Grit needs and night time temps in coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GrammieAnn, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. GrammieAnn

    GrammieAnn Out Of The Brooder

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    Two questions: We have a run that has a contractor's sand base of about 4-6 inches deep. Do we need to supplement with grit?
    What is an acceptable night time temp in the coop. We have a heater that kicks on at 36 degrees and turns off at 45 degrees. Is this warm enough? We are in Bozeman, MT where it can get very cold even in the daytime. Is there a temperature that should be maintained for their well-being or do they adapt to the cold climate. We have 3 buff orps, 3 slw and 1 banty barred rock.
     
  2. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    If they are getting other things it would still be good but not really necessary to add grit. Grit is a much sturdier rock than most sand particles. Sand will get rubbed down quickly requiring lots of it compared to granite grit.

    If you don't have something like seramas 0F is a good night time temp in a coop. [​IMG] Chickens are hardy. My standards didn't care about -30F last winter. Providing heat when it's unnecessary has a risk of increasing the chance of illness and making your birds more sensitive to cold. The biggest problem is if the coop is warm and then they go outside and then they go back inside the constant temp changes often lead to respiratory problems in animals. Many people think they are helping their rabbits or other animal by bringing them in the house for a few hours a day in the winter and then they end up sick with a respiratory infections. It's much better to just leave them in a more constant temperature. Maybe raise it 5F and no more than 10F above the outdoor temps and even then it's not necessary until you get down below 0F unless like I said you have a cold intollerant breed like seramas and a few other bantams.

    It's far more important to make sure you have good ventilation and no moisture build up. You'll get more frostbite at just below freezing with lots of moisture and poor ventilation than at 5F with a dry coop that has good air flow.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Yup, sand isn't really grit and unless there are larger particles in it they can pick out, I would not be too sure of them having a fully functional gizzard with only the sand. It doesn't matter if they are only getting commercial mash or pellets, but if they get whole grains or grass or other Actual Recognizeable Food then it would be cheap insurance to give them grit. Either find something lying around that will do, or spend $5 on a sack -- it will last a loooong time, and can be useful for other things too, like when your driveway is icy and you are desperate for something to put under your car's tires LOL

    For normal breeds in a decently managed coop, you are setting the temp WAY WAY too high. There is a whole page discussing the issue at the 'cold coop' link in my .sig below... but in short, assuming good ventilation, most chickens are good well towards 0 F and many of them are fine well below that. If you close your coop up tight in an attempt to keep warmth in, though, it will get HUMID and you can get frostbit combs at really pretty mild temperatures, like even just around freezing. So, good ventilation and let the chickens be chickens, they'll be fine [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. pierce652

    pierce652 Out Of The Brooder

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    I agree with Akane. Last winter was very very cold here and the girls were fine in the coop at night. They perch and reffle up the feathers. Think back to colonial days, they had chickens but no electricity.
     
  5. chickendude

    chickendude Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did anyone insulate their coop? It seems futile to insulate if you are not going to heat the coop. Any opinions?
     
  6. GrammieAnn

    GrammieAnn Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your help with the temp and grit questions. However, this leads to another question re ventilation. Why is it not appropriate to open the window in the coop to supply ventilation instead of carving holes for vents up high?
    Doesn't a vent cause drafts as much as a window?
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:That would be true if there were no heat sources in the coop and if outdoor temperature were constant. However you have *chickens* in there, each running something like 7-10 watts of body heat, plus you can capture the sun's heat, plus it is warmer in the daytime than at night. (Also, in larger coops on slab or dirt floors, the ground will warm the coop to a considerable degree for at least the first half of the winter)

    Thus, there can be quite substantial benefits to insulating even without electric heat.

    As a sort of "best case" illustration, but the same things occur in smaller less-well-designed-for-winter coops, winter temperatures up here get down to -35 C (thats what, upper -20s F?) and it is really common to have days that do not get *up* to -18 C ( i.e. do not get *up* to 0 F). I do not heat my chicken building, but being large and slab-floored and with good insulation in the ceiling and 6" stud walls, it does not get below about -6 or -8 C (low 20s F). That's insulation for ya [​IMG]

    Again, it works well in small coops too, especially if you are set up to collect the sun's heat and store it for overnight.

    So absolutely there is value to insulating despite not running electric heat. Indeed, if you have a well designed coop, insulation may well prevent you from having any *need* of electric heat [​IMG]

    Quote:Draft = cold breeze blowing at chickens. The closer to "chicken level" the opening is, the more it tends to be a draft. Windows are usually a lot closer to the floor and to roosts than wall-top vents are.

    However a bigger reason for using vents atop walls, as opposed to windows, during the winter is that warm air rises and the warmest air in the coop is what you want to get rid (perversely enough), because that's what's carrying the largest amount of humidity. There is a temperature gradient from ceiling to floor in any coop in the winter. Exhausting X amount of warmer air near the ceiling gets a lot more water vapor removed than exhausting the same X amount of cooler air from lower down. Thus you get more 'bang for your buck' so to speak -- more humidity control for a given amount of airflow.

    Good luck, have ufn,

    Pat
     
  8. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    [​IMG] With pat around I've got nothing to add........ [​IMG]
     
  9. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Also because hot air rises having vents at the top results in the hot air pushing it's way out and more passively letting some fresh cool air in. The cold and hot air run into each other and slow down. If we have openings near the bottom or middle air will be drawn in as the hot air rises away from the chickens and whatever other heat sources like heated waters are in the coop creating a lot more of a breeze or draft. You'll have a collection of humid air at the top finding any way out while really cold air sucks in from the bottom.
     
  10. GrammieAnn

    GrammieAnn Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm convinced, now to get my dh to put in those vents! Now that the coop is up and hunting season is upon us he is not very inclined to do this. Fingers crossed!
     

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