How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by darcylapp, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. darcylapp

    darcylapp Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 28, 2010
    I am new to chicken keeping. I have one Bantam rooster, one Polish Bantam hen, and one Easter Egger hen. My husband and I have been letting all three out into their run most days. We live in Wisconsin, where the temperatures have ranged from 10-40 degrees over the month. Yesterday, we noticed our little Bantam rooster had what appears to be a bit of frostbite on his comb. So, I'm wondering, when should we keep them inside their coop? I'd like to let them out as often as possible as I can't imagine being cooped up is any fun for them, but I don't want them to get frostbitten or sick.

    Also, I've read that oftentimes frostbite results from humidity. Besides opening a coop window or door, how does one better ventilate the coop?

  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
  3. palochknldy

    palochknldy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2010
    Palo, Iowa
    10 degrees today in Central Iowa and the girls were crying to get out and play. Like the post before, ventilation is the key, not the weather!! We have had -20 wind chills and the girls still want to come out. Today they were in part of the garden where the snow had melted and were taking their dust baths.
  4. nuttyredhead

    nuttyredhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2010
    Southern NH
    Quote:Your climate is too harsh for Bantams? Where in NH are you located? Im in Southern NH and so far my Bantams are ok!
  5. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    -10 today and my d'uccle bantams were as bouncy as ever. No heat in the coop.
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    In many setups they are actually more likely to get frostbitten indoors than out. Frostbite usually results from humidity buildup, which occurs because the chickens and their poop give off a huge amount of water vapor. Ideal ventilation is simply a nice big hole at the highest part of the coop. I often suggest when people are building a coop that they slant the roof only one way and vent all the way across the highest side, using an extended roof as a sort of awning. Just to give you an idea. The humid air that needs to get out is also a bit warm so it naturally rises and thus gets out.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you live in a northern climate, the wise keeper considers cold hardy breeds, developed in North America over a century ago. Long before there was electricity or any thought of heating a small coop. The names themselves tell us a lot. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Plymouth Rock, Buckeye, etc. all cold places. These breeds were kept successfully and breed to be the hardy chickens we know today. They simply do not require our somewhat misguided attempts at providing heat in the winter.

    Most attempts to do so overlook that frostbite is more commonly caused by humidity condensation, ie, the lack of proper ventilation in a small coop. Attempts at providing heat is somewhat costly, somewhat dangerous and mostly only provides the owner some perceived emotional benefit. Coop design for proper ventilation is greatly overlooked.
  8. windtryst

    windtryst Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2008
    22 degrees in cloudy, no sun & my bantams are all outside and fine.
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Ventilation is air escaping from the highest part of the coop roof. There are multiple ways of accomplishing this.
    Warm air rises and takes with it humidity. Chickens breathe and thus produce large amounts of water vapor, and while they don't urinate, their poop is filled moisture as well. It's just like kids in the back seats of cars. Remember your dad yelling not to draw on the fogged windows? [​IMG][​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  10. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Humidity is not the only cause of frostbite, although of course moisture certainly does quicken the process and make body parts more vulnerable. Icy wind and prolonged exposure to severe cold causes frostbite too.
    Proper coop ventilation can certainly help. You mentioned your run...can you tarp the sides so that wind is not blowing on them while they're out in it??? Most fabric stores also sell thick, clear vinyl "cloth" that works great for blocking wind/weather when tacked up... Yeah, our little bantam roo is less tolerant of the cold than my big girls...smaller body mass does make a difference.

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