At what point do I begin to worry about frost and chicken combs?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Zonoma, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. Zonoma

    Zonoma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How cold is too cold? I have an open air hutch that (for now) simply has a tarp draped over the north side and a wall on the west side. It's been enough protection but tonight's temps are going to be in the low 30's. I have two Americauna hens in there until my integration pen is finished (planned on doing it today but had a rough day at the vet with my puppy). Should I worry? Should I pack them into a kennel and move them into the main coop? Or will they be okay? They are fully mature, the night is dry, and they have the pea combs.
     
  2. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    they will be fine. [​IMG] I had leghorns with big combs in minus double digits last year and had only a bit of frostbite, which healed up. [​IMG] Pea combs in the 30's is no worry IMO.

    I'd try to shore up any drafty areas you can and make sure your ventilation is a-ok, for when it's colder.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  3. Zonoma

    Zonoma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Dumb question? This is my first winter with chickens and that's not the first time I've read that. But what the heck is the difference between 'drafty' and ventilation? I mean, aren't they the same thing?

    EDIT TO ADD: Obviously, this is my first time with chickens. I've over-researched but have no experience.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  4. mhhousley

    mhhousley Out Of The Brooder

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    Adult chickens are usually very adept to cold temperatures. Which is ironic considering they were originally jungle fowl. As long as a chicken has adequate shelter from drafts then them closely confined with each other should protect them in average cold weather. However, if you're going to have several days of VERY LOW temperatures then you might consider putting a small heat lamp in the coop or somewhere near the coop where they can get warmed up if you need to.

    Their combs and waddles are more subsceptible to frost bite but like I said above unless it's going to be very cold for a prolonged period, they are generally fine. I have heard that people put vasoline on their waddles and combs to help protect them from the cold and dry air.
     
  5. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    And generally with pea combs, you won't need vaseline. I have cheap coops made with osb and plywood, with good ventilation at the top and no areas where drafts could blow in over the chickens - and we stayed well below zero last year for weeks on end (or so it seems). My pea combed birds were all fine, no frostbite. My large floppy combed girls had a little at the tips (I did try vaseline) but did not lose any tips, my straight combed rooster DID lose a few little tips.

    There was a good thread last year which may hopefully be resurrected or repeated on winter and how it's extremely rare to need a heat lamp (maybe in sustained -30+F) from a member that lives in Alaska, IIRC. [​IMG]

    in either case, 30 above zero will be fine. It was 40 outside here yesterday and I even had week olds outside with mama that seemed to be having a great time. Mama knows best, I guess. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Frostbite is caused more by the humidity that the chickens give off than cold. Ventilation is an opening, preferably at the highest point of the coop, which lets both humidity and ammonia out. A draft is cold air movement blowing directly on the chickens, like sleeping in front of an open window. (In the heat of summer, a draft can change into a welcome breeze.) Excellent articles here on cold and ventilation:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Good luck!
     
  7. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keep the wind off the birds. Its like you standing in the cold wind. Nobody likes to stand in the wind when its cold. Block the wind the cold is fine its the cold wind that is not good.
     

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