Ventilation of the poultry house is important and necessary for the health of the chickens. Good ventilation of the poultry houses makes it possible to distribute ammonia from chicken manure. This prevents it from accumulating and turning into a toxic gas, which can cause stress or health problems for your chickens.
In addition, chickens constantly release moisture from their breath and body heat. In a closed poultry house this can lead to unhealthy values.
Uncontrolled humidity is also a cause of mould and fungi, which can lead to respiratory problems.
The ventilation of the poultry house is also an integral part of the internal temperature control. When the temperature is low and humid, sufficient ventilation can ensure healthy air and prevent unnecessary cold or rain.
In warm weather, ventilation helps to maintain a comfortable temperature in the poultry house. Ventilation is even more important:
- when your poultry house is exposed to direct sunlight.
- if your poultry house is not properly insulated
- in case your chicken coop is made of a hot material like corrugated iron.
There are many ways to ensure that the poultry house is ventilated, but it is important to do it properly. Simply adding a window or opening a poultry house can’t be enough. The air flow must be sufficient to maintain the health of the chicks.
What is the most suitable type of barn ventilation?
There are basically two ways to ventilate the chicken coop:
- Make a window or a hole and cover it with a net of fittings.
- Buy a metal ventilation hole, such as that used in attics, and install it in the wall of the henhouse (it should also be safely covered with gauze).
Metal air vents are better protected against rain, but offer a lower air flow than a window. If you choose to use them as your primary method of ventilating your home, you will need to use them often.
At least one square metre of air should be ventilated for each hen in the cage, and more if your cage can be very hot in summer.
If your barn is too small for sufficient ventilation openings or windows, it may be necessary to add a mechanical air circulation system, such as a fan or turbine, to ensure sufficient air circulation and fresh air.
You can install a wind turbine on the roof of your chicken coop. When the wind blows, it pushes the turbine blades out and pulls the indoor air up and into the chicken coop. They are efficient ventilation systems, but they cannot be the main source of airflow because they generally do not circulate enough air and only work when the wind is blowing. On fixed days they are not good for chickens.
We use mechanical fans to increase the airflow in our poultry house, because it has fewer and fewer windows. It is preferable to use a mechanical fan as an extractor in the wall and in the supply air, rather than directing it to an extractor. We placed two small fans outside at the top of the henhouse.
Please note that the house fan is not durable enough to withstand the dusty environment of the poultry house; you need a fan designed for use in a poultry house or workshop that is more expensive.
Do not rely on a mechanical barn ventilation system as the only way to ventilate. Exception would be if it was specially designed for the airflow in your henhouse. This is usually a more expensive solution.
If possible, add at least one square metre of windows or vents per bird. Mechanical systems should replenish this natural passive airflow during the warm months or when necessary.
Location of ventilation openings
The location of the ventilation openings is an important design consideration. Installing a large number of windows does not necessarily allow air to circulate inside the house, dissipating heat, moisture and harmful gases to the outside and away from the chicks.
Some important facts to keep in mind:
- Warm air goes up while cold air goes down.
- The chickens sleep on the floor, on the chicken coop…
- As a rule, they are more resistant to the cold because they are insulated by their feathers.
- Chickens are less resistant to heat because they cannot reduce their body heat by sweating.
So, to ensure good air circulation:
- Place the ventilation on opposite walls, if not on all walls, so that the air can circulate in the room.
- Place the vents higher on the wall than the house, but not directly above, so that the warm air can escape, but the chickens do not sleep in the cold draught.
- In warm climates another ventilation point(s) should be added to the wall so that cool air can circulate downwards and warm air can escape through the top vents.
Extra tips for barn ventilation
Ventilation is necessary all year round, even in cold weather. If your poultry house is well ventilated, chickens tend to tolerate cold temperatures. The most important thing is that the air indoors does not accumulate too much moisture. If the air in the barn is humid because of the birds’ droppings and exhalation, they are more likely to freeze.
To improve ventilation without causing draughts or letting rain in, there are many people:
- install their main vents high up on the wall.
- Chicken coop
- along the entire length of the wall.
In warm climates, adding another source of air below the barn keeps it cool. However, pay attention to the resulting airflow. You want to prevent the cold air from flowing horizontally over the ground on which the chicks walk. Also try to avoid a vertical flow of air directly behind the bush where they sleep.
Use galvanized fittings to seal all openings in the poultry house. Don’t forget that you don’t want parasites to go in through the holes, or predators to go in through the holes to catch the chicken.
If you make it so safe that the predator can push or pull it without moving it, it should be strong enough to protect your chicks. We like to check the security of our network several times a year to make sure it is still well established.
Advice on ventilation of poultry houses
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Ventilation in poultry houses is essential for the good health and welfare of your chickens, and it is getting better and better. Think not only about the size of the ventilation openings, but also about their layout to ensure good and regular air circulation in your poultry house.
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