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Keeping chickens has become a very popular hobby, but there are quite a few things you need to consider before getting your own chickens. There is a big learning curve involved and you will need to get very knowledgeable on the topic of chicken keeping if you want to keep chickens successfully. One of the key aspects of a healthy chicken coop is good ventilation, but how much ventilation does a chicken coop need?
As a guide, You need about 4 square feet of ventilation per coop in winter and as much as possible in summer. There are so many factors that will influence the amount of ventilation needed, things like bedding used, cleaning schedule, temperatures, humidity, chicken size etc.
Lots of things need to be considered to calculate how much ventilation your chicken coop needs. Let’s take a look at the most important things you should know.
- How much ventilation for chicken coop
- Why Do Chicken Coops Need Ventilation
- How do you increase ventilation in a chicken coop
- Chicken coop ventilation ideas
- Where to put chicken coop vents
- Should you put a fan in a chicken coop
- Chicken coop ventilation fans
- Chicken coop ventilation in winter
- Chicken coop ventilation vs draft
- Wrap Up
How much ventilation for chicken coop
Knowing how much ventilation does a chicken coop need, is very important, but what is ventilation exactly?
Ventilation is simply the exchange of air. Your chicken coop has air that builds up inside and that air needs to be exchanged with fresh air from the outside.
Many issues will come up if you are lacking proper ventilation, like too much moisture in the coop and gas buildup from chicken droppings.
A simple way to provide some ventilation is to install a vent in your coop. Larger coops might want to try a 12×12 vent. This one is a 10-inch gable vent (Amazon link) that would do a great job and keeping the air circulated within the coop.
If you have, say, a 4 x 8 foot, or even 6 x 12-foot coop then you might want to consider adding a 12″ x 18″ single window as it will not only add some light but also act as a great source of ventilation – read more on the topic in does a chicken coop need windows.
To know how much ventilation you need in the chicken coop you need to take all the variables into account.
- Some of these variables are:
- Type of bedding used,
- How often you clean the coop,
- If droppings boards are used or not,
- The daytime and nighttime temperatures,
- How much sun or shade the coop gets,
- Number of chickens per area,
- Size of the coop,
- Size and breed of the chickens,
- Amount of time that the flock spends in the coop.
As mentioned above, a chicken coop needs about 4 square feet of ventilation during winter weather – this is just a general estimate, and then all of the factors mentioned above will have an influence on the ventilation needed. The factors will influence ventilation as follows:
|Ventilation factor||Less ventilation needed||More ventilation needed|
|Chicken size||Smaller chickens||Bigger chickens|
|Time spent in the coop||Less time in the coop||More time in the coop|
|Cleaning schedule||More frequent||Less frequent|
|Temperatures||Cooler temperatures||Warmer temperatures|
|Humidity||Low humidity||High humidity|
|Chickens per area||Fewer chickens||More chickens|
|Size of coop||Bigger coop||Smaller coop|
A good way to go about it is to create as much ventilation as possible. Ventilation systems where it is possible to increase and decrease ventilation depending on what you need will work the best. With these systems, you can play around with the ventilation to see what the best balance is.
In winter months you can reduce the ventilation and in summer you can increase the ventilation. We will discuss methods to increase ventilation below as well as the best ventilation ideas that you can implement.
Why Do Chicken Coops Need Ventilation
All chicken coops need adequate ventilation to maintain a healthy living environment. If the ventilation is not enough there will be a dust and moisture buildup in the coop and this will lead to health hazards for your chickens. Good ventilation circulates the air.
Chicken coops are naturally full of dust and moisture. Even when a coop is properly waterproof, there is still moisture released from the chicken poop. This is why good ventilation is required to balance out this buildup.
Sufficient ventilation does not only remove moisture and dust, but it also brings in the fresh air that is healthy for breathing, it prevents rotting and deterioration, prevents condensation, prevents a build-up of toxic gases, prevents the growth of bacteria and viruses, removes bad odors, keeps the temperatures down and reduces the risk of diseases.
Without this ventilation all these factors will add up and who knows which one will kill the chickens first, but the sure that the coop will become a death trap without enough ventilation.
You should always try to learn from nature, nature has been doing things in a way that works for as long as there has been life on this planet. In nature, chickens will always be outside in the wild foraging for food. They will always have access to fresh air. The job of the chicken keeper is to keep the chickens in an environment that keeps them as happy as possible. And in terms of ventilation – that means as much ventilation as possible.
In short, chickens need ventilation to stay healthy and happy. In return, your chickens will provide you with a high egg production that will keep you healthy and happy.
How do you increase ventilation in a chicken coop
There are many ways in which you can increase ventilation in a chicken coop. This section will take a look at some of the most effective ways so that you can increase your ventilation.
The easiest and most economical way is to construct a chicken coop with good ventilation from the start, but of course, that is not always what happens.
You might have underestimated the amount of ventilation required when you first constructed the chicken coop and now you realize that the coop is stuffy and you need to increase it to get some more fresh air into the coop.
It might also be that the flock has grown and how the previously sufficient coop is getting a bit so overcrowded. These methods will get your coop properly ventilated in no time.
Ventilation Issues Quick Fix
As a quick fix, drilling some holes with a hole saw (Amazon link) to allow air to circulate would be a cheap and quick fix to the ventilation issue. Just attached these hole saw pieces to a drill and saw 2/3 holes near the ceiling of the coop.
