Coop Ventilation And Why It Is Important

Everyone loves fresh air, poultry included! When chickens (and other poultry) breathe or produce waste, significant amounts of water is released into the air. This moisture-filled air causes humidity, which without proper ventilation, can cause frostbite, ammonia build-up, and other pressing issues.

Coop ventilation is important year-round. In the summer months, it helps keep your birds cool and their coop air ammonia-free. In the winter months, it helps prevent frostbite. Did you know ammonia is lighter than air? Providing proper ventilation up high in your coop allows ammonia to escape easily. No amount of ammonia smell in your coop is safe. Ammonia is very detrimental to poultry and corrosive. High amounts of ammonia present in your coop can cause damage to your bird’s sensitive respiratory system and can result in losses or expensive veterinary bills.

Even before coming to this blog, you may have heard about how important proper ventilation is, and how important it is to have a draft-free coop. So, how do you achieve a well ventilated but draft-free coop? It’s all about placement!

Ways to Ventilate Your Coop: 

  • Vents placed high above your perch/roosts are perfect for year-round natural ventilation.
  • Windows are excellent for hot summer months but do cause drafts, so they should be closed tightly for winter. 
  • Keeping your birds’ water outside their coop is another way to help prevent additional moisture build-up. 
  • Mechanical ventilation via fans is another option for those keeping chickens in barns or other more substantial spaces. Mechanical ventilation allows more significant air movement for larger spaces to help move the air around. You will want to get a fan that designed for dustier areas, so it doesn’t get clogged with dust and stop working. If you do not have electricity near your coop, there are some solar-powered options available as well. 
  • Wind Turbine Ventilation mounted on the top of your coop. When the wind blows, it will spin the blades, which will suck the air out of the space. Keep in mind this option only works when the wind blows, so you will want to make sure you have additional ventilation in your coop.

How Much Coop Ventilation is Needed?

Opening your coop door(s) every day provides some ventilation, but not enough. How much is needed? More than you’d think! In warm weather climates, the general rule of thumb is 1 square foot of ventilation per 10 square feet of coop floor space. In cold climates, all open vents should be well above your bird’s highest roosting point and under a cover so snow cannot get in.

An essential factor to remember when adding ventilation is to keep your ventilated areas predator proof with hard/welded wire cloth. Also, remember to add to your chicken cleaning checklist to regularly ensure all ventilation is free from dust/dander build-up. Winter is the most challenging time of the year to ensure your coop is adequately ventilated and draft-free. For more great tips, our blog on cold weather chicken coop prep can offer a few suggestions. 

Now that your coop is well ventilated, is it draft-free? Your chickens will appreciate the fresh air in the coop, but in the colder months will not like if the ventilation created is resulting in a draft. Create a draft-free coop by placing your year-round ventilation high above your chickens level. A good question to ask as you are putting ventilation is: “will my chickens experience a noticeable breeze and be cold if I place this here?”

Breeds By Climate

Another option when creating your ideal flock is to tailor the breeds to your climate by selecting Meyer Hatchery breeds labeled as cold/heat tolerant. Be sure to read our blog on selecting chickens breeds that handle winter well, as it is essential to pick breeds that do well in your climate. Overall, brown egg layers are cold and heat tolerant, but some of the breeds that are labeled very cold hardy. These breeds are Plymouth Rock, Speckled Sussex, Wyandotte, Orpington, Black Jersey Giant, Dominique, and Buckeye. A few breeds that are labeled heat tolerant are Egyptian Fayoumis, Leghorn, Andalusian, Polish, and Penedesenca.

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