Paranoid about frostbite!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hancockchickens, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. hancockchickens

    hancockchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 16, 2013
    Hancock, Maine
    I am sorry if this has already been asked, but I am wearing a hole in the floor pacing every night.

    My husband thinks we should deep litter the chicken coop, which I hear is the best method to coop-keeping, but I am very concerned that we wont keep it up properly and that moisture will gather and frost it's will get the combs and waddles of my girls! We are already having 20 and 30 degree nights!

    We have 7 ladies in a 4x5ish coop (not including the bumped out nesting area) that sets on log stilts to keep it elevated and provide shade and windbreak while they are outside. It is insulated and we have a light running (incandescent) from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm. They also have two high roosting bars so they can see out of their doubled-paned window. And we have four small vents to allow air flow.

    Assuming I can solve the mystery of the drippy waterer and come up with some boot pans to put under the roosting bars for easy drippings removal, do you think this would be a good option for us? I am currently 7 months pregnant and am relatively limited as to how much time I have left being able to do chicken coop maintenance and for that matter, who is going to scoop this turtle off her back when I fall into a four foot snowdrif?

    Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have any light, or added heat in my coop. If the light is in there for egg production, well, you gotta do what you gotta do. I just take what the chickens give me. If I was running an egg business, then maybe I would do things differently.
    You say you have small vents, in what is basically a small coop. The thing to look for in your coop is frost. If you notice a lot of frost inside, that is a sure sign that you don't have enough ventilation and you HAVE to get more. Otherwise you probably will end up with frostbit birds. And maybe sick birds with various respiratory ailments. Don't be afraid to open up the coop and get plenty of fresh air in there. The birds are built to handle the cold. You do not do them any favors closing them up, in what is practically an airtight box.
     
  3. loveourbirds

    loveourbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    as long as you dont have any drafts they should be fine, hens dont frostbite as easy as roosters. if you notice the combs starting to get frostbit, put a higher wattage bulb in on them and rub the combs with vasaline.
     
  4. hancockchickens

    hancockchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 16, 2013
    Hancock, Maine
    No signs of frost thus far. And yes, the light is for egg production. On a tight budget, and eggs are a large staple of our diet, plus we produce for two other household in our family.

    We are switching from our summer sand to shavings and hay in an effort to keep things drier. Girls may be able to scratch deeper in it. Also planning on trying a bit of scratch on the floor so they can turn their own bedding. Lazy birds!
     
  5. loveourbirds

    loveourbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    keeping them active is a major part of it. as long as they are active the blood is flowing, warming the combs and wattles. here in Ohio i really dont have problems with frostbite on my hens, just roosters with large straight combs.
     
  6. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's what I do, throw a handful of scratch in there, and let the birds turn over the bedding. They do a real good job of it too. I've had a couple of nights dip into the low thirties, and I haven't even set my coop into winter mode yet. All the windows and entry door are still open. Still getting nice afternoons.
     
  7. hancockchickens

    hancockchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 16, 2013
    Hancock, Maine
    It's almost 11am here and still under 40 degreees, high is supposed to be around 48. Supposedly. It's Maine, it could start snowing lol.

    Anyhow, I just mucked out the sand and replaced it with shavings and hay. They seem pleased. Brainstorming a drippings catcher and how to keep the waterer area dry.
     
  8. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop is a salvaged 4x8 metal shed here are a few tips and a quick look at my set up.
    My floor are planks with a layer of tin for rodent proofing. On top of the tin I have a piece of vinyl flooring cut one foot longer than the length and width of my coop (roughly). Six inches squares are cut out of the 4 corners of the vinyl flooring. This allows the friction fitted flooring to travel up the walls six inches around the perimeter of my 4x8 salvaged metal coop. Shovel out the heavy stuff into a wheel barrow. Pop out the vinyl flooring hose it off pop it back in.
    Easy Peasy!

    I have been around the sun 63 times.

    It is not my first "Rodeo!"

    Nobody "I know" heats a chicken coop.

    Healthy "cold hearty" chickens die from heat not cold.

    I live in Canada last year was subject to -40º (C or F take your pick) no light or heat in coop NO PROBLEMS. You have to feed heavier during cold snaps with extra corn I find.

    Chickens have been raised on this continent for over a hundred years without heat.

    If you feel you must supply heat to your chickens I suggest keeping your chickens in the house that way you can huddle with your birds when the hydro goes out.

    Chickens will die from cold if not given the chance to acclimatize. Hydro is more apt to go out in an ice storm or blizzard when subject to below 0º temperatures in my opinion.

    How would you supply heat then to your un-acclimatized birds ???

    Diary of last winter cold snap check out the link:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/738994/chickens-arctic-conditions-prolonged-period

    Watering
    For along time I used heater tape around a bucket with chicken watering nipples. It worked excellent. However me being me I neglected to change the water as often as I should.

    Last year I switched to white rubber contains the wife found somewhere. The freeze solid every night but the ice just pops out of them in the morning and I replenish them with fresh warm water. They have black ones at the feed store that are similar but large than mine.

    The chickens congregate around them like people having their morning coffee. The only draw back is my yard is pepper with small ice bergs the size of the buckets.

    April looks after that however..

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    I have used all types of litter for coops.

    I have not tried sand (sand gets good reviews on this site).

    Of all the things I tried to date wood pellets have been the best. (I tried wood pellets as a last resort when pine shavings were not available.) They are super absorbent and swell up and eventually turn to saw dust. The droppings just seem to vanish and turn to dust when it comes in contact with wood pellets .

    Replace my litter and clean my coop every October after I harvest my garden.


    Works for me in my deep litter method.

    I do add to pellets from time to time.

    I have anywhere from 10 to 15 birds housed in my 4x8 coop.

    Through the winter months the pellets froze harder than concrete with -40º temperatures. The poop froze before it could be absorbed by the pellets and there was like a crusty layer of poop in certain areas where they collectively took aim (no smell, messy feet or flies @ -40º). Come April things started to look after themselves.

    POOP BOARDS are the "BEST" addition yet. Handles well over ½ of the poop in my set up keeps ammonia smell in check 3½" below roost excellent for catching eggs laid through the night (roost are in cups for easier removal and cleaning). I recently friction fit a piece of vinyl flooring over my poop board.it makes clean up even easier; Pop out; Scrap; Hose; Pop in.

    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new.

    Easy peasy!.

    Chicken coop is salvaged 4x8 metal shed.

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    I house an assortment of birds in this baby barn (¼ inch veneer plywood between birds and elements) no heat no light no problems.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    What kind of waterer do you have? How do you plan on keeping the water from freezing?
     
  10. hancockchickens

    hancockchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 16, 2013
    Hancock, Maine
    I have a heated waterer which plugs into the electricity my husband ran to the coop.

    For the record, my coop is not 'heated'. The meager amount of warmth that comes off the bulb, which is enclosed, is barely worth mentioning, and it is for egg production purposes only.

    I am sure our birds will be fine. The coop Joe built is like Fort Knox and well insulated, and has good ventilation. I just get worried about these things from time to time. Could be the kooky pregnancy hormones.

    Still on the look out for drippings catcher and have begun using disposable nesting boxes (gift boxes filled with straw) for easy clean up!
     

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