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Frozen Latch Help

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jenkassai, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. jenkassai

    jenkassai Songster

    Apr 28, 2011
    Good morning all!

    Just went out to open my pop door before leaving for work, and the latch was frozen! We have a sliding / bolt latch type, and in the evening I close the door, slide the latch, and clip the bolt snap at the opposite end of the latch so no clever critters can slide the latch to open the door. Well I was able to unclip the bolt snap, but it took a few minutes of me trying to warm the latch with my hand before I was able to get it unstuck. This was our first fairly cold night with a really good frost (into the high 20s). Any suggestions on what I can do going forward? This morning it wasn't bad, but when it is 10 or below I don't want to be out there freezing my butt off (not to mention my hand!) so I can get the latch undone! Is there a different type of "lock" I should use for the pop door? The coop is big enough that they have plenty of space if they can't get out, I'd just like to give them the option. In the past when I've experienced this with locks we use on our dog kennels, I've used one of those fireplace / grill lighters on them to thaw them out, but obviously don't want to do that with this latch because it is up against the wood siding of the coop!

    I guess that brings up another question. For those of you in cold areas, is there a certain temperature at which you draw the line as far as letting the chickens out? My dogs are Akitas, which LOOOOVE the cold and never seem to be bothered by it, but I guess I could use them as a guideline, in that if I think it's too bitter for them to be out in their kennels then the chickens should stay in the coop?


  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    try some vaseline or wd40 and work it back and forth.
  3. Eggs-quisite Eggs-cursion

    Eggs-quisite Eggs-cursion In the Brooder

    Jul 21, 2011
    Quote:Using the dogs as a guideline is a great idea.

    I tend to keep the chickens in if snow would blow in the door onto the shavings. The hens keep it warm enough on many freezing days to get it above freezing in the coop and that snow will melt and cause a health hazard with wet shavings. No matter how cold, though, I make sure they have good ventilation because ammonia is not healthy to breathe.

    I also don't let them out for more than about an hour if it's 10F or below because I'm afraid of their feet getting frostbit from walking on snow/ice. Aren't there guidelines like that for dogs? You've seen the little booties the dogs wear on the Iditarod, right?
  4. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Did the latch get wet somehow? If you can keep it dry, and lubricate with some WD40, as suggested in another comment, that should help.
  5. peterlund

    peterlund Songster

    Jan 29, 2010
    MA Cranberry Country
    Quote:X2 on the Vaseline.
  6. CupOJoe42

    CupOJoe42 CT Chicken Whisperer

    Apr 11, 2011
    I love Akitas! We had one who passed away 2 summers ago and would get another in a heartbeat if we could afford it. My DH is waiting for our Labbie-mix to go.
  7. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Songster

    Jul 19, 2009
    Vaseline or cheap cooking spray!

  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Can you use just a tiny squirt of the stuff you use on iced up car door locks? Otherwise, an outdoor extension cord and your hair drier might do the trick.

    That's why my pop hole doors always open from the inside. I didn't want to have to mess with frozen locks when it's below zero temperatures and dark out, bent over and fumbling with gloves on. When the latch is inside, it stays dry, I have light in the coop and I can use something easy for a latch, because the raccoons can't reach it. If that would work for you, it's something you could think about as a future modification. Some people don't want to have to go into the coop to open and close the door, though. I figure it's no worse than walking through the run. I don't know if you have a walk-in coop.

    For your existing door, I'd think about putting a hasp type of latch on it. The have more play in the latch. That's the kind with the loop and a flat piece that has a slot that fits over the loop. Then you just have to figure out what to put on the loop, to secure it. I'm not sure what to suggest for something that the raccoons can't open, that won't freeze up.

    I usually let the chickens decide whether they want to be outside or in the coop. As the weather gets colder, they start coming inside to warm up and going back out later. If the highs are below zero, then they usually choose to spend the day inside.

    We usually keep them locked in the coop if severe weather is coming. Like a blizzard is coming, a tornado has been sited or just a really severe storm is coming. They're safer in the coop than blowing around the yard. I'm a little more protective of younger chickens, that haven't been exposed to rain or snow for the first time. They can become stranded outside or somewhere in the yard that they tried to take cover. Adults, they can decide where they want to be.

    VI KING RANCH Songster

    Feb 23, 2011
    Campbell River
    Hairspray and a lighter...it always works
  10. Quote:lol.. that makes a NICE torch! [​IMG]

    When I lived up North we just used a lighter on any frozen latches.. also used to heat up the car keys when the car doors were frozen
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011

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