thing, just not drafts.

    I'm in northern cal where winters aren't too severe, so my chickens free range year round. They have some outdoor shelter in the event of rainy or snow days but as often as not they find their own 'shelter' under some overhanging plants somewhere.

    I'm jealous of that roomy, good looking coop - but if it were me, I'd grt the nest bixes up off thefloor for easier egg access and cleaning.
  3. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2013
    Well, it IS a regular coop.[​IMG] I wanted a more open air one, but it got to be "we HAVE to get this brooder out of the garage!!", too many projects, not enough time, and we got a really, really great deal. We have it up on blocks at the house, so I don't have to bend down to get them from the outside. Or at least once they start laying I won't!

    I was wondering if there was anyone out there who is doing open air coops for some more input on winter and open air.....????
  4. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2013
    I guess also what I am asking is if the flow from the front vents to the back one is considered good, or bad???

    It seems that everything says drafts are bad, but airflow is good, and those that do open air say it is the best, but where does this fit in - or does it - to trying to do open air??? Looking if anyone on here does open air in cool/cold winters.....
  5. Primo

    Primo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2013
    Not quite sure what you mean by open air. To me, here in the south, that might mean 4 poles in the ground with a roof. Or a 1,2 or 3 sided coup. I think you mean open ventilation? As it stands your coup will be fine as is with no mods and yes you can leave the ventilation you have open. By drafts I think what most people mean is large open areas for wind to blow right through the coup. I grew up in Mass. and my grandfather even had a few 3 sided coups for his game birds. They did just fine.
  6. sepaditty1

    sepaditty1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2008
    South Carolina
    I have a large fenced in run with a tree in the middle. One side of it is my shed which has an overhang and a cement patio. That's all they have. They roost in the tree and the nest boxes are a cupboard that is built into the exterior shed wall, so they are covered by the over hang. I'm guessing that's what you mean by open air coop? It's really just a fenced in section of yard.

    Now, this is going to be our first winter with them. I'm in SC, so it won't be too severe. I plan on putting a temporary wall up perpendicular to the shed so that they will have a wind break.
  7. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Below is a pic of my Wood's style open-air coop. Going into my fourth year with this coop, and it has been a great coop for me, (And especially for the chickens). It is a proven 100yr old design, so I really didn't expect anything else. The back of the coop is built tight, so the wind doesn't just blow straight through. But, with the front wide open, it gets all kinds of fresh air exchange/ventilation. In the warmer months, all the other windows, plus the main door, gets opened up.
    I used to free-range, but the local foxes started to turn it into an open buffet. I now have the coop surrounded by 600' of electrified poultry net. They get to come out every now and a again, if somebody is there to watch them. But they seem quite content in their safe area.

  8. Gorgeous coop. Color me jealous
  9. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    I don't have an open air coop(but i am familiar, read the book lol) but my hens don't have any fancy heated coop either, they forage about in winter and cool days... we were a whopping +3C(so 37F roughly) and they were happily foraging about the farm till dusk then went in their coop, they have a ramp with a chicken door...
  10. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2013
    JackE - that is exactly what I was talking about. Where in NE MD are you??
    Going Quackers - yes, I have the book too!!!
    My coop is not as big as a true old fashioned open air coop, so that is what concerns me. So, you do you think that having the front windows cracked and the back vent open is too much, or fine?

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