Winter ventilation and how to deal with wind


Mar 2, 2018
Fargo, ND
Hello! We're converting a 13' x 13' x 8' shed into a coop. The plan is to leave 1' along the top of each wall open for ventilation (plus two large windows on the south side and a vent closer to the floor. There will also be a whirlybird on the roof to draw air through the coop. The roosts will be about 3' off the ground, so around 4' from the bottom of the vent opening. We'll be housing 15 birds this year.

My question is about ventilating in the winter. Where we live, -20 without wind is not uncommon. However, the wind blows pretty much constantly, so it get's cold. If I leave the vents open on the north and west side, there WILL be wind blowing into the coop. This is good, I imagine, for air exchange. So...

1. Should I leave the wall vents open to get better air flow and build some sort of baffle over the roosts to make sure no wind blows directly onto the chickens, or...

2. Should I just close the vents on the north and west sides to block the wind completely?

Thanks for any advice.
If you build a baffle the chickens will probably sleep on that instead of the roosts if they can. They don't always cooperate when you try something like that. Just think about that if you design one.

My gut feeling is that with the roosts fairly close to a wall with those elevations you will not have a strong breeze hitting them. That should work out really well. Putting the roosts on the upwind side of the coop will help even more with that, but I don't think you have to worry even if you don't put them there. If you have an opening at night under the roosts you might get a wind through there, mainly depending on which direction the wind comes from. That doesn't matter during the day since they are not on the roosts then.

Are you going to have a problem with rain or snow blowing in with those strong winds? Instead of thinking about the inside you may want to think about how you would address that with shutters or something else if that proves to be a problem. Rain and snow sometimes blow into mine but with good ventilation it dries back out before it causes a problem. That may be a reason to close those upwind vents when you have storms predicted. That whirlybird will move a lot of air with just a little wind. Just have a plan B in case.

And welcome to the forum, glad you joined.
Go into your coop when the winds are really blowing hard. Check to see if the chickens feathers are being moved/ruffled by the wind/draft.
Adjust your openings at that time.
Ditto Dat^^^

Posting pics of your coop, inside and out, might garner more specific suggestions.
You might want smaller/fewer vents/windows open in winter than in summer.
Open eaves can work very well in winter in combination with ridge gable vents.
Baffles are definitely an option, where and how to install them is variable depending on coop/window/vent configurations.

Welcome to BYC!
Thanks to all for the suggestions and the welcome! I haven't actually "coopified" the shed yet, but I've attached a couple photos of the structure as is.

For sure I'll close the north side during winter. The roosts will be on the west wall (second pic), which would put them upwind. I figured that would mean NO draft if I closed both north and west vents. I was planning on putting the ground level vents on the south and east sides. Pretty much no wind from that direction any time of year. No gable vents as it's got a hip roof.

As for the baffles, I was thinking of more or less making a box that would hug the rafters for about 3' and cover the end with hardware cloth. That would prevent them from getting up there. Pretty simple.

I think I'll go ahead and build the baffle, assuming I'll leave that west side vent open in the winter. I keep reading that ventilation is even more important in winter, and it gets COLD here, so I want to make sure I have access to enough even on the coldest days. Thanks for your patience. The engineer in me can't build anything without a plan or two or three... Haha.

IMG_20180303_084625955_HDR.jpg IMG_20180303_084922775.jpg
You're gonna have birds trying to roost on the cross beams. That could be a problem, and create extra frost bite issues for them. I would make those wall vents louvered to limit the likelihood of wet coming in!

Instead of leaving the top 12" of wall open all the way around the building, can you put soffit vents all the way around? I can't see if that's a possibility given pic #1.
Weird the way they mounted the rafter overhang let alone eaves.
Looks like some water damage om the under side of roof sheathing indicating shingles might be shot.
Might think about fixing that....will look closer tomorrow.
Thanks for the tips.

I could use soffit vents instead, yes. It'll be a lot less hassle to leave the top foot of the wall open though as the soffit is all sealed currently. My thought was to make a lid for those top vents that, while open, would serve the dual purpose of keeping rain and snow out by effectively extending the soffit. Hopefully that will keep the wet out. If not, I'll extend the fascia down.

As to the cross beams, would it work to build some sort of "tent" over them? Make the top into a steep triangle? I could remove them, but I'd rather leave them in if I can. If they roost up there, they'll be directly in the path of the wind though, so I'll remove them if there's no way to keep the birds off of them.

Thanks again.
Weird the way they mounted the rafter overhang let alone eaves.
Looks like some water damage om the under side of roof sheathing indicating shingles might be shot.
Might think about fixing that....will look closer tomorrow.

Haha. I see we think alike. It looks ugly, but the shed stays dry. The shingles are definitely on year 50 of a 30 year shingle though. I have a dozen bundles of shingles left over from another project, so I'm re-roofing it anyway. I'll replace any decking that needs it. There are eaves there. The angle of the pic makes it hard to see. Not as wide as I'd like, but it sheds water away from the siding, which is also in better shape than the pic shows. Again, looks ugly, but solid. That fascia finally just came loose this winter. Structurally, I'm not worried about the building though. It's built almost entirely of 2x6 and 1x lumber back when it was actually 2x and 1x. :)

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