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Ideal humidity/temps

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HeatherFeather, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I keep reading posts about the importance of the relationship between humidity and temps. in the winter. Does anyone know of any kind of graph about this...or can anyone outline for me what I should want to aim for?

    Also, how would one control humidity inside the coop?

    Currently, I have a smallish coop 5 x 6 ft not including nests. The airspace is much larger though, as the 'coop' is a sectioned off part of a nice, well built shed which is 12 x 12 ft. The shed is only insulated along two walls-those which receive wind. There is a little pop door out to an outside run which is 6 x 14 ft. There is a double wide people door, which doesn't seal perfectly, you can see light through the cracks. I can open the double door fully, or just one part, for ventilation each day. There are windows in the shed, but they're going to be frozen closed pretty soon. I currently have 17 standard sized chickens, but I'm aiming to get down to 10 or 12 as I think they're crowded, and my other half is irked by the food bill.

    I just put in a thermometer and humidity meter.

    Today, the temp. was just above freezing in the coop and the humidity was at 85 %. It was an awful day outside, just below freezing and slushy, with a big snow storm.

    I expect to see a lot of this type of weather through the winter, alternated with periods where it gets extremely cold for a week at a time.

    I also am going to add a heated waterer tommorow and am concerned about what that will do to the humidity.

    So, what's good, and how do I control it? I have a dehumidifier that I *could* use if it was an emerg. but don't really want to use. And should I be sealing those cracks around the door? I was thinking of just stacking up straw in front of part of the door.

    Advice appreciated!

    Thanks!

    Heather=^..^=
     
  2. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ideally you should aim for a humidity of 50%. Yours sounds a little high. Remember that the chickens can handle cold, definitely no problem at freezing, but they will have problems with cold and high humidity. It should help to add some ventilation up high to draw off the moist air they produce. It sounds counter-intuitive to add ventilation when it is wet out, but it will help get rid of that damp air. With good ventilation, and acclimation, they can handle very cold (like zero degrees). Keeping the poop cleaned up every day will help as well. A heated water dish shouldn't add much to the humidity. Using a product like Stall Dry to keep litter dry will help also.
     
  3. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hmmm. I'll think about adding a vent, I guess if I really need to. How would I do that? Is cracking the doors open wide during the day not enough? I can see how it will rise during the night though.

    and can I really get it lower than outside? I don't have a humidity meter for outside, maybe I need one there too...
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Olympia WA
    For venting, you need to have the vents open constantly (the high ones in winter). And keep the warmth in the coop as much as possible--so if you can keep the door shut, that would probably be best. I haven't measured my humidity (yet--I just bought a thermometer/humidistat) but my coop seems quite dry all the time and I live in the rain capital of the NW. Right now it is super cold and dry, but we just came through about 3 weeks of nothing but rain.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
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    Yes, you CAN get indoor humidity lower than outdoors, if your indoor is warmer (I am not advocating electric heating necessarily -- there are LOTS of things that can act to make your coop warmer than the outdoors, esp. at night. See 'cold coop' page in .sig below for that subject). What matters in terms of frostbite is relative humidity. For a given amount of water vapor in the air, relative humidity is lower at warmer temperatures.

    Also, in terms of temporary weather 'blips', it sure seems to me like having your coop start out pretty dry -- dry wood, dry shavings, nonpooey, nonhumid -- seems to create a sort of 'humidity sponge' that can even out temporary swings in the weather.

    Commercial chicken barns seem to aim for around 50-70% humidity. IMO for backyard flock purposes it's when you get to 75-80% that you start getting a bit iffy, and I'd say above 85-90% humidity is really courting trouble.

    HYGROMETERS ARE NOT USUALLY ACCURATE right out of the package; you need to use something like the salt method (see 'incubating and brooding eggs' section of BYC forum for instructions) to figure out how wrong yours is so you know how much to add or subtract to its reading. I would not suggest believing a hygrometer reading otherwise [​IMG]

    Cracking the doors is probably not enough ventilation, and is not a good location for it in wintertime. See my ventilation page (link in .sig below -- sorry to keep doing that, but the whole reason I did those pages was so I don't have to type all this stuff over and over and over [​IMG]) for details as to construction, location, size, and management of vents.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  6. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's a great page Pat!

    Thanks so much.

    I had kinda wondered about the humidity meter...I think for sure its an el cheapo. I'll look into the salt water thing and see if I can figure it out.

    The weather got colder and I kept the double shed doors open today, and put a little hydrated lime and DE into the deep straw litter. The litter is still pretty fresh, but it doesn't seem 'crunchy' any more.

    I managed to get a 70% reading on the meter for most of the day and currently its at 65%.

    I have to be careful with what I do for venting, as I can't make the shed too 'livestocky' as I need to consider our suburban resale value, and we're aiming to sell this place in the spring/summer.

    I can make a vent from an old louvered bi-fold door and put it on the end wall of the gable roof, up high, across the shed from where the chooks are. The vent will be about 15 X 15 inches. I can make a panel that secures on and off for bad weather. The louvers will give it wind/rain protection and also it will be under a small overhang, and on the not windy side of the shed. Does this sound good?

    Edited to add:

    We will be down to 10 or 12 chickens in a few days as a friend is taking our extra 5. Should that be enough vent space for that many? I sure hope so....
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Honestly the only hygrometers I've dealt with that *haven't* had a large chance of large errors have been expensive science-lab type ones... even the pricier "retail store" type ones can not be counted on and should be checked.

    I managed to get a 70% reading on the meter for most of the day and currently its at 65%.

    That is good; even if your hygrometer is inaccurate, it would appear you are getting your humidity down, which is desirable whatever the numbers really are [​IMG]

    I can make a vent from an old louvered bi-fold door and put it on the end wall of the gable roof, up high, across the shed from where the chooks are. The vent will be about 15 X 15 inches. I can make a panel that secures on and off for bad weather. The louvers will give it wind/rain protection and also it will be under a small overhang, and on the not windy side of the shed. Does this sound good?

    Sounds reasonable to me. And not too "livestocky" (I like that word [​IMG])

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  8. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eggs-salad! I'll post pics when I'm all done [​IMG]

    Thanks so much Pat!
     

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