Chicks in winter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KDOGG331, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    I have a feeling I am going to regret this but here goes ...

    You have hinted in other threads that you are in Australia. If that is the case, using -25F as a possibility in say Northern Wisconsin where blucoondawg is located, that converts to -31C for Aussies .. the lowest ever recorded temperature in Australia was back in 1994 and it was -23C [-9F].

    I believe your suggestion may carry more weight and credibility if you were to expand on where you live that is colder? What temperature extremes have you used the fridge in? Have you tried it in various climates or just the one you are in now?
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Proper ventilation is a biggie, as is plenty of space. I'm in MN where it also gets to double-digits below at times. Sometimes for days on end. Those days, my chickens prefer to stay inside, so I made sure our coops are large enough for them to be in to eat, drink, scratch, roost and do other chickeny things. Over-crowding can cause all kinds of trouble. My coops are more like small sheds. They are well-ventilated, have south-facing windows for plenty of light, and don't have insulation. When I first got chickens, I thought I was doing them a favor by locking them up in a tightly sealed coop. Couldn't figure out why the frostbite. I have since learned that cool and dry is far better than warm and humid. Your chicks will be fine at their age and the temps you're getting. Just think - every coolish day you get gives them a chance to acclimate a little betterr for when it's really cold.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I just built a new coop (I have a blessed son in law) and it has much better ventilation than my old coop, which did have a great deal of openings, but not positioned quite right. I am surprised at how much drier and more comfortable this coop is. The ventilation faces the south, it is well above their heads.

    Good positioned ventilation makes a huge difference!
    1 person likes this.
  4. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin

    Yes it does, I have fully ventilated eaves front and back but always have still had a slight amount if moisture, now I'm leaving a window cracked and its helping a lot, I've also switched to a 55 gallon drum with horizontal nipples for water which had eliminated any water mess and open water areas in the floor. I think I am still going to cut a strip out of the top of my south facing wall for additional airflow, then I'd have open air on top of 3 walls.
  5. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Crossing the Road

    Jan 18, 2008
    Thank you all for all the fantastic input!! This is giving me great ideas! I did read the article on ventilation a while ago but real life suggestions are definitely more helpful I feel. I'll pass these on and.hopefully we can figure something out to add more or may simply turn the chainlink into a "coop" and add more run space. Of course would wrap sides or something but probably would give way more space too. I don't like locking them in that tiny thing but sometimes have to. However we are also adding a skirt 1 foot out and 2 feet high up the walls as well a roof so once it is more secure I can definitely leave them out instead of locking them in but still
  6. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    I wouldn't like a chain link coop simply because they're harder to predator proof, I have an 18x36 run of chain link with netting on top for hawks and owls. It is next to my yard which is also chain link and very large so I can open it up and let them range in the yard though it isn't covered its way too big.
    My coop however is basically a 12x12 shed sitting up on blocks, the front wall is 8 ft tall the back wall is 6 ft and the roof just slopes front to back. 2 vinyl windows and a steel man door and steel chicken door. Hardware cloth is over the vents and nothing will get in that coop that I don't let in. It would be harder to get a chain link coop sealed up tight enough to prevent weasels and such from getting in.

    A large shed style coop has a couple advantages, one is predator proof is relatively easy, you can fit more birds, and you can easily provide a lot of ventilation above the birds roost area so they don't catch a draft, you can also store some feed and supplies in there.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015
  7. GodofPecking

    GodofPecking Songster

    Dec 16, 2015
    I'm not talking about wrapping the run when I say use a fridge, you can wrap the whole run and that is a great idea.

    About insulating the coop or run, if you don't feel like the coop is stuffy then neither would the chooks obviously. I can't see the point in engaging in 'debate' about the zero people and zero chickens who have ever suffocated in a chicken coop. I'm sure there must be magazines and TV channels clogged with those stories on some planet, but I'm talking about this one, and yes, I am the only person either one of us know who has any experience with using a fridge for chickens, so it is a good idea to ask the only person who would know about the smell. I wouldn't say I have anything but an ordinary sense of smell, I can smell my chicken tractor, and when I hose it out it is quite strong. When I opened the fridge to check on and feed the chicks in the fridge I used as a brooder, although the chicks were pooping in there, there was no significant buildup of smell, it was only about as much as any other brooder, or less, because it was outdoors. Poop that they do soon dries up and is very easy to clean. It is loose generally and not stuck to the floor in general. It was very very very easy and fast to hose out compared to the wooden surfaces in the chicken tractor.

