Frostbite prevention questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kychickengal, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. kychickengal

    kychickengal Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2015
    I have 7 chickens and for the first time this winter I am having problems with frostbite. When the coop was built this fall, I included lots of ventilation, vents that can be closed in winter to eliminate drafts, but others that are open, above their head. Plus their door, which I don't close as the coop is in the yard. I have blocked it on a few occasions to reduce excess draft on really cold nights, but there is still ventilation and the chickens can actually get out in the morning.

    Earlier this winter it had gotten as low as 2 degrees here, back in November before my chickens had their full coats and they did fine. It has repeatedly dropped into the low teens, with no sign of frostbite. This past week we have again had really cold temps, with windchills. On the really cold days I attempted to keep the chickens in their coops, but when I went to check on them they bum-rushed me and I had to just leave them out.

    One day it was -10 so it was recommended that I bring them in the garage since my coop isn't heated. Probably a good thing because my rooster showed frostbite that afternoon before I brought him in. He patrols the run so he does not stay well inside the windbreaks like the rest.

    I read many recommendations of putting vaseline on combs so since it was going to be a week of under 20 degrees and my rooster already had a tiny spot of frostbite, I rubbed vaseline into all their combs. Now, with the days in the upper 20's and the nights in the teens I have what looks like the beginning of frostbite or frostbite (whitish or yellow tips on the comb) on almost all their combs. Except the two that I did not get to put vaseline on (they are very tough to catch but also have smaller combs, so I wasn't too worried about them. Two did coat their combs with mud one day, I think that added to the problem. And my rooster is showing some dusky black in places as well, but I can't tell if it is dirt or frostbite. He is hard to catch except at night on the roost so I can't check that out until tonight.

    I don't typically keep water in the coop. I use the deep litter method and turn the straw every few days. I have never seen condensation. The straw looks pretty dry. Pine chips to absorb moisture as well. They appear to be getting the frostbite during the day, because I notice it at night when I get home. Until it warms up this weekend I check them regularly. Bringing them into the garage (35-40 degrees) just for the night was okay but getting them back out was a bit traumatic for them. They were good and warm and awake and in an unfamiliar area and suddenly I had them flying into walls.

    Help! Suggestions? Thanks!
     
  2. FoxHead

    FoxHead Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2015
    Greenville, MI
    I had an issue with frostbite as well. What I ultimately did for a fast fix was line the coop walls with plastic. This helped tremendously to eliminate the drafts that I could not locate. I bought a roll for $9 and stapled it up. I also covered the run door. Now I leave the main door open for a couple hours through out the day. There is still good ventilation from the top end of the coop when the main door is closed.
    What I noticed with the frost bite is it looks worse before it gets better. Keep with the Vaseline as long as you can until you feel you've been able to eliminate your drafts.
    This winter is such a pain. Stick with it, it's almost coming to an end!
     
  3. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    How many birds?
    How big a coop?
    How many square feet of draft free ventilation?
    What type of floor bedding?
     
  4. kychickengal

    kychickengal Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2015
    7 birds (6 standard, 1 bantam if that matters)
    6"x4"x4" high draft free, I have a drop roof in for winter to allow ventilation. There are a few "gaps" between the plywood pieces in the drop ceiling to allow humidity, etc to rise and exit.
    The pop door is generally open but to reduce draft I have a piece of plywood that blocks any draft directly on the birds. I cover it loosely in the very cold temps.
    The bedding is pine wood chips and straw.

    My biggest concern is why it is a problem all of a sudden. The bedding is pretty dry, by pretty dry I mean, there is fresh poop, but there is nothing soggy, if I turn it it is dry and crumbly.

    Thanks!
     
  5. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hot humid air rises.

    My guess is that the hot humid air is not venting fast enough and is settling on the birds heads while they roost.

    Click here and read about the virtues of proper ventilation.
     
  6. kychickengal

    kychickengal Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2015
    The ventilation is about 3 1" gaps above their head, plus the door. Above the drop roof is the slanted roof, which is about 5 inches taller in the front. The front vents are closed, but the side vents are "triangle" shapes are open. What do you suggest I do to rectify it? Remove one of the drop panels?
     
  7. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    How much space is there, top of birds head to roof?
     
  8. kychickengal

    kychickengal Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2015
    I would guess 6"-8" if they are standing. Obviously more if hunkered down.
     
  9. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    They are sitting / standing in the cold humid air.

    You will need more ventilation up high, as much as possible, anyway you can.

    Chickens give off an enormous amount of humid air just by breathing, much the same as if 5 people were sitting in a car without the windows open, or ventilation, on a cold day. How long before the windows fog up?

    Also if possible, lower the roosts, to give more air space up above.
     
  10. kychickengal

    kychickengal Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2015
    I have never seen the windows fog up, I sometimes go check around midnight, then again in the morning. I can remove the drop ceiling. Not sure I can lower the roost without it being a big project but will as soon as I can. Thanks for the help!
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015

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