Condensation in coops.

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Marigold
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by Marigold » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:00 pm

chrismahon wrote:I checked the new coop for condensation this morning as it was a worst case scenario. Very damp (95% humidity), wet chickens, vents fully closed overnight.
why did you close all the vents, Chris? This is just what you'd expect to happen if you slept in a bedroom with the windows closed, ie windows running with condensation in the morning, isn't it? Just the laws of physics, water has to condense somewhere once high humidity is reached, nothing particularly to do with the design of the coop or the paint.
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chrismahon
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by chrismahon » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:22 pm

Because the poor little birdies were cold and wet Marigold (and it was an experement). Will only close the windward vent tonight. As you quite rightly say the condensation has to form somewhere, especially with high humidity anyway, which is unusual when its cold, hence the black ice on the roads.

The conditions for condensation are so extreme at the moment we have, for the first time, got major condensation under the cover sheeting of the runs. It is so bad the water has run off at the centre and into one of the feeders!
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by pennyblack chooks » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:42 pm

THis is my first message on this forum, so Hi everyone! Have kept chooks for around 7-8 years now and have let them free range over the garden (not the veg patch..) and then sleep in a covered pen with branches as perches overnight. This worked well til we moved to very rural area where lots of people keep chooks and other birds and the rats began to burrow in underneath. Many slabs to cover the pen floor later they were still doing it and there was one place we could not cover.....I have tried killing them off strategically with difenicoum etc which worked but new ones appear within a few weeks and set up shop under the pen. Anyway, several other complications including an entirely unforeseen outbreak of scaley leg mite (now treated and gone) made me decide to change their HenQuarters and I have moved the girls and Herb into a green frog lodge complete with timer door. Herb and Edna are the last two to convert - they seem to prefer the wisteria the last couple of nights and need to be extracted - but otherwise going well and they can come out when the door auto opens in the morning to free range all day. They have always had woodash dry dustbathing access all year (now under a field shelter on the edge of the lawn) though they prefer the edge of the lawn itself where they have made craters on all but the wettest days :roll:

Today was the first time I wanted to clean the lodge - two nights in - and I found condensation on the roof, sides, front and back walls. I have it sheltered from the worst of the weather next to a high hedge which is gappy enough to still allow air flow. I dried the areas out and made sure all the vents are fully open. I have put a big sheet of plasticised sheeting on the floor in there to aid cleaning the floor area and so I can lift this out, empty the aubiose and poop into the compost, put in a dry sheet and cover that with more aubiose. This can now be done quickly and easily. I have sprinkled diatom everywhere too just for good measure!!!! I have never had red mite in the pen they slept in in all the time I have used it and I don''t fancy them now.

The sheltered pen worked so well for so long, until the scaley leg earlier this year I(I think caused by having to use so much straw to protect the chooks from the slabs and the cold when we had those weeks of bad weather in December and January etc because they didn't want to come out into the garden) and then the intensification of the rats. The pen was perfect for many reasons. I have not wanted to use a coop before. Had two eglus attached to the outide of the pen to use as nest boxes but not as sleeping quarters. it feels to me like a backward step to use a coop. Didn't fancy the cube though as really wanted something - in plastic - that also offered an auto door and timer facility.

Here's hoping. I am reassured though that the interior walls don't offer any oportunities for mould to get a foothold and so long as I keep the aubiose etc changed and empty out poop regularly, with the odd wipe out with a microporous cloth (like I use to dry my dogs when I take them swimming at the hydro pool) then my 8 chooks shouldn' t have a problem....

I hope you can reassure me that this will be the case???

Oh and have had my first ever case of bumblefoot this year - very mild and caught very early thankfully. Just off to re-vetwrap Belle's claw now.....

It's been a bit of year on the chicken front!

