ventilation problem in small coop... need ideas:)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by pipthepeep, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    APOLOGIES FOR THE LONG POST! Ok so I have been reading all the posts on ventilation and winterizing and frostbite for the last several months, and thought i had my setup ok....and just in the last week or so my two chickens have started having a problem with mild frostbite on their combs (yes, 2 birds, both roosters....and yes, it was an accident.. lol)

    Here is the setup:
    I live in Northern NJ where the weather in winter frequently gets into the teens and sometimes single digits at night (20s is probably the average night temp in winter). I only have two birds, and the set-up I have for them is somewhat unusual. They live most of the time in a large chain-link dog kennel/run, inside of which is a rabbit hutch converted into a coop. The part that they roost in is basically a 2.5 foot by 3 foot box made of hardware cloth that attaches to the solid part of the rabbit hutch (the hutch is sort of like a room they go through before they enter the area they roost in at night and has deep shavings on the floor). They can come and go from the hutch/coop into the kennel as they wish, since the kennel is predator proof.

    For the winter, I have covered most of the sides of the kennel with 6 mil plastic-- I covered both long sides (leaving a slight gap at the top for ventilation) and half of one of the short sides, and left one entire short side open for ventilation. Ventilation in the run is not a problem at all.

    For the small roosting "box," I have used thick styrofoam insulation about half way up three sides (making sure they can't eat the styrofoam!), with the rest of these three sides covered in plexiglass. The side where the box attaches to the hutch has a strip 6 inches wide at the top that is open hardware cloth for ventilation (and runs the full side of the box). The ceiling of the coop is covered in styrofoam and shingles, with a four inch wide gap down the middle for moist air to escape.

    I have noticed that they tend to sleep with their little mouths facing outside into the corner of the coop (opposite from the ventilation gap), so maybe this is contributing to moisture build up in the coop? I could move the roost closer to the middle of the coop where the air would have more of a chance to escape upwards rather than hanging around the coop walls? or I could remove one of the plexiglass panels so that only 2 sides of the coop are completely covered....any thoughts? I dont think it would be too drafty since the coop is in the run and the run is sheltered by the 6 mil plastic....

    I know that small coops need more ventilation and therefore are harder to keep warm, and my coop is really small. This ventilation stuff combined with the cold has me worried!! I know the basics, but I just don't have any idea how to make it work in such a small coop!

    Thanks for reading:)
     
  2. birdicus7

    birdicus7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you could post some pics it would help. It sounds to me like they should be ok in the coop you describe. If the coop is as small as you say could it be possible that their combs are high enough to be in the ventilation zone and some draft on them? You can put some vaseline on their combs for protection.
     
  3. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2010
    will try to get some pics up....frostbite is on combs and wattles. and im pretty sure i have noticed frost patterns on the inside of the plexiglass, which i know is a bad sign:(
     
  4. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    PICTURES....here is my humble coop....it's pretty self-explanatory...the big box is where they roost....bottom is styrofoam wrapped in duct tape (no gaps-- what looks like gaps is 2 diff colors of duct tape) and top is plexiglass over hardware cloth. The part of the roosting box next to the hutch is open hardware cloth for ventilation, and their actual roost is about halfway up the styrofoam area-- although it can be moved up or down as needed.

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    does this look ok for a small coop? i have been having a frostbite problem, with just one of my 2 birds
     
  5. One suggestion would be to try and lower the roosting area during the colder winter months. That will keep them out of the draft area above. Give it a try and see if that helpls. In addition maybe a small makeshift poultry heater under their roost.
     
  6. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a small coop with what is considered less than ideal ventilation, however, I clean the poop off the poop board daily and scoop out the big wet pieces from the floor as well. I add dry shavings and DE as needed to keep things dry. That seems to be key in dealing with a situation with less ventilation. I never see condensation on the window in the morning. I've never seen a set up quite like yours so I'm not sure.
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    Does the roosting box have a solid bottom?
     
  8. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2010
    Coop doesn't have a solid bottom-- the bottom is hardware cloth with lots of layers of shavings and hay. I do use droppings boards and clean them every other day. My setup is obviously rather, um, "unique"I guess you could say....I wasn't really planning on ending up with the birds long-term (I was just caring for them as chicks until they could go live at the barn that I work at)...but then they both turned into Roos...and that plan fell through since the barn couldn't take them back given that we already have a rooster there! I love having them, and definitely don't mind keeping them....but I have to wait to get a "real" coop:) The seem to really like the little roosting box too
     
  9. palochknldy

    palochknldy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Could the plastic and/or plexiglass be adding too much moisture? We have tarps around our pen and Ty-Vek(stuff you wrap your house with before siding it) covering the door. We were going to change it all to plastic and then I was afraid that with the sun hitting it, it would get too warm in there and cause condensation. The Ty-Vek adds some wind proofing and also allows for some air to flow through. We are in Iowa and last week it was in the negative teens. The 4 girls are all fine. We also have no additional lighting or heat and got 4 eggs today.
     
  10. pipthepeep

    pipthepeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was thinking it may have something to do with the fact that when they roost, they like to use one particular corner, so their little mouths with their hot breath are pressing up knid of close to a corner of the coop...if the roosted in the middle, I think it would be easier for the moisture to actually escape to the ventilation area. I moved their roost further away from the back of the box, so it is more centered, and will see if that helps:) I don't think there is a draft on them...I have watched them sleep (haha that sounds creepy!) and when they hunch up to roost, they are well below the ventilation opening. My roost is easy enough to move, so I will try experimenting with the placement of that!
     

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