What's worse: Cold or Condensation?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by calliope, Nov 23, 2007.

  1. calliope

    calliope Out Of The Brooder

    Hi,

    We live in a cold winter area, with night temps dropping anywhere from -10 Celcius to -20 Celcius (about 15 to zero Farenheit, sometimes colder.) We have a well-insulated chicken house with a 1-foot square vent near the top center of one wall, and in the summer I leave the door open a bit, so there is no condensation. But now I have a heat lamp on for them at night, 150 watts, and if I shut the door tight, the vent can't keep up with the humidity, so in the morning there is condensation running down the door and the plastic over the 2 small windows. So, I was wondering if it would be better to add more ventilation, which will probably mean the temperature will drop below freezing in there. What's worse? Cold or condensation?

    Thanks so much for any comments,

    Linda [​IMG]

    PS I have mostly Rhode Island Reds, a couple of Silkies, 2 English game hens, 2 Guinea fowl, a bantam frizzle and a standard size Cochin, all between 4 to 10 months of age.
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I say condensation is worse than cold. Chickens are cold hardy with enough food, but dampness will cause respiratory problems. I say up the ventilation. It's 25 deg F outside right now and everybody is sleeping outside by choice. [​IMG]
     
  3. kstaven

    kstaven Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    BC, Washington Border
    Condensation is far worse than the cold. The extra humidity will rob an animal of body heat much faster than cold dry air will. Fungus and mold are the next issue you will encounter.
     
  4. calliope

    calliope Out Of The Brooder

    [​IMG] Thanks so much, silkiechicken and kstaven, for your quick replies! I am going out there right now and crack open the door for them. They do love to be outside and spend most of the day in their outside run, plus they have free range of our farm every afternoon, and it's been as cold as -10 degrees C. during the day so far. I guess I tend to worry too much! I really am attached to my critters!

    Where abouts in BC are you, kstaven? I am near Falkland.

    Thanks again. I'm glad I found this board -- it's a very valuable resource!
     
  5. kstaven

    kstaven Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    BC, Washington Border
    I'm just outside of Christina Lake where 395 crosses into Washington state.

    If they have a pop hole exit leave it open and take some strips of pond liner and hang them over the opening. It lets them come and go, breaks the wind, helps hold the heat in and allows air to flow from floor level to your upper vent. That will help clear the moisture.
     
  6. TxChiknRanchers

    TxChiknRanchers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Southeast Texas
    Good answers y'all . The only thing I can add is that you have to consider that the chickens create a lot of heat themselves, so as long as the wind is not blowing thru the coop they can stay pretty warm, or warm enough until it gets too cold.

    Randy
     
  7. calliope

    calliope Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks, everyone, and please excuse any dumb questions. My only experience raising chickens was as a kid on the family farm in a much milder climate, so I want to provide the best for my girls in this colder climate!

    Randy, how cold is "too cold"? [​IMG]

    Also, kstaven, just wondering re the pond liner -- can you just buy a piece of it at a hardware store or something? I've just had a pre-formed pond liner, so I think you mean like a heavy, rubbery kind of plastic, which sounds like a great idea and I'd like to try it out. BTW, I just love the beautiful area that you live in!

    Linda [​IMG]
     
  8. AK-Bird-brain

    AK-Bird-brain I gots Duckies!

    May 7, 2007
    Sterling, Alaska
    If you only have one vent you might consider adding a second vent up high on the other side of your coup. we did this and our moisture problem cleared right up.
    Our girls say -20F is to cold they go outside on their own down to -15F but at -20 they stay inside so we keep their chicken door closed.
    We have temperature sensors outside and in our coup, our coup temp stays about 15-20 degrees warmer than outside when the girls are huddled up rousting for the night.
     
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    When it dips into the mid teens, some of my youngest and oldest birds go inside to sleep. So I would summize things below single digits are on the edge of too cold.
     
  10. TxChiknRanchers

    TxChiknRanchers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Southeast Texas
    Quote:Well too cold would be so cold that your chickens get frostbitten on the extremities. Here it seldom gets below freezing, but there are folks here that live in Pa. that do not heat, and it has been said in several threads on coop heat, you may find some of those in the search function. Oh yea might check with Hinkjc about heat, Jody might have some additional info for you. Hope I have helped some. Sorry if my statement before was not.

    Randy
     

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