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Is my coop warm enough?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

We had a couple of frost's these past couple of days. I don't know what that is worth in F but it's 0C here in Canada.

I have two coops one is insulated and one is not, we are working as fast as our budget allows to close up the second one. (it was never intended for wintering but somebody dumped 14 more red hens on me)

When I visited the coops this morning to turn the lights on I saw no difference temperature wise from one coop to another

My shed was already insulated when we added the coops. its located in a corner to maximize space and is roughly 6x10 feet
there are 11 laying hens in this one  and 2 silkies (that sleep on the floor)

WE insulated the top, bottom and the 2 walls that we added to be sure that they would be warm, even though the shed was already insulated.
we have 3 egg doors for the 9 nest boxes that we have that run from top to bottom rather than from left to right.
there is a bit of a crack in those doors due to the shed being crooked,  but I figured it would serve as the ventilation everyone is talking about. i know its technically not "ventilation" but it would help the humidity to come out since it runs to the ceiling, plus like I said the shed was all insulated on top of that. There is no drafts

Running a heat lamp is no good for us because we run out of power quite a bit. I wouldn't want them to get used to the heat too much and have it fail on them

Is it to early in the season to be asking this question? will it get better.
Do I have enough hens in the coop to warm themselves up?
How much cold can a bird handle.

Please help me this is my first winter, I would be devastated if they didn't make it. Half of these birds have unfortunately become my pets

i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
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i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
post #2 of 9

hello.
as far as asking ... how cold is too cold? what type of breeds do you have? are they hardy breeds for your climate? i know when i first bought my chickens, i wanted a hardy breed. but if you got dumped alot of birds, perhaps you have all different ones? hmm
have you tried a temp thermometer out in the coops? to actually see what degree it is? my rule of thumb is,, if the water is icing.. its too cold. i then start using a heat lamp source.
ill have to look up the temp for chickens... and get back to you. wink
if you have alot of chickens, their body heat and feathering, should be enough.

good luck smile

mom to: 1 husband 3 kids 3 dogs, 1 cat,  4 ducks, welsh, black swedish, buff orpington
9 hens and 1 crazy rooster!rir/plymouth rocks/leghorn/campine/wellsummer/and some other breeds.

6 more baby chicks added July 2012!!!

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mom to: 1 husband 3 kids 3 dogs, 1 cat,  4 ducks, welsh, black swedish, buff orpington
9 hens and 1 crazy rooster!rir/plymouth rocks/leghorn/campine/wellsummer/and some other breeds.

6 more baby chicks added July 2012!!!

Reply
post #3 of 9

Hello, neighbour.  What are the dimensions of your coops and how many birds in each?  You seem to have lots of birds to generate heat.

I think the chicken run is the harder question, if predators are a problem (they are here).

Our coops are in a barn, insulated but not heated.  I think the birds prefer cold to heat, actually, but it's important to have draft-free roof and platforms, and some snuggle areas for those two-week stretches of bitter cold we sometimes get.  Are you in the north of the province where temps can get extremely cold?

We're building our second coop space and you can see how it's going in this link, plus on the other pages attached to it-

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=7693-our-second-coop

Let me know if I can help!  cool


Edited by LynneP - 10/14/10 at 6:04am

Focussing on the black Australorp.  Facebook page under Linda Pattison.

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Focussing on the black Australorp.  Facebook page under Linda Pattison.

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post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattgal 

We had a couple of frost's these past couple of days. I don't know what that is worth in F but it's 0C here in Canada.


32 F is freezing wink

When I visited the coops this morning to turn the lights on I saw no difference temperature wise from one coop to another


No, you likely wouldn't (especially if htey are well-ventilated) this time of year.

It may be somewhat counterintuitive, but you see larger differences the COLDER the nights get. Also, the less thermal mass is in the coops, the less difference you will see.

there is a bit of a crack in those doors due to the shed being crooked,  but I figured it would serve as the ventilation everyone is talking about. i know its technically not "ventilation" but it would help the humidity to come out since it runs to the ceiling, plus like I said the shed was all insulated on top of that. There is no drafts


I do worry about that somewhat. If it is a narrow enough crack not to cause drafts, it is also narrow enough that there will be very little air movement through it. It may also become a 'frost farm', which inhibits your ability to get rid of humidity.

I would VERY SERIOUSLY advise you build some ACTUAL ventilation, ample in size, that can be adjusted as conditions dictate. (See my ventilation page, link in .sig below, for recommendations). Humidity in winter is just ASKING for frostbite.

Do I have enough hens in the coop to warm themselves up?


No, and you don't really WANT there to be either, because then a) you will have major air-quality problems and quite possibly frostbite, and b) there is a real good chance you will get pecking and cannibalism. MORE indoor space is best, in cold winter areas.

How much cold can a bird handle.


Basic answer is "it depends" but see the "cold coop" link in my sig below for more on the subject.

I know that in many parts of Canada it is traditional to shut the coop up tight but notice that these people STILL tend to get frostbite, sometimes quite serious, in their birds (unless they run an insane amount of heat lamps).  It is not really an effective strategy overall, although there may be individual nights when you want to mostly close the vents down because of particular circumstances.

