Comb Frostbite - ventilation problem?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rossco17, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. rossco17

    rossco17 Out Of The Brooder

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    This is our first year owning hens and it's not even December and my hens' combs have black frostbite spots. Their toes and waddles appear to be unaffected. I'm concerned though. The coop is 6' x 4', I'm in southern Maine (lows are in 20s at night right now), and I have 6 hens:

    1) Is this likely a ventilation issue? See the photo below. I have a 14" x 14" window on one side, two 4" x 24" soffits, and a 6" x 6" window on the other side.

    2) The roosts are quite high and perhaps their heads are up near the soffits - could this be an issue? I could lower them....

    3) Some nights i leave the pop door open. Perhaps this is creating a draft?



    Would really appreciate some help! I'm also not sure if I need to treat their frost bitten combs at all...

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have any photos of the inside? Where are the roosts?
     
  3. rossco17

    rossco17 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your reply. This photo is from during building. I use the 2x4 brackets to hold up the roosting bars, so you can see the 2 sets of those. The hens pretty much only use the top one. Without measuring, I'd say there's maybe 18 inches of space between the soffit and the top roost.

    There is currently about 8" of wood shavings as the bedding. And the pop door is bottom left, below the poop tray.


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Frostbite in low +20's temps? That doesn't sound right. If that is the case, what happens when it is -20's?

    Frostbite is typical of when combs are wet and damp interior conditions is only one cause of that. What water source are you using? Can they get wet combs from that?

    As far as ventilation, you can hardly get too much ventilation. You can get drafts however and that means excessive air movement past the roosts. Think wind chill. As far as testing for drafts, etc, I have used plastic flagging tape streamers, hung from the rafters. Put them in grids within the coop and especially over the roosts where the birds will be roosting. Watch them on a windy day. They will tell you what kind of air movement you have inside the coop. If they are all dancing around you have a problem. If they are hanging limp, even with the wind honking by outside, then "drafty" isn't the problem.

    BTW, what breeds are these?
     
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  5. rossco17

    rossco17 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Howard. I went in tonight while they were groggy and applied petroleum jelly to their combs to try to prevent further freezing until I can fix this. But I did see that their roost is only about 12" from the soffit so I could see that maybe any flow through there could affect them. Other than ventilation, I'm not sure what else it could be.

    A few thoughts:
    1) I plan to try the streamers idea (thanks)
    2) I could lower the roost to make it further from the soffit vents
    3) I could drill more vent holes in the gables areas
    4) I could also add a couple wind deflectors on the roost side of the windows to keep drafts that direction at a minimum.


    They are: black Australorps, golden comets, Rhode island, and a buff Orpington.

    The watering system is a five gallon bucket with nipples - impossible to get their combs wet with that.

    Thanks again for the help.
     
  6. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't tell, is that an open window or is there glass in it? And is your water kept out in the run? Those are cold hardy breeds as far as I know. Laureen the roosts a few inches could definitely help.
     
  7. rossco17

    rossco17 Out Of The Brooder

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    It's an open window with only hardware cloth. No glass. The water is kept in the coop.

    Thanks
     
  8. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would cover the window with plexiglass for the winter. And keep the water outside of the coop.
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    That window needs covered to keep out wind and rain. Gable vents at the peak of the roof on each side will dramatically improve airflow. Soffits are great, but the air naturally wants to escape at the high point of the roof. Without gable venting, that air can't exhaust effectively. Start cutting some holes in the walls, as close to the roof line as possible. You want so much ventilation, that there is plenty of light just from the vent holes.
     
  10. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you sure it's frostbite and not fowl pox, perhaps?
     
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