When you are buying or building a chicken coop, there are many factors that you need to pay attention to.
where would you put the coop? Would you use sand or shavings as bedding? How many chickens will you be able to keep inside?
One question that so many people fail to ask themselves is how much ventilation does a chicken coop need?
Ventilation is an important feature of a chicken coop, barn, or any other facility used to house animals.
You can always “fake it until you make it.”
However, ventilation is important to prevent a variety of diseases and conditions in your flock, while taking advantage of things like fans to improve ventilation in an existing building.
Here is some information that should prove valuable if you are curious about how to improve the ventilation in your chicken coop.
Benefits of a ventilated chicken coop
There are many benefits to a ventilated chicken coop – but these should be seen as more of a necessity than a benefit. You can’t go without them!
The most important reason to make sure your coop is well ventilated, high levels of humidity make chickens more likely to suffer from various respiratory diseases and frostbite.
Breathing problems can occur in both hot weather and cold. Adding ventilation is important regardless of where you live or the time of year.
Adding more ventilation to the coop helps to remove moisture and moisture from the coop. This makes it easier for them to breathe.
If you’ve been outside on a day with air humidity of 75%, you know how difficult it is to breathe normally in that humidity. Don’t do this to your chickens – upgrade ventilation for them!
How Much Ventilation Does a Chicken Coop Need?
Many different variables affect how much ventilation is required for a chicken coop.
However, you can generally estimate that a coop needs about 3-4-square-feet of ventilation in the winter months. This can include things like pop doors, windows, vents, or human-sized doors.
In hot weather, even more ventilation is needed to keep the coop from overheating and becoming stuffy.
However, if you live in a cold climate, creating more ventilation in the winter requires you to strike a difficult balance. You should be able to create ventilation without creating dangerous drafts.
Therefore, your goal when adding ventilation to the coop should be to add as much ventilation as possible without introducing harmful drafts.
Drafts aren’t bad in the summer – you only need to open as many windows as you can! It’s in the winter that you’ll need to watch out for drafts, so it’s smart to make sure your coop has vents and windows that can open and close as needed.
Here are some more variables to consider:
- Moisture – The more humid it is, the more ventilation you’ll need, as it makes it more difficult to cool down in the summer or stay dry in the cold.
- chickens per square foot – The more chickens you have, the more ventilation you need
- breed type Larger chicken breeds require more ventilation than smaller breeds (they are breathing, hunting, eating, etc.), as do breeds that do not do well in heat
- time of year – Weather is the biggest indicator of how much ventilation a coop needs (more in summer, less in winter) but don’t forget that your coop needs ventilation all year round.
Tips for adding more ventilation to an existing chicken coop
While it’s easiest to invest in or build a chicken coop that has great ventilation from the start, these tips will help you modify or upgrade your coop to ventilate as quickly as possible.
1. Rethink the Bed Type
This is a very simple way you can improve the humidity level in your coop.
If you use organic bedding—which is generally recommended for most backyard shrubs—you’ll need more ventilation.
There are countless benefits associated with using organic bedding like wood shavings and straw, but sadly, it doesn’t remove moisture as much as sand does.
It also makes it easier for pathogens to enter and break down, meaning not only is more moisture trapped in the air, but odors, pathogens, and potentially harmful gases as well.
If you’re concerned about ventilation and can’t undertake any of the other upgrades mentioned below on this list, switching to a sand bed is a quick fix. This will not support pathogen growth and will dry out the chicken poop more quickly.
You can also consider cleaning the coop more often.
The deep litter method is a great way to keep your chicken coop clean and warm without relying on a lot of manual labor. However, the more often you change bedding, the more often you are removing damp droplets from the coop.
2. Can you use a dropping board?
Another quick fix to add ventilation is to put a dropping board in the coop.
Dropping boards are pieces of material (such as plywood) that can be placed under a roasting bar to catch any drops.
These do not reduce how much manure is produced. However, they all make it very easy to clean without replacing the bedding.
You can also fill trays with kitty litter or sand and place them under the roasting bar. This quick fix will remove a lot of the moisture from your coop!
3. Try an Open-Wall Coop
This fix will not work for those who keep chicken in cold climates. However, if you live in the tropics, consider building an open-walled coop.
The more airflow you have, the cooler and less humid your coop will be.
In this system, most or all of the walls will be made of hardware fabric. Your chickens will still be protected from predators but they will be more comfortable in hot, humid weather.
4. Add Some Fans
Consider adding some barn fans to the chicken coop. This will help cool your chickens and have more air flow inside the coop. Just make sure you use a barn fan and not a household fan, which can overheat and turn into all the dust.
5. Improving Insulation
Insulation can be life-changing when it comes to keeping a coop cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
While many people think that insulation is the opposite of ventilation, the reality is that both are necessary.
Make sure your coop is well insulated. This will allow you to improve ventilation in winter without necessarily introducing drafts.
6. Adjust ceiling height
If you’re building or buying your own chicken coop now and are looking for preventive ventilation tips, here’s a great one.
Reconsider ceiling height.
The higher the ceiling in your coop, the less moisture will be concentrated directly on your hens. Instead, moisture will build up, and if your coop has vents, it will be able to escape.
If your ceiling is low, you can still use vents. However, the higher the ceiling, the better.
7. Add a Run or Allow Free Ranging
It’s not a good idea to leave your chickens locked up all the time.
However, if you’re not letting your chickens out, you’re doing them a disservice in the ventilation department as well.
If you are able, consider adding a run to the coop or allowing them to free-range.
This will reduce manure in the coop (therefore less moisture build-up) and allow the chicks to get some fresh air in their lungs as well. It’s a double whammy!
8. Rely on the Vents in Winter
Vents are helpful in winter, especially if they are located high above your chickens’ heads. This will allow warm, moist air to go and cool, dry air to enter. Just make sure they are not on the same level as your chickens when they are roasting. This can lead to drafts and frostbite.
9. Aim for Cross-Ventilation
A screen door can help add some cross-ventilation to a coop. This is very important when you consider ventilation as a whole.
Just make sure it’s closed securely and covered with a predator-resistant material like hardware cloth.
Another way to improve cross-ventilation is to leave your pop door open during the day. This will allow fresh air in while stale air can escape through holes near the ceiling.
If that isn’t an option, then something as simple as venting in different vertical locations should help.
How do I know if my chicken coop has adequate ventilation?
So how can you tell if your chicken coop has adequate ventilation?
There are a few simple signs to watch for.
The most likely sign that your coop lacks a ventilation department is if there is condensation. If you see condensation on the roof, it may not necessarily mean that the entire coop needs better ventilation. This could mean that the roof needs insulation.
However, if you see condensation indoors, such as on window panes, it is a sign that more ventilation is necessary.
If you see damp spots in the coop that can’t be explained by leaky water or anything else, that’s another sign.
Another indicator of poor ventilation is being smelly despite being cleaned regularly. If your coop always smells like compost, even though you’re cautious about cleaning it up, it may be time to upgrade your ventilation.
As you can see from the suggestions above, adding more ventilation is not a difficult task. Follow these tips to set up yourself and your flock! – For success.
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- 1 Benefits of a ventilated chicken coop
- 2 How Much Ventilation Does a Chicken Coop Need?
- 3 Tips for adding more ventilation to an existing chicken coop
- 4 How do I know if my chicken coop has adequate ventilation?