Ventilation in sub zero temps.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SheenaHinn, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. SheenaHinn

    SheenaHinn Just Hatched

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    I'm not sure what forum this should go in so if this is the wrong one, please advise. I live in Montana and right now our temperature is only about 6 below zero, but we have a fairly strong wind. I have a heat lamp in my coop and have the windows cracked for ventilation, but my question is, if the wind is blowing directly on the side of the coop with the windows, should I still keep them cracked open??? I have a vent on the other side, but it's a fairly large vent and I feel that the heat from the lamp will just go out the vent. What are your thoughts?? Thank you!
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!

    If wind is blowing directly into a vent it might be better to close it,
    IF it's also blowing directly onto the birds where they roost.
    Keeping the leeward(downwind) vent open farther is a better idea.
    But every coop and site is different.
    Pics of coop inside and out would help us help you figure out the best configuration.

    You can't 'hold heat' and have good ventilation.
    Ventilation is more important than heat.

    Most folks don't use heat as it's not really necessary,
    and heat lamps in particular can be very dangerous.
    There are many discussions on heat vs no heat in a coop,
    and many variables to consider when deciding which way to go.

    Here's a good thread to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/97134/how-cold-is-too-cold-for-a-chicken
     
  3. SheenaHinn

    SheenaHinn Just Hatched

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    Thank you, I appreciate your response. I will check out the link you provided. I will be heading out shortly to see how they fared the night. Hopefully I don't find popsicle chicks!
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You might be able to put some sort of baffle in the coop, or even outside the coop over the opening of the window and the vent opening to still allow air exchange but limit any breeze. I installed a floor level vent in my coop (in addition to the windows, soffit vents, and gable vents.) covered it with cardboard, yet there is still some air exchange from it.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Please, if you are going to use a heat lamp, secure it. Then check to make sure it's secured and secure it again. After you do that, secure it! There have been 4 coop heat lamp caused coop fires reported just here on BYC in a month.

    @aart is right....pictures of your setup would help tremendously. A heat lamp in a coop that's 8'x10' is a whole different animal in a coop that's 4'x4' so without seeing what your coop is like we are guessing, which makes it hard to help. It's also helpful to see where the windows are in relation to the roosts. I live in northwestern Wyoming. We've had more consecutive days of below zero temperatures than I can ever remember here. Right now it's 13 below zero and we just got 11-14 inches of snow. I don't use any kind of heat in my coop but I do have it very well ventilated. Windows are operable and I close the one on the side the wind is coming from (a 90mph gust last month <sigh> and winds are usually pretty high here) but leave the downwind ones opened a bit. I have a floor vent with a winter time baffle, as @lazy gardener mentioned, and their pop door into the run is open year round 24/7. I have a gable vent at the front, and we just cut holes on each side of the coop near the roof and installed those home heat register grates that we can open and shut.

    Remember, if you're trying to hold in heat, you are also holding in humidity and stale ammonia laden air. Chickens that have been acclimated to the temperatures going down seasonally handle the cold very well. Even my Silkies are doing great out there. This was my setup yesterday, and the snow was still coming down....the coop is the red building, the run is the hoop. Even the run has open areas for ventilation. Good luck!

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Instead of a heat lamp, which gets very hot (and dangerous!) why not just use some regular [incandescent] light bulbs? A 100W bulb should give out enough heat to keep the temperature warm enough for the chickens, even if you may not think it's comfortable. Remember, all chickens come complete with variable loft down coats, standard. They can withstand temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit easily without any additional heat. Especially it they have other chickens they can snuggle up with. It's more important the the coop not get too humid, as this makes it harder for them to stay warm (think: Wet down sleeping bag). That's what the ventilation is for. So long as they are out of any direct drafts they should be fine.

    Also, is your coop's power source have a breaker, fuse or ground fault interrupter? Any electrical device can go wrong,
     
  7. Lynnski

    Lynnski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Sheena and welcome to BYC's! You have some great suggestions here so just my 2-cents as a chicken newbie...

    I live in New England and we have had some cold nights! We recently had a blizzard where the girls wouldnt even come out of the coop into the covered run!

    Being a first time chicken owner, winter care really scared me! To heat or not to heat was a big struggle for me! I do run electricity out to the coop but the supplemental lighting is a cool LED bulb and double secured in place. The fear of fire led me to trust the advice given here and use no heat lamp... so ventilation vs drafts became the issue to solve. Our coop is about a 4'x5' box which typically places roosts at the same level as windows. Here are a couple pictures showing my only 2 windows for venting:

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I have kept them mostly open unless there is wind and i am so happy to say they are fine, no frostbite and laying eggs.

    We also tackled the frozen water issue with a trick i learned on BYCs using a 2.5 gal bucket with horizontal nipples and a small aquarium water heater! (i plug the water heater into a thermostat plug adapter so it wont come on till the temp drops below 40.)

    You will find what works for you and a bunch of people here willing to help and share without judging your choices. Try different things, keep what feels right! Let us know how you make out!
     
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  8. SheenaHinn

    SheenaHinn Just Hatched

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    Thank you so much for your responses! My coop is 6X8. It has two windows (on the south side of the coop) directly opposite of the roost which I keep cracked open most of the time. The vent for the coop (on the north side) is behind and above the roost. That side takes the brunt of the brutal cold winds so I've been keeping that closed most of the time because it will blow snow right on them. I have the heat lamp very securely attached to the ceiling, but only use it when temperature dips way below zero. Although I know humidity is a huge issue in the winter, My worry was the wind coming directly into the windows onto the hens. It's fairly common for us to have -20's and sometimes -30 degrees here. What makes it concerning is the wind that comes with it. That wind chill factor is what scares me. I now regret placing the coop in that direction, but too late now! At any rate, they made it through the night and seem to be thriving. Hopefully I can get some pictures up to show you my setup. I'll work on that tomorrow. Thanks again everyone!!!
     
  9. SheenaHinn

    SheenaHinn Just Hatched

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    Great setup Lynnsk!!! It looks to be well protected from winds. I'm thinking cleaning would be rather easy too. Are those tote lids you have to catch the poop??
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  10. Lynnski

    Lynnski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Sheena! We got very lucky with placement and design as our options and space are severely limited.

    Being on the coast, we get terrible Nor'Easters so wind chill is brutal! Our coop had to go in one spot, in one direction but we were lucky enough that the north and south sides didnt have the windows, I can see your concern now! I worry about these creatures every day when the weather is below freezing.

    The poop trays are actual trays with PDZ on them... We tried tote lids but they were too bumpy, grooved and uneven so they were harder to clean and scoop. We ordered these https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GBFXUT6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and they work perfectly.

    (PDZ- http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/sweet-pdz-stall-refresher-25-lb)

    Keep us posted!
     

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