no ventilation at night - a problem?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Mrs. Linkletter, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. Mrs. Linkletter

    Mrs. Linkletter New Egg

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    Jun 10, 2010
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    Hi all,

    We are new chicken owners (10 girls, RIRs and BRs) as of last spring. Our coop is ~8 x 10' and well insulated. During the day the high windows are all open for ventilation, and the chicken door is open. But since the temps have dipped to teens and below, we have been closing up the windows overnight. Temps have dropped to well below zero here in Wisconsin. We do have a heater in the coop that we started using to maintain a temperature of ~ 15 degrees in the coop, although during the day it can heat up to the 20's.

    I saw our first frostbit comb this morning, and feel terrible. (She's a RIR who happens to have the largest floppiest comb of the bunch.) I don't know if it is a ventilation/moisture problem, or if it is just too darn cold? All the girls like to be outside in our run for a good chunk of the day. I've tossed straw over the run, and they like that way better then the snow. She (RIR, Caramel) seems just fine and was anxious to tromp around outside this morning. But I rounded up all the girls and am keeping them inside today. (I believe the high temp. of the day is only supposed to be around 10 deg.) Have rubbed vaseline into all their combs.

    Other details that may be relevant ..... we have about 5" of pine shavings on the floor of the coop. I scoop out the poop every few days and throw down more shavings. Today, I added some straw on top of the shavings.

    Thanks for any advice. It's going to be a long winter here, and I don't want the girls to suffer more than they have to.

    Mrs. Linkletter
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    My initial thought is that if they are out during the day, then the moisture at night may be condensing to cause frostbite and that the heater is bringing more moisture into the air. I'd use a tiny bit of vaseline on that hen and massage gently,but it would be nicer if you didn't have to do that for the others. Are they fully feathered? So long as you don't have drafts, you should be able to avoid the heater and concentrate on heating the water. You probably need a bit of ventilation at night, even if it's into your feed/storage room and the opening is predator-proofed. Closeable louvre-vents are an option. If you see a lot of condensation on the window, it will prove you have less ventilation than required. But whatever you add be sure there is not a draft on the hens.
     
  3. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    If your windows are your only ventilation, then you need to open them at least part way. Try to not have a draft blowing right on the chickens, but do let them have some fresh air. The air coming in will be drier and help with humidity issues.

    Edited to add, unless there is some special circumstance, we don't add any heat to the coop in the winter here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  4. AnnainMD

    AnnainMD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eldersburg, MD
    You need ventilation all the time. Chickens have down that keep them warm, no heat needed. Do not close the windows unless the air blows directly on them when they are roosting. Use a 2x4 for their roost (wide side up) so they can fluff their feathers over their feet.

    Read patandchickens pages (I believe she lives in Canada):

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    You need LOTS of ventilation ALL THE TIME. But no drafts (air constantly blowing on the chickens). Good luck.

    ETA: in addition, chickens put out a lot of moisture in their breath and in their poop overnight. If the moisture has nowhere to go, it will settle on anything not protected by feathers and cause frostbite.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  5. cottage19

    cottage19 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 20, 2010
    Eastern PA
    Our coop is attached to a small barn. A people door connects the coop and barn. We put plastic over the coop windows because we get frequent high winds and wanted to keep the coop draft free. The people door is secure but not weather tight so our girls get fresh air via that door but are protected from the wind. I believe connecting a coop to another bigger building is a good way to go if you have that option. Another plus: our girls aren't fond of the snow so during recent snow events we just left the people door open and the girls are free to play in the straw we tossed down on the barn floor. They do venture out for treats but seem to like being inside in these cold, snowy days.
     
  6. swimmer

    swimmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 17, 2010
    Utah
    You can put some vasaline on their combs. Will protect from frostbite.
     
  7. Mrs. Linkletter

    Mrs. Linkletter New Egg

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    Jun 10, 2010
    WI
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I do have a window cracked open now for overnight for ventilation. Three of them are roosting by that window, but they are not directly in the draft. They are fully-feathered ginormous healthy looking birds and don't seem to mind the cold like I do. I did rub vaseline into all of their combs again this evening.
     
  8. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds good and you can regulate that opeing according to wind speed and moisture- nicely done![​IMG]
     

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