Ventilation, let’s talk about it and the importance it plays on chicken health.
With the colder weather approaching many of us, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing our coops. If you’re a new chicken parent and this is your first winter with chickens, check out my blog post here for helpful tips on having your coop ready.
Unlike in warm months when our coops are opened up and nice warm air circulates, in colder months it usually means closed doors and windows. It’s important to have proper ventilation in order that ammonia fumes can be removed from the coop. Chickens create quite a lot of body heat and huge amounts of water vapor, partly through breathing out, and largely through their poop. Ammonia build up causes issues to the chickens respiratory tract and other nasty respiratory “bugs” that may be in the environment. If you happen to house ducks with chickens, you’ll find an incredible amount of moist air and ammonia can build up since the ducks stay on the floor and can poop out way larger amounts of waste than the chickens can. Ducks also generally are moister just in their own right.
Another reason for ventilation is that while it helps circulate the air in summer time, in the winter months it helps prevent frostbite from all the moist “frozen” air inside the coop.
Ventilation in the coop can be as simple as holes drilled under the eaves, or a small opening on either end of the coop (as shown in our coop), or as elaborate as a ventilation system. Be sure to secure hardware cloth over any openings to keep out any type of predators.
Ventilation is a good thing, drafts are a bad thing! Any type of ventilation should be placed higher than the chickens to insure they won’t be getting hit by drafts. You want air circulation but not drafts in a chicken coop. Drafts in the coop during the winter is never a good thing.