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Survived the arctic blast

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kat2, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. kat2

    kat2 Out Of The Brooder

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    This is our first winter with chickens and I'm proud to say that they did fine over a subzero weekend with the lowest temp being -24 (not counting windchill).

    We have an insulated coop based on the Wichita Cabin coop. It's 4x5 inside with 6 hens - barred rock, rhode island red, and buff orpington. We put plastic around the run, similar to what the Wichita folks did. Our coop is very exposed to the elements in windy SD - no trees. We covered the two main ventilation openings and took our ADOR1 door out of automatic mode. We kept them in the coop for the weekend, just replacing their water twice a day as it would freeze. We had no supplemental heat and they did just fine. Today's in the single digits and they are very happy to finally be out in the enclosed run again.
     
  2. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good on you! That is quite an accomplishment, weather far more severe than mine (-12F overnight, no real wind) and all is good? A tribute to the Wichita coop style and your husbandry methods!

    I am seeing a lot of great and impressive posts of severe weather like yours, and with a bit of care, experience and knowledge, folks are reporting great (whew) results (without added heating in the most severe weather!)

    ND, and SD got hit hard, and my friend in Billings reported -30F, nasty winds which made it worse, and 30 inches of snow. That was the worst I heard. She doesn't have chickens, tho!
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!
    Always a huge relief to get thru that first frigid event, that's a scary cold that I've never experienced.
    I'm assuming that -24 is Fahrenheit and not Celcius?
    Your location is not noted, so I'm not sure.

    Mobius and I and others have been talking about using remote sensors to watch coop temps and humidity, your certainly would have been an interesting situation to record.

    You're closing off 'main' ventilation caused me concern, but if you were opening access door twice a day for liquid/frozen water swap that provided some fresh air.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  4. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It was -20 here now they said its supposed to be 50 on sunday.The chickens are going to be in heaven.
     
  5. kat2

    kat2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aart, we're in South Dakota. Yes, it was -24 Fahrenheit. I was also a bit concerned about closing up the main vents. However, what I use to close them up is anything but airtight - it just keeps the major blasts of wind out. Our 12 yr old son is in charge of the chickens, and he also insisted that we close the main vents. I knew if I didn't do it, that he would be in panic mode about his chickens all weekend. I also figured (as you also stated) that when I opened our access door to replace the water, they would get a blast of fresh air. There's no frostbite on any combs, so we must have done okay.

    I was wondering about windchill and ventilation. The windchill was forecast to be -30 to -40 last weekend when it was so cold. If we left the vents open, wouldn't that theoretically expose the chickens to those windchill temps in the coop? Our coop is pretty exposed to the weather with no trees or other windbreak around it.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The baffling of ventilation to slow air flow is good, especially if they still let some air in.
    It can be hard to grasp ventilation but no drafts, and every situation is different.
    You want an exchange of air in the coop, fresh air in, ammonia laden moist air out....
    ....but you don't want feather ruffling(literally) drafts to hit birds and deter their heat holding capacity.
    This might help:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1048597/ventilated-but-free-of-drafts

    Ehhh, it's hard to say about windchill if the birds are not directly in the wind.
    Keeping track of inside coop and outside temps over time might answer that question.
    I'm sure it could have some effect, especially on an un-insulated coop.....
    ....cold coop sheathing could migrate inside affecting inside temp, but have no idea to what extent.
    Slowing the air coming into coop helps for sure, but I think windchill has more to do with human skin.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    What part of SD? I am a SD gal myself. And we did get cold!

    If the humidity is rising in the coop, frost on the walls or ceiling, then open the ventilation. Dry is best, Dry and Cold is way better than a little bit warmer and damp. The problems come with the idea of trapping heat, what you really trap is moisture.

    A deep pile of dry bedding will absorb moisture, and pull it out of the air. Ventilation above their heads works very well. Now, after years of playing with this, I would never shut that ventilation.

    Mrs K
     
  8. kat2

    kat2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Very helpful article. Thanks.
     
  9. kat2

    kat2 Out Of The Brooder

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    We're in the Sioux Falls area. Below is a picture of our coop in warmer weather. The front faces west, the opening along the top of the door is the front vent - it's about 2" tall. I figured with below zero weather and 30-40mph winds, that it would blow like crazy into the coop. Would you still keep it open? There is another vent the same size on the back side of the coop that is more sheltered; I don't worry about gusts of wind on that side. We have the enclosed run lined with plastic now to block most of the wind and snow - our hens hate the wind.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    oh - I imagine that West is the prevailing wind's direction. Mine faces South... All the same, I like how that is on the upper side. I think what I would do, is place a board on a hinge below the opening, then with a hook and eye, one could partially block the opening, leaving a 1 -2 inch gap at the top under the eaves. That would keep a lot of the elements out, but still give that great ventilation.

    Thing is, heat rises, warm moist air rises, and will move right out with that ventilation. I would hesitate to block it, especially with the humidity in Sioux Falls. East River tends to be much more humid than over here in the west.

    Mrs K (south and east of Rapid)
     

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