Chicken frostbite - advice needed

bswilson

Hatching
8 Years
Jul 18, 2011
8
0
7
We've got 4 hens and a couple of roosters living in a relatively small homemade coop based on this Purina Mills design:


There's venting at the top all along both the front and back of the roof that I can fit my fingers up into and feel a pretty constant flow of air.
We currently don't have a heater in the coop, although we do have a water heater (more on that below).

We live in Littleton, MA, and over the past week the temperature has hit single digits (with wind chills below 0) a few times. Yesterday (Sunday) we found some frostbite on one of our roosters' comb, and this morning some on the other rooster's comb (so far everyone's feet look fine, and none of the hens have any issues):



I feel bad for these poor guys, and I'd like to prevent any further damage. Fortunately the forecast for the next week isn't as cold, but before this happens again I'm wondering what changes we can make. From reading lots of stuff online it sounds like moisture is the main concern rather than temperature.

Here's what I'm considering:
1. Cutting a hole somewhere near the top of the coop to increase ventilation (and of course sealing it with a screen or vent of some sort).
2. Putting a lamp in as a heater. I'm not crazy about this solution due to increased fire risk, and I'm not sure that it would really solve any problems as a lamp wouldn't be able to increase the temperature to above freezing anyway.
3. Moving the chicken's water outside of the coop. Does this make sense? Are we we foolish to have the water IN the coop in the first place, and then to worry about moisture when there's a big water fount inside as well?

Any other advice? Thanks.
 
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CMV

Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 15, 2009
6,770
196
281
His frostbite is very mild. I don't even think he is going to lose any points out of this.

I think I would move the waterer and then hold of any other alterations until you see what that does. I think the heated waterer might be your culprit here. The design of the coop looks solid and well-vented. So, where is the excess moisture coming from? I think it's from the water vapor.

Good luck.
 

bswilson

Hatching
8 Years
Jul 18, 2011
8
0
7
Thanks for that. That pic is of the first victim. Victim #2 is slightly worse than this guy.

We'll try moving the water first.
 

scratch'n'peck

Crowing
12 Years
Oct 31, 2008
5,925
673
401
West Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
The chickens' feet will probably be fine because they cover them with their belly feathers when they are perching. My roosters have those big combs, too, and they did get some frost bite last year. I did end up putting a heat bulb in the bachelor rooster coop's and it helped, but I understand your reluctance due to fire risk. I haven't put a bulb in their coop yet. I slathered their combs with petroleum jelly, because I read that is supposed to help, but I suppose I will need to reapply regularly.

I think your ventilation is probably okay.
 

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