frostbite and moisture?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by msujille, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. msujille

    msujille New Egg

    Jan 26, 2014
    I live in northern Michigan and received some chickens/peacocks from a friend who was moving in December. I have 6 Americauna's and 2 peacocks. Despite the temperatures being btw -10 and 10 degrees daily for the last few weeks, I'm still getting eggs every day. They are eating good, drinking good, and seem well. I have been reading on a few blogs (trying to get some more chicken education under my belt) and I'm concerned by coop may be adding to the problem of moisture/frostbite potential. Please help me! I don't see black frostbit yet but since I was reading about all this last night, I looked at my hens this am and a few of their combs are very pale/whiter in color. Is that the start of frostbite? My coop is 6x9 with pine shavings. I know I do have some moisture in there b/c the door/window has frozen/frost on the inside. I have one red lamp that I keep on. My water bucket is a 2 gal bucket that is heated. Besides their door to go out to the run, there is no other air getting in. Its constructed from pole barn siding, is off the ground, and has a 9 foot ceiling for the peacocks. Its not insulated, just the metal sides and a glass door with a window. Even with the lamp on I don't feel a significant change in temp besides being out of the wind, but I do have front on the inside.I have read that I need to add another vent. Any suggestions? The door has a window I could crack a smidge too? I have one hen who is missing a few feathers but she came like that to me in early Dec and I think its actually getting better. I also have read that I should not provide heat...which I did b/c I felt bad for them...but regardless, if I need to stop using the light b/c of the moisture how do I do that in this cold of temp with out stressing them out? Do I shot it off for a few hours a day and gradually get longer and longer...? I should tell you I feed a mash and a little scratch once a day.
    Thanks, I'm open for help!

  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Yes, the white color may well be the start of frostbite, and yes, ventilation is the most important factor in preventing frostbite. Chickens put out a lot of moisture in their breath and poop, and this warmer, moist air rises, so you need ventilation high in the coop to let the humidity out. Here are links to two excellent articles about keeping chickens in Canada winters:

    and here is just one of many threads here about coops in cold weather:
  3. lismarc

    lismarc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2014
    Southern Maryland
    We had a huge drop in temp here over the past several weeks that we are not used to. I had to figure out what to do quick fast and in a hurry. What I was told from people on here was to board up all windows that are BELOW the roost. The only vents should be ABOVE the roost for the moisture to escape from there. That is MOST IMPORTANT... Take the water out of the coop at night. it just adds moisture and they don't drink at night. Poop gives off moisture too. Remove the poop if you think it needs it. If there is left over mash.. take that out at night as well. Close them in the coop at night and shut the door. As far as the white on the combs, its hard to tell. I would definitely add Vaseline to their combs to help prevent any frostbite. During the day when I have their water in the coop, I have the water sitting on a cinder block that has a light bulb in it and is covered with a tile. When I take the water out at night, I leave that heater on. It doesn't put off much heat but if they should get cold they can snuggle up to that. I've never seen them do it since I boarded up everything and added vents above the roost.

    Hope that helps....
  4. Janet Pesaturo

    Janet Pesaturo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2013
    Bolton, MA, USA
    Chicken combs become much paler when hens are not laying, usually in winter. So if yours are not laying now, that could be the reason for the appearance of the combs - hard to say without seeing photos. But definitely deal with that ventilation issue, to reduce the risk of frostbite if they don't already have it.

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