To heat or not to heat....

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by critterkeeper25, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello,

    We are the parents of 18 hens, all about 9 months old. We live in New Jersey. It's been really cold and often wet here for the past few weeks. We've had daytime temps in the thirties with night temps in the teens with several temps in the 20's day and single digits at night. Also, along with this fabulous weather ([​IMG] I hate the cold!) we have had some serious wind chills. We try to free range our hens every day. Well, yesterday, I noticed that almost all of our RIR's (4), and at least 2 of our Buff Orpingtons have some degree of frost bite on their combs [​IMG]. We also have 5 Dominique hens that are moulting and seem to be having trouble keeping warm. I have read and re-read posts on here about the pros and cons of heating coops. I have also read that in order to keep the frostbite from worsening in the chickens they should be removed from the coop and put in a warm place. Some have said that they keep them in their garage, which must be heated as our garage isn't and water freezes in the hose in there and I am sure that delicate comb,wattle tissue would also freeze. I have also read of some that bring their chickens into their homes. I'm not sure that I would want to bring 6 chickens into my home, even if I didn't have 2 very curious cats just waiting to have a good close look-see at the chickens. The only alternative that I can see is to heat the coop. I just don't know what to do. The coop gets frequent cleanings, no poop moisture build up from that. And our coop isn't air tight but we decided to install a vent in the soffit just to make sure that there was adequate ventilation in the coop. We spent most of the evening last night (until 10pm to be exact) covering the chicken run in tarp and wrapping the sides with 4mil vapor barrier plastic to cut down on the chances that they will get wet and freeze afterward and to reduce the effects of wind chill. My husband read about a DIY water heater involving a 40w bulb and a cinder block (he made this) which keeps the water (also kept outside in run) from freezing. Although it still froze when it got down to 9 at night last week.

    Any thoughts? Recommendations? Thanks![​IMG]
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    South Georgia
    I would be sure the run you covered with a tarp, etc. allows for plenty of ventilation, at or near the top, to avoid any buildup of humidity or ammonia in there. Your coop might also require more ventilation, which is the usual cause of frostbite. There is an excellent article about ventilation linked in y sig line.

    Good luck!
     
  3. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you so much for replying to my thread. It was actually the article you mentioned that I read and afterwards had a very serious discussion about ventilation, drafts, frostbite, wind chills etc. with my husband. It was after this reading that we made sure to provide more ventilation in our coop. As to the run, It is in no way air-tight. LOL I just had to go outside this morning to put some planks on top of the tarp on the roof because it was flapping wildly in the winds we have today. We just wanted to try to make the chickens as dry as possible and give them a place to get out of the wind. We live on a hill across the street from an open farm field. If we had a wind turbine electricity generating system, we could probably generate enough electricity to power a small town with the constant winds we have here.. When it's cold out it is brutal!
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I kind of figured the run would not be air tight, but just wanted to be sure.

    You may have your problems in hand now; I hope so. Of course, if you see any condensation, that means there is still too much humidity. And just as an FYI, ammonia levels reach a point where they present a danger to animals and humans before we can smell the ammonia.

    Good luck!
     

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