Frost bite concerns?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by parkerpeeps7, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. parkerpeeps7

    parkerpeeps7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been seeing so much about frostbite and am wondering if I should be concerned with my chickens getting frost bite if their water is freezing overnight? I am going to get a indoor thermometer today but even with that I don't know how cold it has to be in there for them to get frost bite. I have two 250 watt heat lamps in an 8x8 coop for them. I have been looking for some 500 watt bulbs but so far have not had any luck. I just want to make sure I have good preventive measures in place b/c I live in Georgia & it can get in the teen's here. Thankfully none of that yet though! :) Thanks in advance for the help!
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    It is not really about heat, especially in Georgia, but about humidity and wind chill. There have been plenty of people a lot further north than you that have solved frostbite problems by providing more ventilation.

    Frostbite is possible any time the temperature is below freezing. But many of us keep chickens without any frostbite problems in much lower temperatures without providing any heat. If the humidity builds up in your coop, your chickens are at a much greater risk. Humidity comes from their poop and their breathing.

    I've seen chickens sleep outside in trees in temperatures around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. They were not perched on a limb at the top of a ridge or hill, squawking defiantly into the teeth of a raging blizzard. They were nestled among the branches in what was a thicket in a protected valley with the ability to move to get on the side of the tree trunk where they are protected against whatever breeze there might be, but they do have great ventilation. In our coops we may not give them as much flexibility to get out of breezes as they enjoy in trees in protected places.

    I'm a firm believer in providing a lot of winter ventilation above their heads while they are sleeping. Close off all vents below them or where a breeze can blow directly in them. A breeze blowing above them does not hurt a thing.

    In your temperatures you could provide a three sided coop with the roost in the protected area between the three sides. Just wire on the one side. Cold is not going to be a problem for you if your coop is well-ventilated and you protect them a bit from wind chill.

    My lows are not in the teens. I see temperatures below zero Fahrenheit.
     
  3. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

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    The chickens don't need the heatlamps, or any other kind of added heat. They are well adapted to handle cold weather. All you are doing is running up your electric bill and possibly putting your birds in danger (Coop fire, birds losing ability to acclimate to the cold). . Frostbite can be a problem if you have a lot of birds in a poorly ventilated coop. Chickens have a very high resporation rate and can generate a lot of moisture in an enclosed space. That's why they need a WELL ventilated coop. If you notice a lot of frost inside the coop, that's a sure sign that you don't have enough ventilation and you need to supply more fresh air to the coop. Check out my coop below. I live well north of you and the coop is unheated with NO insulation and my chickens have no problems.
    Jack
     
  4. parkerpeeps7

    parkerpeeps7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok so both of your responses are great news to me! @JackE- our coop is exactly like the back part of your coop (yours is great by the way!). It's slanted & has a bit of an overhang over the front door and sides. Now forgive me b/c I'm afraid I will not be able to explain this well but where yours is white at the top ours is all open, like a 6 inch opening all across the front & also open on the sides until the roof meets the back of the coop as it slants. It's covered by hardware cloth to keep out predators. My husband came up with the idea for the openings at top to allow ventilation & to give them cross breeze in the summer. I have the "raising chickens for dummies book" & it said that chickens can stand temps down to 40 degrees so that was why we have the heat lamps. I'm glad to know that they will be ok, I've been freaking b/c we didn't insulate the coop! [​IMG]
    So my chickens are 7 to 8 months old and have been with a heat lamp since temps started getting below the 40 degrees, however before November they were outside in a coop that was open on all sides so they had no protection from the wind, it was our temporary coop until we could get the bigger & better one built. Since November they have been in the new one. ALL that being said could they have already lost their ability to acclimate to the cold weather?
     
  5. parkerpeeps7

    parkerpeeps7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OH! And I have 10 chickens in the coop so hopefully that is not too much for the size and ventilation that I have!
     
  6. ambrosia

    ambrosia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It got down to -24 here this morning ~ not counting the wind chill! And my girls are doing just fine :) there is a little frost on their windows, but they have laid 12 eggs so far this morning, and were even pushing at the door to go outside... silly girls [​IMG]
     
  7. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Holy smokes, -24!!! Where are you, the North Pole???
     
  8. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

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    Generally it is recommended to have 4sf per bird. But, some people go with 2sf per bird. I'm with the more room the better crowd. We have had a more or less mild winter, Temps swinging from 10 to over 50 degrees. I would guess your winter has been more or less the same. So, I would get rid of the heatlamps. Do you have a run, or do you just let them freerange? If they have been exposed to the outside, there should be no problem getting rid of the added heat. They will acclimate to the weather. Your ventilation sounds good, but as I posted earlier, keep an eye out for excessive frost build up in the coop. That's a sure sign that there is not enough ventilation. As far as the temps chickens can handle, we have people on here from the midwest and Alaska with subzero temps, and their chickens handle it well. They are a lot tougher than you think.
    Jack
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Mine is the same, open on top on all four sides permanently. During summer I open a window and unblock lower ventilation.

    You really don't have cold weather. Don't worry about themn acclimating. They will be fine.

    Frost inside is not a sure sign that you need better ventilation. There is no way ventilation can get the humidity inside lower than the humidity outside. With high humidities and dropping temperatures, you can get condensation or frost inside a well-ventilated coop. It is usually not a big deal. The physics are simple. When the air temperature drops below the dew point, moisture comes out of the air. It does not have to fall as rain or snow. It can collect on cold surfaces. If those surfaces are cold enough, it can freeze.

    I doubt you will see frost inside in Georgia, but it is very possible to get condensation. I get condensation here and you are more exposed to high humidity off the Gulf of Mexico than I am. Usually when it turns cold enough to freeze here, the air is fairly dry.

    Don't overthink it too much and don't get too hung up on details. Give them good ventilation and keep direct breezes off of them and yours will do fine. You just don't get that cold. You really don't compared to a whole lot of other people.
     
  10. parkerpeeps7

    parkerpeeps7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow! That is cold! I can't believe they wanted to go outside?! I hate the cold though.
     

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