High moisture in exsteme cold: any way to reduce it?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SnowFairy, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. SnowFairy

    SnowFairy New Egg

    Apr 18, 2011
    So I live in Fox, Alaska, and we've hit -40 several times already this year.

    Just before snowfall my husband finished our little bird barn, insulation and all, and set up a spare propane heater to keep it above freezing (to reduce chore time: keeping the water thawed). Well the moisture level was outrageous-- above 80% when we finally pulled out (opened) all the vents and the space above the door so our crazy-dry Alaskan air would draw out the moisture.

    And that's worked. Moisture's down to 50/60% sometimes (and frost-crystals everywhere-- including freezing the door shut each day; ugh)

    But that also means our heat is going out, and by last night's calculation we've gone through $200 of propane this month alone. (We have my rabbits in there too, so it's not all for 2 dozen chickens, but still.)

    Realizing that electricity (while still possibly $200/month) would be drier than the propane, swapping heat sources (to an electric heater someone left us) is the next effort, along with re-closing the huge heat-gaps, now that the heat's not adding moisture. But Everything I've read says chix are wet birds, so I'm nervously anticipating the problem to return.

    Does anyone else have ideas about reducing the moisture level in the coop? Back at the beginning it was just *nuts*. We both wear glasses and couldn't even see to do our chores as long as we were in there.
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    An unvented propane heater dumps literally gallons and gallons of water vapor into the air each day. We inherited a couple when buying our house, and I removed them and sold them. With propane here at $2.29 a gallon, I cannot hardly afford to heat the house. Our chicken barn does not get heated.

    You might want to consider reading from a fellow Alaskans about what they do. Here is a good thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=421122

    have regular cold snaps to -30F. There simply is no way for me to heat our barn economically. Our ventilation is wide open to keep the humidity as low as possible. It is normally around 20-30% or less. We only keep cold hardy breeds. The floor is deep with yellow straw. We use heated dog bowls with a small pail sitting inside for water. Our birds do just fine. Again, you likely need to be conversing with fellow Alaskans as those who live in the southern 3/4 of the US likely cannot comprehend, truly, the Alaskan winter.
  3. baldessariclan

    baldessariclan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2010
    Wichita, KS
    Whew! You guys are having a rough one this year. I'm from AK and went to college at UAF back in the 80's, but don't ever remember it hitting -40 F so early in the season.

    Anyways, you'll want to forget about using the propane heater inside -- the exhaust is basically nothing but CO2 and water vapor, and hence your humidity problem.

    You could maybe try switching to electric heat in a small, insulated, (and ventilated) area in the barn -- ??

    Another idea would be to figure out a way to come up with a burner and/or settup that vents the exhaust outside -- maybe have that propane heater blow into a long section of stove pipe that runs through the building and then vents outside? The heated outer surface of the stove pipe would heat the air in the barn, but exhaust (i.e. the water vapor) would go outside. You'd probably lose a lot of heat w/ the exhaust, too, though, unless the section of pipe in the building is really long, and/or you can figure out a way to add radiator-type fins to it. And of course, could be a fire hazard venting something like a propane heater directly into a small pipe like that. Hmmm...

    Similar (more traditional) concept would be a wood stove, but you'll need a lot of wood (and spend a lot of time refilling it).

    *Sigh* -- nothing's ever simple at 40 below...

    Anyways, prime consideration is that whatever heat source you use, you'll want to keep those birds dry and ventilated, but draft free. Note that those cold-weather breeds can easily handle down to 0 F (once again, if you keep them dry and out of drafts), so you may not really need to add that much heat to begin with.
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Could you consider the tank de-icers or plug-in waterers for keeping H2O liquid, and just a small (well secured) heat lamp or two spaced apart for warming "stations" for your animals??? That way you could re-cover some of your ventilation - maybe cover all of your ventilation with loose weave fabric to allow moisture to escape..???
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Use a poop board or tray and remove all the night time droppings every morning. That will take out some of the moisture. The bulk of it will come from the chickens' respiration though, and there's nothing you can do about that.

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