Winter, the season of short days and long nights. Often, the skies are grey and snow filled and all I want to do is feel the warm sun on my face. Dreams of beach days, flip flops and warm breezes fill my thoughts. I imagine they fill the thoughts of most people on a cold snowy day.
You may have noticed that your chickens have slowed down or stopped laying. Energy and light are needed for egg production and will naturally slow in the winter months. Some people will use artificial lights to encourage winter laying. We do not. Instead, we try to utilize the light of the sun.
Windows are an important part of a coop, in my opinion. Like a cat, a chicken will find the beam of light coming through a window and warm themselves or decide it is a perfect place for a dust bath. When we built our coop, we put windows that slide open on the east side of the coop to take advantage of the morning sun. They bathed the coop in sunlight until well into the afternoon. Our chickens seemed to lay longer into the winter months as they had lots of natural light. But, then we moved and the coop moved too.
Our windows that were placed with the utmost planning and care were no longer east facing. In fact, they barely captured any sun at all. They are still great for ventilation and helping with a cross breeze in the warm months, but natural light they are not.
We had to add another window. Picking window placement can be hard in an already constructed coop. Egg boxes are already installed. Logistics can be a hard go. We decided to add the window to the large coop door. Our coop has a small door that is just for the flock to come and go and a large one that aids in my being able to clean out the coop and get to all the fun nook and crannies to find eggs. This larger door faces North East and gets a good amount of late morning and afternoon sun.
Height is also a consideration. Our coop is only 5 feet in height, so that limits the amount of wall space for windows. We chose to place the window at 3 feet from the floor of the coop, hoping that it will give an angle to the sunlight coming in that will cover the most ground with the beams of sun. This also should deter our chickens from easily pecking at the window causing scratches.
We chose to use a plexiglass for the windows in the coop. The plexiglass is stronger than single pane glass and still allows for heat conduction and light filtration. You get the benefit of natural light to heat your coop and the ladies will never know they do not have glass windows. They will find the sunny spot and enjoy for years to come.
Installing the plexiglass windows can be tricky. The acrylic is prone to cracking when drilled into. To avoid the cracks you can slowly predrill holes. We chose to use framing pieces to hold the windows into place, sandwiched in so to speak. The plexiglass was cut to be 1 inch larger than the window hole. We attaching wood framing and screwing that into place then were able to slide the plexi right in. This window is a stationary window that can not be opened.
Our once east facing windows were installed using tracks made from quarter round trim with a groove cut into it to make sliding the windows possible. We then used hardware cloth as a screen for those windows. This added an extra layer of protection when the windows are left open.
Whatever the design of windows in your coop, your birds will love the natural light that filters through. Be mindful when adding windows to placement. The window will allow some heat to filter through to your coop. Also, Chickens are not inherently born knowing what a window is and they are curious birds. Too low and they will peck at the windows.