Regards

Pennyblack chooks
pennyblackchooks
....chooks with attitude - Maggie, Fliss, Belle, Pheobe, Fanny Ann, Tilly, Edna and their husband Herb
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by Chuck » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:35 am

I don't think anyone can give you any assurances that coop living will suit your hens. The plastic houses don't seem to have been tried that long and people seem to want to close vents and keep them warm believing that's what their hens need. You have discovered how hardy chickens can be in your previous set up and at this time I think all you can do is monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.
If you are willing to go that extra mile for your poultry - make sure you're going in the right direction !
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by Marigold » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:35 am

Hi Pennyblackchooks, and welcome to the Forum.
I agree with Chuck - you'll see from my previous posts in this thread that I feel it's important to give ENOUGH ventilation, rather than try to keep them warm, which they don't need. I haven't got an automatic pophole opener to my green frog house - I don't need one, because I don't shut the pophole! (although I have adjusted it so it's half way open, leaving enough room for the hens to get in and out, and I've sited the coop so the wind doesn't blow in directly into the pophole. And no condensation problems to report! This seems to compare with roosting in your covered pen, which was OK, wasn't it? I'm not sure why you feel they need the pophole closed if it causes problems.
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by pennyblack chooks » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:46 pm

Hi Chuck and Marigold

Meant to add that I didn't use aubiose the first two nights - as I had a bit left of a cheaper substitute (can't remember what, no label on the bag!) that i'd had to buy when I couldn't get aubiose last time that I'd used in the nest boxes of the eglus attached to the larger pen before we moved over to the Frog lodge. I was interested to see what another contributor had said about aubiose absorbent abilities as I was going to buy some more because it makes such good compost anyway.

Yesterday I cleaned them out 2 days in (which is when I found the condensation - hadn't really anticipated it so hadn't looked before as knew would clean them out after a couple of days anyway as soon as I'd got some more aubiose) and replaced all bedding with the aubiose. This morning no condensation.

Now that might also be because the ambient temp outside the coop was higher last night than the night before so there was less differential between inside coop and outside coop...who knows. Will monitor. Also have decided to poo pick each day and chuck in a couple more handfuls of aubiose each day (5 mins that took this morning so easily achievable before I go to work each day) and then do a full clean at weekends (15 mins tops). I guess this will help too in minimising condensation as the aubiose has the absorbing abilities. I am keeping the layer of aubiose only thick enough to be absorbent.

Yup I agree about the ventilation. All my chooks have lived in effect outside all year round for the 7-8 years I have kept them and have thrived on it. Sheltered by a hedge, with a cover over the roof and the odd omlet run cover stretched around the outside mesh of the 12ft by 9ft by 7 ft hight pen to provide roost areas (on branches wedged off the ground) that are sheltered from the wind and the rain, they have been happy to fluff themselves around their feet and hunker down along the branches. . I wanted to create the effect of sleeping in a tree with protection form the elements and any predators at night. it has been perfect.I have had no mite, no lice, no illnesses Until the rats and slabs and straw etcetc. Thye put themselves to bed after free ranging around the garden all day and I knew they had water and food in the pen first thing and they'd be let out to roam, until bed time.

I want to keep all the best aspects of this system that has worked so well, but lose the rats and the scaley leg issues that arose subsequently. But not replace those problems with other ones - red mite, potential condensation issues....

So went for the large lodge - raised on legs. And the system to keep it clean and DRY inside that I have begun. All the vents are wide open - yesterday i found one closed that I hadn't realised was. I have the pop hole closed because I have no run at all and it is their only protection at night from any rats that might investigate or anything else. So now, the chickens free range over almost all the garden all day unless they are asleep in the coop. And the door of that is on a timer so that they don't have to wait in there for me or my husband. I will adjust the timer as the days lengthen.

It means also that I can be out with my dogs after work in the afternoon and know that I don't have to rush back to shut the chooks in. At the moment I am because Edna is still adamant that she prefers the wisteria :roll: She's a funny chook.

We are lucky in that we don't see foxes in the garden - or haven't for the 4.5 years we have been living here - there's a lot of game here and that seems to give them something to eat more easily than venturing into gardens where there are dogs......We hear them in the mating season. But at night, without a run, the pop hole is my peace of mind. So far, so good.

We are considering of customising our 'frog coop with more ventilation, but I am pondering where to put some more small holes for maximum effect. My chickens are used to draughts coming through the pen so that isn't a problem . They just like to be out of the rain really and ice. They relish the free circulating air and need it. I want to try to keep that differential between outside temp and inside coop temp as minimal as possible.

Here's hoping.

