Frost bite avoidance ???


In the Brooder
9 Years
Nov 24, 2010
Woodbury, Middle Tn
My Columbian Cochin's are in a non heated enclosure but are completely sheltered from any wind. At what point in time (temp) are they in danger of frostbite?

I have a smaller coop inside the main enclosure Id like to put them all in at night because its small enough they can raise the ambient temperature inside by 6 - 8 degrees above their outer enclosure and outside temp. but they wont go in on their own they have always roosted on top of the inner enclosure .

I could go in after dark and pick them up and put them in the smaller enclosure but there are two 10 week old young ones that each still like to get under the hens wing at night and have never been handled.

I hate to start warming the the outer enclosure getting them out of the more typical temperatures.

A cold night is between 15 -18 F and could be for 2 -3 nights with some warming usually after a couple days. They range, they are a little chunky (love that scratch) and do well outside during the days but its been only in the mid 20's and sunny for a daytime temp.

They do nestle up during the night and seem to be doing ok. If I have to do something it will be to collect them up and put them in the inner enclosure (ahhhhhhhhh that a scary thought with the 2 young ones)

I have one rooster, a pullet, 2 hens each with a 10 week old little one. (6 heads)

What is the danger range for frostbite? Thanks Tom
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Frostbite is primarily a function of humidity, not temp. It was 21 here last night and my rooster with his big comb and 4" wattles does not have a sign of frostbite today. Unless your small enclosure is well ventilated, it could make frostbite more likely, not less. The trick is good coop ventilation. Mine is so ventilated it's like a 3 sided coop. You don't need to be that extreme, but it does need large enough openings gigh in the coop tha the humidity from their breathing and poop (as well as the ammonia) can go out.

We have a writeup on ventilation here that's highly regarded:
YES VENTILATION IS THE KEY WORD TO ANY HEN HOUSE. I always walk about with a jar of petroleum jelly in my pocket when the weather gets colder. I rub it on the combs and wattles of the cockerels - this helps against frost bite - I also use it on some of the legs of chickens that look as if scaley mite could be occuring. It is good for the hands as well, stops me getting splits on my thumbs. Sandy
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x2. We got to zero last night and my big combed leghorns are showing no signs of frostbite. They did get a bit last year, but it was minus double digits and humid outside. Wasn't able to do much with that. Still, they survived and had no problems.
It's a common misconception that Frostbite and frostnip is caused by humidity. It is purely defined as caused by freezing. Here's is a quote from the CDC:


Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

There are plenty of other references if you google frostbite definition.
Humidity can exacerbate the tissue damage from the moisture collecting on flesh and freezing.

There is no absolute temperature that causes tissue damage because it is effected by the temp and time exposed, humidity, drafts, wind chill etc.

You could try locking them into the coop you want them to use. In a few days or a week or two, they will learn that is home.

Good luck with your chickens,

False. As per BYC, frostbite is primarily a function of humidity. Furthermore, US commercial chicken farms feed hormones to their birds to promote fast growth. That's right. Read it here on BYC by people who have been given the BYC educator award. Has to be true.
We get to -10F and lower here at night in the winter. Never had a problem with frostbite. I made sure to get cold hardy breeds and I shut them all in the coop at night. It's draft free with good ventilation. I worried about them the first winter but not anymore. I don't have any kind of heat source in my coop. Chickens have been surviving winters for 100s of years. Just keep them healthy, dry, and draft free and they seem to do fine.

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