Frostbite on All Chickens' Combs: What Did We Do Wrong?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by NCchics, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. NCchics

    NCchics In the Brooder

    Jan 4, 2017
    Would love some advice about how to help my cold chickens...we built a fairly small coop for our 6 cold-hardy chickens and felt that the consensus seemed to be that it's best not to heat a coop in the winter in case power goes out (very likely in our NC mountain town). Our coop doesn't have any windows other than one that lets light in, but it does have a tin roof that is ridged that provides lots of natural cracks at the top. We have a device that measures humidity, and while it did get very, very cold (down to 12 degrees inside the coop), the humidity doesn't appear to be above 58%. The bottom line is that after 3 days of snow and sub-freezing temps, all 6 now have mild frostbite on their combs. Winter has just begun here, so I wanted to ask...what are we doing wrong? How can we better protect our chickens from this happening again? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    Frostbite can happen despite good ventilation...if it's mild (just grayish, not black?) I wouldn't worry.

    Pics of your coop would help us help you ascertain what might need/could be improvements.
    Pics of birds frostbite might be good to see too.
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hello and welcome to BYC!

    You mention you built a fairly small coop? I had a lot of trouble with frostbite in a small coop with lots of vent space in the ceiling. However because the ceiling up the coop was not high enough for moisture to completely get away from the birds even though I had them roost close to the floor, the moisture build up always caused frostbite.

    What I am getting at is you need lots of height between your birds heads and the ceiling along with 1 square foot of vent space per bird in the eves or ceiling. No matter how many holes I cut in my roof of my small coop, they always got frost bite. Eventually I built a huge coop with a very high slanted roof, vents in the low and high sides, the moist air had a long distance up away from the birds, air entered the low side vents and whisked the moist air out the high side. No more frostbitten combs.
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016

    Photos of your coop would be essential to help you solve this.

    Was your metal roof insulated?
  5. NCchics

    NCchics In the Brooder

    Jan 4, 2017
    Wow, that's so helpful - thanks so much for sharing your experience. I'll post photos later this afternoon when I have a little break in the day. Thanks to all!

  6. Another question would be was there some ventilation at the bottom of the coop so that warm air at the top would have a better "draw"?

    I have determined that it is ok even in below zero temps to leave the pop door open at all times...that is my lower venting....

    Have you tested your hygrometer? Mine reads lower by 5 % so I add 5 to the reading....

    Finally, castor oil on the combs may help as we wend our way through this somewhat difficult winter...

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