To heat the coop or not to heat the coop? That is the question.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Sparkleyhead, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Sparkleyhead

    Sparkleyhead Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 14, 2013
    I really don't want to heat the coop, but I am running into a bit of a problem. I have noticed that my hens and roosters are starting to get small black specks of frostbite on their wattles and combs and it has sent me into full panic mode. I have cleaned and disinfected their frostbitten areas and slathered all of their combs and wattles in petroleum jelly to combat the cold. I have also started spot cleaning the coop everyday to try and keep down moisture. Before this I was confident that my chickens would be fine this winter, but this has now made me question my coop and just how warm my chicken are able to keep themselves in it. It is made out of pine and is not insulated, but I did stain it. Here is a link to what it looks like from the website I bought it from. It's only the coop, not the run and there are nesting boxes on both sides not one. http://www.cconly.com/coop__hutches/cc-18_series.

    Last night and tonight I have put a 100 w infrared heat lamp in there in hopes of taking off some of the chill, but I feel bad for the birds because of the red light. I just don't want them to get frost bite. What should I do?
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    You should figure out how to ventilate that coop. I don't know how cold it gets where you are, but we've had lows in the -20's over the past few weeks, and I have had no frostbite issues. My coop is 8'x16', has rafters 8' up, no heat or insulation. As a matter of fact, one of the windows is open about 2" at the top. Get rid of the excess moisture, and your chickens should not have any more problems.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  3. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with Bobbi-J....my coop is not insulated and I do not provide heat lamps. My coop stays dry and is well ventilated in the rafters. The temps however don't get below 5 degrees here. I think you need to evaluate your ventilation and coop set up. Good luck! Hope they get over that frostbite soon
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Last year, I had the black dots, I partially closed the vents with loose cardboard. This year, we have had longer more severe cold weather, well below 0, some nights in the negative 20's. I left those windows open, and am leaving the pop up door open, it is not moist or warm when I open the coop, but it is dry.

    Frostbite is not caused by cold, it is caused by cold + moisture.

    If you want to insulate, putting up cardboard is cheap and effective, but mine is just boards covered in tar paper. No heat, but no moisture in the coop. I leave my water outside, and give them fresh water once a day. They do not get 24 hour warm water to drink.

    Mrs K
     
  5. whittychick

    whittychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yea I too leave the water outside, it's frozen every morning but I have rubber bowls that are super easy to pop ice out!
     
  6. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Laying a deep layer of pine shavings really helps keep down the moisture too. I clean up under roosts each morning too, no matter what time of year it is. Not to be offensive, but those are small coops even for just a few chickens. Are the vents pictured on those coops able to be closed or not? If those vents are at the level of the roosts, that could cause the problem. The drafts will be on them when temperatures are the lowest at night. My coops are similar to Bobbi-J's coop he described in ceiling height. I like the idea of a high roof for airflow so the birds don't endure drafts upon them at night. Plus I don't like bending over to walk into the coop. I sympathize with you folks living in those very cold climates. The coldest it gets here is 18.

    Tough time of year to do it, but I'd work on building your own coop to your own specifications. You'll be glad you did in the long run.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  7. Sparkleyhead

    Sparkleyhead Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you everyone for the helpful feedback and best wishes! I live in Maryland and while it doesn't get extremely cold here ( the coldest it has gotten so far is upper 20s), it's almost ALWAYS humid which stinks. I don't keep any food or water in the coop either. Unfortunately the three vents on the top of each side of the coop can't be regulated. They are just open slats. The roosts are all the way at the bottom 2-3 inches from the litter pan. When I was researching coops, this one said it could hold 8 hens, but I thought it was kind of small too once it was all put together, so I only have 6 in there. Oh how I long and dream of building my own chicken palace! I would love nothing more! Alas money is extremely tight and their dream home will have to wait. I will just have to modify the one that they have as best I can until then.

    So I guess my next question is, how else can I regulate the humidity in my coop??? One of the reasons I put the red light in there was in a vain hope of possibly drying out the air a little. If only I could shove a dehumidifier in there!

    Here is a picture of the whole set up to help with size perspective instead of the link to the site. There are 3 more ventilation slats on the other side along with a back door that isn't air tight.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    It may very well a few pecking at each other rather than frostbite. Perhaps you could post a picture of combs/waddles. With a coop that small, are you letting them out at sunup and locking them in a sundown? Chickens left too long in a small space can be destructive to each other. Chickens exhale quite a bit, so air quality is important to keep air fresh and moisture from increasing. Less space makes that more difficult.
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    IMHO, that coop is way too small, and way too tight to house six hens. Is it in a secure run where you can leave the door open at night? If it only gets down into the 20's, that's plenty warm to keep the doors open if possible. I didn't even put the windows in my coops until it got down to 0 more than 2 nights in a row. I'd have that door open as much as possible.I'd also take out the heat lamp. I think it would only make matters worse, adding heat to the humidity. It seems like you'd be asking for respiratory problems.

    My coops certainly aren't "palaces" - just sheds that my wonderful, loving, patient husband has built for me. We used as much leftover material from various building projects as we could.
    [​IMG]
    This one was originally a tack shed that he built. The horses are now at my mom's, so it became a chicken coop.
    [​IMG]
    This one is 8'x12. The first four feet is a separate feed room/storage area.
    [​IMG]
    South-facing windows for better natural light in the winter.

    Both coops have a 12x16' covered run. We used 2x4" welded wire with 1/2" hardware cloth around the bottom 2 feet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  10. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, the coop is too small. Unfortunately this small coop business geared toward backyard chicken owners is a fairly recent development. I turned a woman away from buying a small coop at a feed store once, and could tell she was very new to the hobby. I spent some time informing her after she asked more questions. Proper amount of space is important in many ways.
     

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