by Jennifer Burcke
Photos by author
This year, I found myself begging for mercy. We rang in the new season with three successive days of temperatures over 90 degrees accompanied by unbearable humidity. I know that we were not alone. One look at a national weather map left me literally seeing red from sea to shining sea.
We’ve had good success helping our hens beat the heat by cooling them down from the inside out. They happily eat any cold treat we bring their way on a hot day. Their favorite cold snacks are icy watermelon chunks, chopped fruit popsicles, frozen blueberries, and frozen yogurt. If bits of frozen strawberry yogurt hit their bowl, a free-for-all ensues.
In minutes, we knew that we had found the new vent door. By using the existing hinges, it could be lifted up in the summer and lowered in the winter. The drawer hardware was moved to the center of the door and the door was trimmed to fit. A small piece of wood attached to the coop could be adjusted to keep the vent fully open in the summer and slightly ajar in the winter.
We painted the door and located the vent on the wall directly behind the roost. We attached hardware cloth on the inside of the coop to keep the predators out and the hens in. When the vent door is opened, it gives our girls a steady supply of fresh air day and night. During the day, the hen’s access door is also open to the outdoor run, providing a secondary vent on the rear wall.
To increase our chances of capturing as much fresh air as possible, we also installed a screen door. My father constructed the door frame from wood that was painted to match the coop before hardware cloth was attached to the inside. During the warm months, the exterior door of the coop can be latched open to allow more fresh air to enter the coop while keeping our hens safely enclosed. Together, the window, vents, and screen door allow hot air to escape the coop as cooler, fresh air enters through the window and screen door.