Whether you are looking at new coops, or contemplating constructing your own for your chickens, the topic of windows will certainly come up at some point. Do you need them? Are they considered a necessity and are there any benefits to having them? I spent some time researching to find out what the majority of chicken keepers recommend.
So, do chicken coops need windows? It is generally advised that your chicken coop has windows. Windows let in light which is crucial for egg production, air flow and fresh air for ventilation, and enable your birds to look outside and see what is going on.
In fact, when researching into the topic and finding out how fundamental they are, 23/25 keepers recommended them.
And what I found routinely coming up was with those keepers who did not have windows; were looking to introduce them to their coop.
Thankfully, it does not usually have to be investing in a new coop altogether – although that certainly is an option.
Instead, you can typically make and install your own windows relatively cheaply. But more on that latter.
Let us now take a closer look at the main questions related to the topic, and explore it all in further depth.
Do Chicken Coops Need Windows For Light?
Windows let in more light. There is no denying that fact. Although, whether or not a chicken coop needs windows for light will depend on several different factors; the size of the coop, your location, and how you are keeping and raising your birds.
For instance, chickens that free roam are going to get much more natural sunlight than birds kept inside for longer periods of the day.
Some birds only head inside when laying an egg or roosting. For these, windows are obviously less important and unlikely to make as much as a difference. Even if they are nice to have.
However, if you are keeping your birds inside for longer periods, or they are in a run that is mostly in the shade, windows are definitely more important.
But again its not that simple. We also have to consider the coop itself.
Now depending on how it is constructed, what materials are used, where it is positioned and where you are in the world; a coop without windows may still actually let in quite a decent amount of light.
So, it is all going to come down to your setup.
Either way, remember this: hens require 14 hours of daylight each day for optimal egg laying.
Are your flock getting this?
In the summer it is much easier, but in the winter it can be a challenge.
This is why some keepers turn to artificial lighting during this season to keep their birds at ‘daylight’ for those 14 hours of the day.
The idea here is that they can keep egg production up by imitating the sun. The light coming on in the morning, and turning off again at night (usually by a timer).
Of course, not all keeper decide to go the artificial light route during winter.
Instead, giving their birds a break. Although, they will lay less eggs.
So, another question to ask yourself could be this.
Would installing windows in your coop enable your chickens to lay eggs through the winter?
Generally speaking, your birds need to get enough daylight, even with the doors closed.
And here’s another tip. Eastern-faced windows let the first light of day in – which will help to maximize day length for your birds.
Should You Put Windows In A Chicken Coop?
It is generally advised to put windows in a chicken coop, especially where birds are housed more often.
Although, it must be stated that the importance of windows will vary by keeper, and by context.
We’ve already touched upon light – windows can make a lot of difference here.
But there are more to windows than just light.
Windows let in fresh air.
This is something that you really want; it helps to keep the ammonia fumes from decomposing chicken poop from gathering in the coop.
Consider, that an ammonia level above 25ppm (parts per million) is enough to damage the airways of chickens, which can cause respiratory pathogens to colonize and cause disease [source].
Fresh air also helps after a deep clean, and for any removing any disinfectant or product fumes that may develop afterward.
Plus, better air circulation helps your birds to breath, which is generally more limited during the hot days of summer.
Then there is the mental and emotional wellbeing of your chickens.
Many keepers report that they have observed their chickens looking out and through their windows. Its mostly for curiosity, but chickens do seem to this often and when they can.
Installing Chicken Coop Windows
Unless you are purchasing a coop for the first time, then you may be in a position where you need to install windows into your coop yourself.
You may be constructing a chicken coop from scratch and already have the know how, or you may be new to DIY and are following construction guides. This detailed book from Amazon, is great by the way.
Either way, there are generally two different ways you can install windows; purchase pre-framed or existing windows, or construct them yourself.
For the former, sash windows are commonly used (as they open by sliding vertically).
But, they can be expensive to buy and hard to find.
So instead, many keepers decide to make their own. And thankfully, its quite cheap and relatively simple.
To do so you only really need a few materials.
Plexi glass, hardware cloth and foam insulation are the main ones.
What is important with any construction is that the windows do not freely let any rain in, provide ventilation and are not too large to affect the structural integrity of the coop.
What Do Chicken Coops Need?
There are certain components that every chicken coop needs; not only for the safety of your flock but for their well-being too.
We’ve already touched on windows, light and ventilation, but what are the other interior features you need and why are they so important?
Let us now take a closer look!
Size and General Structure
First and foremost your coop needs to be of sufficient size for the number of birds that you keep.
Ideally, it should be large enough for you to be able to access, gather the eggs, and clean relatively easily.
It should also be constructed out of high quality, durable materials to keep your birds safe from the elements and of any potential predators!
Your chicken coop needs an adequate amount of ventilation without having too much of a draft.
You’ll want to regular examine and maintain your coop to ensure that it does not have any small holes or gaps, to prevent predators (such as snakes and mice) from being able to enter.
Ceiling insulation can help to keep the coop cooler in the warmer weather and months of the year.
What insulation you will need and how it is installed need depends on the material of your coop roof.
Raising the floor of your coop is a great way to keep the floor and bedding dry and to prevent predators from gaining access.
Plywood is a material that is commonly used and it helps to prevent airflow underneath.
As strange as it may sound for you and I, chickens sleep standing up.
Providing a roost is one such way that you can help them to sleep safely, in the air.
In the wild, chickens do this to help protect themselves from predators. So it is a natural and instinctual behavior for them.
While this should not be a concern in a concealed and protected coop, sleeping higher also has the benefit of keeping your chickens away from the floor (which often contains bacteria and germs).
The best roosts are made from wood; imitating those in the natural environment and are large enough to accommodate all of your flock.
You’ll also want to place them higher than the nesting boxes as chickens will look for the highest point to sleep.
The purpose of nesting boxes is to give your chickens a safe, comfortable place to lay their eggs. This is their only intended use.
Equally, it helps you to find them come the morning!
Nesting boxes do need to be kept in dark area of the coop, so you will need to keep them out of any direct light.
It comes advised that you place them away from the the roost to stop your chickens pooping on them.
You’ll generally need a box for every 3 chickens you keep, and you will need to line them with a bedding material (such as pine shavings) that you will need to change somewhat frequently.
The best nest boxes are easy to clean, durable and sufficiently sized.
Feeders and Waterers
Open to debate, but it can help to place food and water inside your chicken coop.
If you are looking to do so, a proper feeder and waterer is going to be required.
You also need to keep it away from the roost (to prevent poop) and raising them can help your birds access them.
Chickens generally do not consume food and water overnight, but it does give them access during the early hours of the morning.
Nevertheless, they will need cleaning, and to be topped up and remain fresh at all times.
Chickens like to poop as they sleep. So, by placing a litter tray underneath the roost can make a big difference to the challenges often faced when cleaning.
Nevertheless, any poop must be removed from the coop regularly to keep keep ammonia at a safe level.
Litter trays generally make this process easier, but should still be cleaned 2-3x per week at minimum. Daily is best if you can.
Chicken coops typically do best with windows. There are many benefits of them; especially for birds who spend more of their time indoors.
Access to natural light is a big one. It helps them to set and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm (their sleep/wake cycle) and align their body clocks. It is also plays a key role in healthy egg production too.
And, windows are generally great for ventilation too, which is essential for preventing respiratory illnesses and disease.
So, if you are in the market for a new coop, seek out an option with this feature.
Otherwise, if you can and are able, or know of someone whom may be able to offer a helping hand, do consider adding them to your coop.
Your birds will benefit, and its not too expensive or complex.
At least with the right construction plans and materials that is.