One side effect of the coop for my lot I noticed the first couple of days is the intense darkness inside means they wake up later...I had to give Herb the cockerel a wake up call!!! He and the girls were still asleep at 8.30. The door had been open an hour. Outrageous :-)10 They have been sleeping by moon and starlight and been woken up slowly by the gradual daylight before. They were really quite puzzled about the time of day. Bless.
pennyblackchooks
....chooks with attitude - Maggie, Fliss, Belle, Pheobe, Fanny Ann, Tilly, Edna and their husband Herb
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by dinosaw » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:40 pm

Hi Pennyblack, I would drill any holes at the same level as the existing vents so that the air circulates above the birds heads and combines with the existing vents to produce a through draft. What do you think of the green frog automatic door?, I could do with a bit more of a lie in next summer.
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by chrismahon » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:04 am

Your chickens seem a very happy lot Pennyblackchooks. You are so lucky you have no foxes. We only get them at night, so we are lucky also. I'd hold off on the extra holes until you have estabished the effect of Aubiose though. But I agree with the placing of them as Dinosaw says, so you get a through flow. If you add holes across the flow you may interrupt it and have the opposite effect. You probably need a very sharp hole saw to drill through the plastic -running slow so it doesn't melt it.
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by Marigold » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:54 am

Lucky chooks - yours sound as if they have a lovely home.
A good thing about the Frogs is the gap all along the long sides between the sides and the roof, since the roof is supported by the curved end panels and this leaves ventilation all along the sides. Maybe you could drill holes at the top of the back panel, on the same level as the vents, if you wanted more? It would be best to use a hole-cutter attachment to the drill then you could get decent-sized holes.
Would it perhaps be possible to create a small run area around the coop, not large enough for them all the time, but so you could shut them in there when needed, and then leave the pophole open at night in the knowledge that they were safe and could come out in their own time for breakfast? ( A bit like those attached runs that are often sold with coops to people whoi think that will be all their chickens need by way of space!)
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Re: Condensation in coops.

Post by pennyblack chooks » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:01 pm

Hi there again

Yes Marigold I had noticed that there are gaps under the roof on the sides - very handy aren't they! I think that's a good idea about holes on the back panel too though. Will get OH to put drill into action on it.

Thanks to you all for the advice about the best place for them - high up on line with the side vents. Brilliant.

Get what you say about the aubiose though chris. Thanks.

Dinosaw - the auto door is great. Though you need to You can have a sensor (didn't work as we have naughty stop outs who like going to bed after dark!!) so we bought the timer arrangement and you can set that for whatever you like that suits your chooks. It means we can go out for a day, afternoon or evening when it is still light at any time of year and come back long after their bed time and know that they will be safely shut away once they have gone to roost.

It also means Herb's crowing is muffled in the coop and (because it is so dark in there and sheltered from the morning sun by the hedge which will thicken up with leaf in the Spring) he will start later anyway and so our neighbours don't have to be disturbed until 7am (when we will set the timer as the mornings draw out)- even in summer. They are all great though we are lucky there too - a cockerel crowing IS a quintessential rural sound after all (though I know some people can be funny about it - why they live in the country is anyone's guess. Hey ho) but it is always nice to be courteous and not take advantage of their tolerance. They heard Bert our old brahma cockerel, who I had to let go in the summer, from the pen but that was further down near the bottom of the garden and he was quite quiet in the mornings anyway , this coop is further up the garden so the auto door and especially the timer are important for me for that reason (as well as all the other reasons that I have swapped everything around for)
If your chooks go to bed at dusk and can be up and about at first light all year round then so with the sensor. You can add the timer later if you decide you need to.

Marigold - I don't leave food out overnight now. That is what drew the rats into their overnight pen and I know it would do the same even in a small run. I put their pellets out when I go out in the morning. By then the chooks are already out and about (well they are now - they have the hang of it now I saw this morning :-)08 ) and because they forage for most of their food anyway they are already at it. The pellets are just back up to be honest and always available in the day time. A little corn sometimes in the afternoon helps! (and I do find they like sunflower hearts, cold porridge, curly kale leaves, courgette, squash. lettuce, tomatoes, probiotic yoghurt....... ;) to supplement the grass, bugs and worms they find too )

Thanks all :-)99
pennyblackchooks
....chooks with attitude - Maggie, Fliss, Belle, Pheobe, Fanny Ann, Tilly, Edna and their husband Herb
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