    The Fridge goes inside the coop or connects by a tunnel. I just leave mine outdoors and have a run attached as pictured. I can't see that they'd need both unless the single fridge is the nest box. How many chickens can you fit ? for an average sized fridge, assuming the door is cut large enough, I'd say one 50kg ( 100 pound ) chicken will do, or more if they are smaller. If you think they are a little cramped however, just get more fridges ! There are no special differences in regards to room, it's the same as a regular brooder because it IS a regular brooder, it just does not consume as much electricity to keep it toasty warm, if it needs power at all. Mine did not.

    In regards to budget, it took a few hours in total to strip out the fridge and put in the doorway liner, I don't even know if you need the liner. I guess you could use cloth tape instead of wood or sheetmetal like I did. That would make it faster but tape doesn't last as long and I prefer to make things that will last longer than I will, so I don't have to do it more than once.

    As for the budget, if your budget is 20 cents, you can afford about 50. You can get them on secondhand auction sites online, or just ask neighbors and friends. Shops that sell fridges also want to give away old ones because they have to pay a fortune to have garbage dumped. Large, heavy things like fridges can cost a lot to dump commercially. So most stores, even chain stores, want you to have them free and will often help load them onto your vehicle.


    The fridge idea, that is, the way I cut the door and so on, is designed to keep the heat inside the fridge as much as possible, while allowing plenty of fresh air in. This is how it works when the ambient external temperature ( the weather forecast ) is below the chickens body temperature.

    Like I said, this works fantastic for me and my chickens, it appeals to my lazy side for sure, because it is almost no work at all, it appeals to the wallet, and yes, I am the only one who has experience with this setup that we know if. I'd love to see some photos when other people start building them (is building the right word? sounds too busy)
  8. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Warm air rises, it does not go down. The warm, moist air full of ammonia will not escape until the whole fridge was nearly full. You are asking for respiratory illness. Birds are very sensitive to ammonia and moisture. Their respiratory systems are a bit more delicate than a human's.
    You may be the only one that has experience with this exact setup, but you are not the first person to think keeping chickens in an insulated box without ventilation was a good idea. Many people living in climates with extreme winter temps (Australia does not qualify for extreme winter temps btw) have experienced, first hand, how disastrous this concept is.
  9. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    GodofPecking, you may in fact be the only person to house chickens in a fridge, but rather than make you an expert on the practice, it makes you a sample size of one. I would put no faith in a scientific study with a sample size of one so I will put no faith in your method either.
    2 people like this.
  10. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Crossing the Road

    Jan 18, 2008
    so you're using it only as a brooder then? seems way too small for adults and mine are 8 weeks. it does seem simple to hose out though, I will give you that. I don't really understand how smell does not build up though but maybe that's because there's no wood shavings. Both of mine, the kiddie pool in the house and the large cardboard box/plywood walls in the garage, smelled fairly soon after even with no top. But then again sometimes I didn't change it right away but still, surely you don't hose it often. theyre outside now though.

    anyway, may work in Australia but I'm not sure it would here, like others mentioned. Even if it did I'm not sure that I would feel comfortable locking them in there ever. Though I'm guessing you don't lock yours in?

    I do thank you for the input though, even if I don't think I'll use it. Though perhaps it could work if there was more ventilation.

    Anyway, I do have another small dilemma for everyone here..

    This morning my mom thought I should put a flannel sheet on the floor of the top part. I didn't think I should but I realized, which I had forgotten, that the tray is galvanized steel. The actual coop and frame and everything is wood and they have shavings on it but the tray is steel so is that too cold? They usually roost on the bars so off it or they huddle in a nest box, which is all wood.

    Also, some of the shavings are a tad wet and they've also been kicking them around and I also looked in the nest box and the main one they use has basically no shavings and is just poop now, also saw one fly, I know that this is unhealthy and needs to be fixed, and I do have two large bags of shavings in the garage, but it has been raining all day. Just refilled food and water, both empty, and brought extra treats out, and was still raining. Had to put food under coop and add second small water bowl there too so they do not have to go out. So then my question is this: should I change it now or later? I know it normally is an issue that demands immediate attention but my concern was that by doing it now, in the rain, I would just be putting wet shavings in the coop which would maybe be worse? ALSO. I noticed that the rain was going right in the door and/or vents and the entry way shavings were wet too. I was thinking I should possibly add some sort of an overhang or roof over the door? We are also putting a roof on the run but just wire. Maybe I will make part a solid roof. Thank you in advance
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015

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