Wet Coop bedding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by moukoyui, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. moukoyui

    moukoyui Just Hatched

    Hello, this is my first time posting. I am a new chicken mom. I am trying to solve our chicken coop mystery. Our chickens have a large 12x18 outdoor run that has natural cover from trees and a small (kit from tractor supply) coop with nest boxes. Our birds are a mixed flock - 2 orpingtons that we purchased as laying hens, and 2 (2 roosters and a hen) that were hatched out at my school ( I am a teacher) that are meat birds. They have free access to the pen and coop all day, but they put themselves to bed at dusk. Their food and water are outside. The coop has spots for 2 low roosts, but the meat chickens cannot use them and typically knock them over.

    Sorry for the novel length description, but the problem we have right now is that the coop bedding (pine shavings and hay in the nest boxes) is getting increasingly damp. We live in the Carolina's and have humid weather all year round. Our bedding system worked GREAT in the summer and we hand little smell and nice clean birds. Now that winter has arrived, it does not seem to be drying and I am now bedding a shallow layer and cleaning everyday and it is still smellier than I would like. My meat birds also have dirty breast and belly feathers.

    What am I doing wrong?
    Help from a chicken newbie in NC
  2. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    More experienced folk than I may indeed prevail, but a couple of questions for you:

    Is there leakage from rain?

    How is the ventilation in the upper part of the coop?

    Is there condensation in the coop? From high humidity and low ventilation? Check the walls and roof, any glass or metal areas too...

    How are you closing the coop at night? Do you leave the pop door open? or the window?

    Is the coop floor itself on the ground? Could moisture be seeping up inside if so?

    I have to think, not being experienced with meat birds, that they all still need a roost of some sort. Can you attach the roosts more securely?

    Perhaps a poop board under the roost then...that you could scoop out on a daily basis, and consider a product called Sweet PDZ, which I think is zeolite, used in horse stalls to dry up poop and reduce ammonia. That can go on the poop board if you fashion it with a lip...and as a layer under your bedding. You may also need a thicker layer of bedding...I like pine shavings like you are using myself...

    and [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  3. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    Welcome to BYC!

    I have the same issue in winter in CT. Humidity never goes below 60-70%, and is frequently in the 90's or 100%. The humidity is a function of snow being on the ground all winter and temps fluctuating from the 20's to 30's most days. So there is nothing I can do about it unless I want to heat the coop, which isn't going to happen! When the temps are in the 20's, its not an issue as things freeze rather than get wet. But when temps are in the 30's-40's, everything gets wet pretty quickly. I use hay for bedding, and just add a new layer each day so they have a dry layer to walk and sleep on (I have ducks that sleep on the ground). By spring it is 12" deep or so, and the bottom 6 inches composts into the best garden food you can imagine. I shovel it out 2X a year, putting the composted dirt on the garden and any non-composted hay in the compost pile to give it more time to convert to compost. I shoveled the coop out in November, and got 12 heaping wheelbarrow loads of dirt for the garden.
  4. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    @thomasboyle , I would kindly suggest that you may likely have a coop ventilation issue. I have been measuring coop humidity, the chickens warm the coop overnight, the inside temp is warmer than outside by 10-15 degrees, and the coop RH is nearly always lower than outside RH if chickens are inside. My coop seems well-ventilated, and it is completely dry inside. And no smell. I add bedding in the coop about once a month. Mostly for insulation. Other than the chickens and bedding, this ia a non-heated, non-insulated coop. In addition, hay alone may not be the best option.

    I would add that there are things you can do about it. The OP is describing a situation that may easily create illness in her new flock. It is important to manage our chickens' environment and correct accordingly.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  5. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    Thanks Mobius. We've been having a very wet winter. It has snowed and rained on a regular basis. Today was the first day without rain or snow of the past four days. We've had 4 inches of rain and 3" snow since Jan 1. Rain is very unusual for CT in winter, but we need it. My pond was down 24" at Thanksgiving, and I checked it this past weekend and it had gained 16" and is now only down 8". As for my coop, the coop doors were wide open today, which is 2 double people doors giving an opening 7'x6' wide. Both windows were wide open, another 2'x3' each. Humidity outside was 85% to 98%, and inside the coop was 81% to 95%. Not sure how to get more ventilation - I can already drive a car into my coop door. The East Coast has been stuck in a very humid weather pattern for the past month, and I think that is the problem right now.
  6. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    @thomasboyle , seems like we all are having humdingers of a winter in various ways! Here is the reason I am interested, and this may help:


    Glad to see you are measuring...I noticed that when I opened the big clean-out door for the day in an effort to reduce humidity it did not make one BIT of difference.

    I did put in eave ventilation which is above chicken roosting head height (installed this summer). Everyone's situation is different! Variables besides local weather include size of coop x number of chickens x amount of ventilation. Your Chickens May Vary (YCMV).

    Here I was interested because I didn't want partially frozen chickens, and I needed to know how to tweak the ventilation, as well as if and when tweaking would help...glad I did this because it turns out even when very cold, the humidity is high. Where I live, anyway.

    OP, I hope this might help you too!

    @aart would probably say: Go out and cut more holes in your coop!

    If you wanted more help on this and posted pics of coop and vents maybe we could help?
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Actually, I would more likely say the bolded italics ;-)
    1 person likes this.
  8. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    Here's my coop. Let's cut away! Today I had both front doors open as well as both windows on the E and W sides.

    This is the south side

    North side on the right, east side on the left with the window. Today the window was open all the way. The 2nd story is fully separated from the 1st story except for a 2'x2' access hatch which is kept closed.

    As of 9pm, it is 29 out, humidity is 89%. Inside of the coop is 35 with 83% humidity. I closed the front doors at 8pm tonight. Both windows are open 25% right now. I gauge the moisture in the coop by the non-working windows in the front doors. If they frost up on the inside, too much moisture. If they are frost free (or condensation free) I am good. The coop is 2x4 construction with standard fiberglass insulation. Floor is concrete and ceiling is 2x6 rafters with insulation.

    BREKEN Out Of The Brooder

    May 31, 2016
    I really love your coop very nice! I am also having a moisture issue but just keep adding straw daily for fresh bedding.
  10. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    It's a very nice looking coop, but you rely on doors and windows for ventilation, and there is no roof overhang to help keep rain out of cut in venting. Ventilation needs to be permanent, and never closed up. Can you open up that side with the run attached?

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