Your best bet is to prioritize in this order: 1) minimize sources of humidity [clean droppings boards daily, eliminate roof or waterer leaks/spills, don't let bedding get real damp]. 2) Ventilate amply, as much as conditions allow, seldom if ever shutting it all down. 3) No drafts on chickens, especially at night. 4) Have them otherwise-healthy. 5) Provide ample space for them to wander around in, when the weather is nasty outside, so they do not get stressed or cannibalistic.

And then keep an eye on them as the winter goes on, and deal with problems accordingly while they are still minimal.

Good luck, have fun,

Pat (note location: about an hour north of Toronto)

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by annie3001 

hello.
as far as asking ... how cold is too cold? what type of breeds do you have? are they hardy breeds for your climate? i know when i first bought my chickens, i wanted a hardy breed. but if you got dumped alot of birds, perhaps you have all different ones? hmm
have you tried a temp thermometer out in the coops? to actually see what degree it is? my rule of thumb is,, if the water is icing.. its too cold. i then start using a heat lamp source.
ill have to look up the temp for chickens... and get back to you. wink
if you have alot of chickens, their body heat and feathering, should be enough.

good luck smile


in the insulated coop, 6 EE' (the same size as a leghorn), 3 marans, 2 red hens, 1 leghorn. and the 2 silkies that really don't count as far as heat goes. I'm going to knit the silkies each a sweater. and if I have to I'll do it for the rest of them. but they wont have use of their wings so that might be a problem to get on the roosts.
The coop is 6x10. I do not have a thermometer but the water is frozen outside
in the unfinished coop is 14 red hens. so not very big either

i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynneP 

I think the chicken run is the harder question, if predators are a problem (they are here).
l:


the run shouldn't be a problem, we close their little door every night and open it as soon as it warms up

i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by patandchickens 

No, and you don't really WANT there to be either, because then a) you will have major air-quality problems and quite possibly frostbite, and b) there is a real good chance you will get pecking and cannibalism. MORE indoor space is best, in cold winter areas.


Ok so I don't understand, are they supposed to be cold? I understand about the air quality thing, and our silkies were given a real hard time. but we have them in a safe place inside the same coop now


Edited by pattgal - 10/14/10 at 6:46am
i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
i get tired of people who over humanize their animals. animals are animals and are happiest treated as animals....
To err is human. It takes a computer to really foul things up
Experience, usually only acquired after it is needed
Reply
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattgal 

Ok so I don't understand, are they supposed to be cold? I understand about the air quality thing, and our silkies were given a real hard time. but we have them in a safe place inside the same coop now


Unless you have a particular breed of chicken known for being sensitive to cold (Seramas, for example), most chickens do fine even in bitterly cold weather as long as they have a dry, draft free but adequately ventilated coop. Chickens come with down insulation, after all!

So many new chicken owners seem to worry about cold when it's actually heat in the summer that can be a serious danger. Every summer you read or hear about chickens dying from getting overheated, since they can't take off those down coats, they can't sweat, and the only way they have to cool themselves is from panting and holdiing their wings away from their bodies.

In my opinion, Patandchicken's winter advice is solid gold.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattgal 
Quote:
Originally Posted by patandchickens 

No, and you don't really WANT there to be either, because then a) you will have major air-quality problems and quite possibly frostbite, and b) there is a real good chance you will get pecking and cannibalism. MORE indoor space is best, in cold winter areas.


Ok so I don't understand, are they supposed to be cold?


Depends what you mean "cold". Check out my 'cold coop' page.

Chickens definitely do poorly at -40 C (actual temperature around them e.g. inside the coop) and lower tongue

Between -40 C and -20 C (ish) it depends on the particular circumstances, some chickens will be ok but by no means all. Large breeds with very small combs probably do the best, e.g. chanteclers and buckeyes and to some extent wyandottes too, since if nothing else they are much less prone to frostbite.

But warmer than -10 or -20 C (or so), if you have chosen your breeds intelligently (yours are not the cold-hardiest, but not *so* bad) and can keep the air pretty dry, most chickens are fine most of the time.

Mind you, it *can* happen, especially not too awfully far below freezing, that you get a long stretch of chilly humid weather that can cause frostbite problems to chickens with larger combs even in a well-ventilated coop. Especially if they are not in 100% terrific health to begin with. Because of our inability to control the weather it is therefore  nice to keep a close eye on combs and to have the ability to run a little heat if necessary. As far as I know it has never been scientifically *proven* whether vaseline on combs every day or two during problem weather helps vs frostbite but it sure seems to me like it does, and anyhow can't hurt.

Frostbitten combs is the main problem you would run into, though -- and if it is not real severe, the chicken generally recovers fine eventually, albeit with a different-looking comb. Large wattles can also frostbite, especially if the waterer allows them to get dipped in. Toes rarely frostbite and even then it is usually a result of a management problem. Cold per se, i.e. hypothermia, is hardly ever a problem for chickens -- they can take quite considerable cold (even if they get frostbit) as long as they have deep bedding to snuggle into and a draft-free environment with lots of food and sufficient daylength in which to eat it.

And the main way to give your chickens frostbite is through humid air. Colder yet well-ventilated-enough-to-be-dryish air in the coop is generally much healthier for the chickens than I-closed-the-coop-up-tight-so-they-wont-get-cold-but-hey-look-at-all-that-frost-in-the-coop air (until you get to really Arctic temperatures)

Pat

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