management to reduce chance of frostbite

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Alaskan, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    you'll keep saying that it isn't just the temps but also the humidity that leads to frostbite.

    So what temp and what humidity?

    I was in my coop and the temp was 21F the humidity was 57. So I open up both windows really big and waited a while...the temp went down to 19 but the humidity stayed were it was.

    So what should I do?

    We are having another cold snap...negative F
     
  2. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    Read the excellent post from Patandchickens on Ventilation. Yu cna search it and it'll tell you everythig you need to know.

    Basically, lots of air, but no drafts. That, plus lots of people grease up the combs of especially floppy-combed birds unsuited for our local weather.
     
  3. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I got the "lots of vent, no draft"

    but when the temps are negative then what is more critical?

    The more of the vents I close up, the warmer the coop is, but the higher the humidity.

    So what do I aim for?
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Unfortunately I don't know of any study that has empirically determined the numerical relationship between air temp, humidity and chance of frostbite. (I'd expect it'd vary a lot among breeds but also according to their health and 'history'). I'd guess that if such a study exists, it'd either be for *human* frostbite, or from the early part of the 1900s. If anyone knows of one I'd like to hear of it!

    Realistically though I think this is probably just one of the elements you have to kind of work out for yourself, for your particular situation. Do what seems most sensible, and keep an eye on the chickens, and adjust as necessary. Fortunately adult chickens have a much greater breadth of tolerance for varying conditions than, say, eggs in an incubator, so it is not like you have to hit it bang on the mark every time or game over, you know? [​IMG] A good course of action for a cold snap often involves shutting the ventilation down more at night than during the day, and using other means (e.g. a droppings board cleaned every morning first thing) to maintain air quality.

    I know that is not super helpful, but, sometimes life is just not convenient [​IMG]

    FWIW, to me 57% is not especially high rel. humidity. (e.t.a. - nor is +21 F especially cold! [​IMG])

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  5. Akane

    Akane Crowing

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    Too many variables for exact numbers. A useful thing is to get a weather program or find an online site like weather.com that gives you humidity and dew point of outdoor conditions. To make decisions about my horses and what conditions to keep in the stable I have been using weatherbug for years. It's a free little program that lets you pick a local station and gives you all sorts of weather conditions and radars plus letting you set alerts to all the parameters. Most of the stations are in the midwest so it's not always useful to other people across the country. There should be an equivalent though.

    To know what dew points to watch for takes some practice but here is an article on dew points and relative humidity comparisons:
    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/resources/askjack/2002-12-01-answers-dp-relhum_x.htm

    I've also heard of hanging non waterproofed cotton canvas and other materials across the top of the coop to absorb humidity and hold the heat down near the chickens while providing more ventilation than just having a low wooden roof.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Quote:Yep, I agree, but I thought it was warm enough that I was happy to experiment. I was trying to see if I opened everything up if the humidity would drop a bunch, and then when I put them to bed, close up most of the vents.

    Now it is negative and the humidity is almost 70.

    All this worry comes from having bought a thermometer! [​IMG]

    It does boggle my mind that frozen poop can give off any ammonia, just how does that happen?
     
  7. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Quote:COOL! My new thermometer also has dew point....you think the dew point would be a better indicator of frostbite risk?

    give me a number to look for and start to worry at! [​IMG]
     
  8. Akane

    Akane Crowing

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    The article explains some reasons dew point is a better measure of moisture than relative humidity. Changes in moisture are a bigger issue than just being slightly high. It will result in more condensation. The worst problems I had with frostbite on the japs happened when the temps got warm, everything melted, and then an ice storm came and dropped the temp right after the humidity was so high. Resulted in worse frostbite than when it was subzero temps. Plus it messed with my incubator. The humidity went from barely maintaining 40% with all the trays full to the carton I had some quail eggs in dripping water with 85% and then a day later when I actually needed to raise humidity for them to hatch it dropped back down so I had trouble making 55. There are other reasons to watch the weather.

    I would just check the dew point or relative humidity when you check the temp until you learn what is normal for your area. Also compare inside the coop to outside. Then when you see it higher than average or a greater difference between outdoor and inside you know there is more risk and to make sure your coop has good ventilation. Not to mention double check your incubator humidity more often so you don't nearly lose an entire hatch of quail eggs... [​IMG]
     
  9. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    BOCOMO
    Akane wrote Changes in moisture are a bigger issue than just being slightly high. It will result in more condensation. The worst problems I had with frostbite on the japs happened when the temps got warm, everything melted, and then an ice storm came and dropped the temp right after the humidity was so high

    2. Humidity. Cold injury is due, in part, to the effect of low temperatures on moisture in or on the body. The higher the moisture content, especially on the skin surface, the more rapid the heat loss. As humidity rises, the temperature at which cold injury can occur also rises.

    http://safetycenter.navy.mil/osh/ground/coldinjuryprev.htm (info on humans but same mechanism).

    Akane wrote I would just check the dew point or relative humidity when you check the temp until you learn what is normal for your area. Also compare inside the coop to outside. Then when you see it higher than average or a greater difference between outdoor and inside you know there is more risk and to make sure your coop has good ventilation.

    This is what we do. Have a sensor on the fence and one in the coop and adjust the vent as needed.

    They definitely dislike drafts. i didn't get the door completely closed, one evening. I went back out to check on why there was so much shifting around on the roosts and whining going on (monitor in coop). I latched the door and the whining faded into the usual `don't crowd me `heifer' growls.​
     

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