Woods Coop in Canadian Winter a Good Idea?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Countrymanfowl, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Countrymanfowl

    Countrymanfowl Songster

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    I am currently in the process of reading the below book on Woods Coops.

    http://gnipsel.com/files/chickens/mfaph.pdf

    I am considering having one built on my property to house a number of chickens instead of using the plastic sheds I currently have. They have very poor ventilation and I'm thinking I need something different.

    But anyway, I live in Ontario Canada where winters get pretty rough and temps get cold. In January of last year temps were at around -35 C give or take a few degrees here and there. Some winters have been much worse, some have been better. From what I understand the Woods coop is an open front designed coop. With hardware cloth covering the front. Similar to the below picture.

    [​IMG]

    I know that many people have used woods coops in cold places but I am just trying to wrap my head around how having an open front like this in a place where winters get very cold would still be a safe idea for the chickens. I do realize that ventilation is more important than insulation though.

    I have asked around about drafts given the design and was told that this is where the "air cushion" effect comes in. That the wind causes cold air to enter the front but the cushion does not allow the air to penetrate all the way to the back where the chickens roost. I'm not really sure how this even works but trust the information given to me. But is the Woods style meant for colder regions or is it designed for more warmer ones? Or rather can a Woods coop perform well in colder conditions?

    Even with this knowledge I am looking to gather the experiences of people who have had or do have Woods styled coops and live in colder areas. Are the chickens fine? Do they get too cold? Would there be a better option given the information I have provided? What do you guys and gals think?
     
  2. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Crowing

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    I don't know much about the Woods Style coop, but the one concern I had - and which made me go another route - was snowfall.
    Did I really want to deal with trying to shovel the snow out of the front of the coop during the winter? I know myself well enough to answer with a definite no. No snow removal from the coop. Somewhere I read that some snow would enter the open front "but it wouldn't get to the back where the birds roost". But, my concern is that it will take up floor space and during winter, floor space is at a premium because this flock that I have now will not step out into the snow...

    Here in NE WI, my birds get locked in their coop during snow storms. They have been locked in (ie. pop door closed) for as long as a week because it snowed almost every day for over a week. They will confine themselves in the coop for longer periods, but during that time the pop door is open and they will stand on the "front porch" if I have it cleared of snow. My coop is a concrete room, un-heated, and not very well ventilated. I had a couple of roos get frostbite on the tips of their combs, but that was the worst that ever happened because of the cold - even though the moisture they give off forms frost on the walls. We get down to -36 at the coldest - so close to your temps, and the chickens seem to handle the cold very well. I have about 8" of bedding on the concrete floor and feed them some cracked corn in the evening to help them stay warm.
     
  3. jthornton

    jthornton Crowing

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    The Woods is designed for colder climates.

    JT
     
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  4. Countrymanfowl

    Countrymanfowl Songster

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    My only concern is the draft it may cause. I realize there is the air cushion effect (which I still don't fully understand yet) but my idea of a chicken coop is more like a barn. So no open area to the elements. But people have told me that this air cushion effect works and doesn't get to the birds. My concern is the drafts like I mentioned. How far can the wind get in a woods coop?
     
  5. jthornton

    jthornton Crowing

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    The ratio of depth to width is the key design feature of the woods poultry house. It provides draft free ventilation which is most important in the winter to allow moisture from breathing and pooping to escape and not condense on their combs and waddles and cause frost bite.

    JT
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Yes.
    ...and that there are no other openings except the big open front wall.
    You close all the other windows in a Woods during the winter so the air can't move thru the coop.
     
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  7. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Crowing

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    Chickens can take a lot of cold, as long as they can get out of the wind. Mother Nature gave them a nice down coat for the winter.

    Doesn't snow blow into the front area of the coop through that big open wall? I agree that it probably will not get into the back area where the roosts are, but I would think that it would drift into the front area.

    If the back area of the coop is all closed up and no drafts get to the back, how does the moist warm air from the chickens not cause condensation problems?
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Because the 'blow' stops pretty quickly.
    Not that no snow will come in, but it's usually minimal.
    IIRC, the few Woods(in heavy snow areas) documented here didn't have a problem with it. ( I think @Howard E had some pics?)


    Because there is still a huge air exchange.
     
  9. JackE

    JackE Crowing

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    The coop was designed to be used in cold climates. In the book, it is documented to have been used in -40 temps, up into Maine and Canada. With the open front, you get mass fresh air exchange, with Absolutely NO drafts, when it is in winter mode. (All windows shut). It just works through a kind of convection process. The warm air from the birds rises up and makes it's way out the front, while the cold fresh air is slowly drawn in to replace it.

    I've had 30 mph+ winds blow directly at the front of the coop, and the inside is as calm, as you sitting in your house watching TV on a similarly windy day. The wind does not penetrate into the coop, at all. As far as snow blowing into the coop, it's the same story. There will be NO snow drifts blow into a properly constructed Woods. At most, there may be a light dusting, but that is it. No measurable snow at all. With my coop, in the near 10 yrs since I built it, there has Never been any frost on the walls, a sure sign of high humidity, due to insufficeint ventilation.

    Chickens, unless you have some kind of thinly feathered, exotic breed, are built to handle the cold. What messes things up for them, is high moisture (Humidity), combined with the cold. A properly built Woods is the best coop your chickens can have. I have some friends around here, with one of those Amish coops, you see at the shed yards. IMO, pieces of junk. Not deep enough, drafty if you try to open the windows. Their birds in the winter always seem to have problems with frostbite, and sometimes respiratory issues. My birds have never had any problems like that. We get snow on the ground, they are perfectly content to stay in the coop, sometimes for weeks at a stretch. Pop Door is open, but they'll just stay in. Build one, best coop you can have.
     
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  10. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Crowing

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    Thank you for the explanations! It makes sense now.
    Sounds like a great system and I will definitely use that design if I need to build a new coop at some point.
     

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