Consider installing a gable vent. This will allow air to enter and clear the old stagnant air so your chickens have nice clean air circulating in their coop. this 10-inch gable vent (Amazon link) will work nicely. Consider the size of your coop, you may want a bigger vent. I go into more detail on this below.
It’s not so much a quick fix, but if you have the time and knowledge to install a fan, this might be an excellent way to get that air circulating. There are standard fans that plug into the mains, or Chciken Coop Solar Powered Fan (Amazon link) that run off solar power. I go into more detail on these below. Just don’t blow the fans directly on your chickens!
Use bedding that requires less ventilation
Different bedding types will require more or less ventilation. As mentioned in the table above, organic materials like straw or wood shavings will capture more moisture so they will need more ventilation.
Sand, on the other hand, does not hold moisture and it dries out quickly so if you use sand as bedding you need less ventilation. This is an easy and low-cost method of increasing the ventilation in your chicken coop.
Add dropping boards to the coop
Dropping boards are another quick and easy solution so have a better-ventilated coop. A dropping board is usually a plywood board that is placed under the roosting bars. These boards catch the droppings and stop them from entering the bedding.
The boards allow the droppings to quickly dry out and also to be cleaned easily.
This means less moisture in the bedding – less moisture in the coop – less gas buildup and thus less ventilation needed so the ventilation that you do have will go further.
Change your coop build or design
These methods will be looked at in more detail in the next section. Increasing ventilation might need some reconstruction of the coop. These ventilation ideas include adding things like open walls, electrical vans, ventilation vents, pop-up windows etc.
Chicken coop ventilation ideas
When you are constructing your chicken coop for the first time it is best to keep some ventilation ideas in mind and try to include as many of them as possible.
Even if you have already constructed your coop you can still make some alterations if needed. Some of the ideas are better to include from the start as an open wall and some of them are easy enough to build in even after construction like a pop-up window.
There are also two types of ventilation – passive and active. Passive ventilation makes use of the natural elements to keep the coop ventilated like a vent or window.
The other form is a more active form of ventilation like with an electrical fan or a wind turbine. These are some of the best active and passive chicken coop ventilation ideas.
- Mechanical fans
- Pop-up windows
- Open walls
- Floating roofs
- Roof vents
- Turtle vents
- Skylight vents
- Other forms of vents
- Open roof
- Holes in the walls or roof
Where to put chicken coop vents
To make sure that your vents (Amazon link) function properly you want to place them in the right spots. You might have many vents but if they are not correctly placed, they might not be of much help.
The best thing to keep in mind is that hot air is less dense in comparison with cold air so hot air will rise.
Use this logic to position your vents.
- Place vents at the bottom of the chicken coop as well as somewhere near the top.
This placement will allow the hot air to rise to the top and then escape through the top vents. This movement of air will pull in cooler air from the bottom vents and thus create a healthy circulation of air.
Hot and stuffy air doing out and cool fresh air coming in, that is exactly what you want for your chicken coop.
Should you put a fan in a chicken coop
Putting fans in a chicken coop (Amazon link)is a great way to get good ventilation by moving old air out and new air in. They are a bit of a pricey option but the results will speak for themselves.
Fans are a better choice for bigger flocks where you need to maximize the ventilation. It is the method used by most large-scale operations. In this way, you can have a safe coop that is mostly closed off but you can also have great ventilation.
Consider installing more than one fan, two and the least. In this way, one fan can bring in the fresh air and the other fan can push out the old air. You can place and at a lower location and one at a higher location to still make use of the natural airflow.
Electrical fans can also be combined with vents, for example, you can have one fan bringing in air and a bunch of vents letting air out.
We will discuss what type of fans you can use in the section below.
Chicken coop ventilation fans
Small Coop Solar Powered Fan (Amazon link)
Big Coop Solar Powered Fan (Amazon link)
Standard Powered Fan (Amazon link)
It is important to choose the right fan for the job. Chicken coops get very stuffy and have a lot of dust in them. This means that the fan will take a strain and will get very dirty. If you use just any household fan you might run into some serious trouble. Household fans are not created for such a workload so they will burn out very quickly and they might start a fire. This will be some seriously bad news, so make sure to use the right fan.
Some fans are designed for workshops or barns. These fans are heavy duty and they will be able to handle the dusty air.
Chicken coop ventilation in winter
In the winter months, you will not need as much ventilation as in the summer months. In winter the temperatures are colder so the coop will not get so stuffy and there will not be as much gas. This means you can have less ventilation.
To design a coop that has adequate ventilation for both summer and winter times, you need to construct it in such a way that you can increase and decrease ventilation. This can be done with windows, pop-up doors or vents that can open and close. It can also be done with electrical fans because you can increase and decrease the speed of the fans.
Chicken coop ventilation vs draft
An important distinction needs to be made between ventilation and a draft. Ventilation is a good thing and a draft is a bad thing. A draft is a flow of air that comes into the coop. This is normally an unwanted flow of air and can come from gaps in the wood and holes in the floor and roof.
A draft can bring in cold air when it is not wanted which will make the coop too cold. It can also bring in the air where the chickens are sleeping which will make them too cold at night.
Make sure the coop has good ventilation without any drafts coming in.
So, how much ventilation for chicken coop? You’ll need about 4 square feet per coop in the colder months. During hotter months your chickens will appreciate as much ventilation as they can get.
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