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Author Topic: Cool Chickens  (Read 2595 times)
Jerrymac
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« on: December 16, 2008, 10:06:49 AM »

I have wondered what you folks up north do for chickens in the cold winter.

It has been down as low as 12F here the past couple of nights. The heat light I have in there doesn't seem to be doing much for them. I was a little leery putting a space heater out there.... so I didn't.

Also.... I noticed as they were bedding down last night a drop of blood on one of the rooster's comb. I didn't see any cuts or gashes. Then this morning there was blood on the feeder where he was feeding and his comb was rubbing on it. His comb now appears to have several points of his comb bleeding. Could this be caused by frostbite?
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2008, 10:14:59 AM »

Oh Jerry, I hope you get some good answers here.  I have wondered the same thing.  You know that I don't live in that really, really cold climate, we only get freezing a couple of times in the winter.  BUT.....my big white rooster did get frost bite last winter.  His comb turned black on the tips, but it grew back to regular red after a couple of months.  The bleeding has me a little worrried for you.

I want to hear some answers here too.  I would love to know if there is something you should do to try to keep them warmer?  Wait....answers will come.  Have a great and wonderful day, health.  Cindi
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 10:18:38 AM »

There was no turning black. It was the regular red.
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2008, 11:09:43 AM »

Depending on the breed, they can be pretty hardy.  Mine just have protection from the wind and weather and do fine.   You can rub vasoline on their comb if you want to help prevent frost bite.   The biggest challenge is keeping thawed water if you don't have power in your coop.   Also a couple handfuls of corn before they roost gives them some extra to keep warm.

I usually don't worry about giving them a heat lamp until it gets below zero for extended periods,  and even then, just a few will use it.
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reinbeau
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2008, 11:50:36 AM »

No heat in the coop here, we just keep them from drafts.  You can rub Vaseline on the combs, that gives them some protection, especially for your birds who haven't acclimated to the cold the way ours do up here.  Frostbite is a problem for the large combs, and if your coop is too tight the moisture will build up inside and can settle on the combs, bringing it on.
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2008, 01:18:11 PM »

We've tried numerous things to try and keep the birds warm, but they all have their own ideas of what's "perfect". We've insulated, provided heat, and done nothing with little difference. Some birds still choose to roost in the trees rather than go into the sheds. We've never lost a bird in the winter.

Your rooster probably got a touch of frostbite on his comb, no harm. As was stated, a touch of vaseline will help if you're worried. Sometimes you have to keep and eye out to make sure that the other chickens don't pick at the blood and possibly isolate.

J-
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2008, 05:59:20 PM »

I have wondered what you folks up north do for chickens in the cold winter.

It has been down as low as 12F here the past couple of nights. The heat light I have in there doesn't seem to be doing much for them. I was a little leery putting a space heater out there.... so I didn't.

Also.... I noticed as they were bedding down last night a drop of blood on one of the rooster's comb. I didn't see any cuts or gashes. Then this morning there was blood on the feeder where he was feeding and his comb was rubbing on it. His comb now appears to have several points of his comb bleeding. Could this be caused by frostbite?

The most I've ever down is put in a light timer to extend dayligght for more egg production during the shorter days of winter. 
Space heaters, especially gas or kerosine, can kill the birds from fumes or crowding too close to the heat source.  Best to stay away from those.
Blood on the comb, in winter, is a sign of frostbite.  The blood indicates minor cases, black spots are areas of dead flesh that need treadtment. 
I you have other livestock and have bag balm or some other salve on hand, put some on the comb.  That will allow the comb to heal while protecting it from the cold to some degree.
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 01:34:17 PM »

I don't do anything other than give them a nice dry and draft free coop.
No heaters or heatlamps here.
I serve them some hotmash with cracked corn on those bitter mornings and sometimes in late afternoon before they head into the coops at night.
They do look forward to the hot mash in the mornings now though and follow me all the way to the house if I don't have it out already when I let them out of the coop.
In case you are wondering, the hot mash is just a mixture of layer crumbles, scratch and cracked corn and if I have oatmeal or anything else laying around and I pour very hot water over it and mix it up.
They love that stuff, it fills their bellies on a cold morning and they are very contented little hens.
That is the only accomodations I give them for the cold.
I let mine out every morning to free range and I leave the coop doors open for them to go in if they want.
I never see anyone go in there unless its to lay an egg and then they come right back out.
They don't seem bothered by any of it and love to run around in the snow.
I have heard that if you start giving them artificial heat it hinders them building up their own resistance to the cold.
 If thats the case and you ever have a power outage your chickens may not be able to cope with the cold as they would have if they gradually built a resistance to it.
Now don't take that as gospel, its just what I have heard and it does seem to make alot of sense.
 Its just like when us New Englanders go on vacation to a warmer climate in the winter we are all wearing shorts and the locals are wearing coats.
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danno
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 01:57:33 PM »

I dont do anything up here in Michigan either.  I have a heater for the water and all the food they want plus a bag of kitchen scapes every day.  I dont keep roosters anymore so I dont have to deal with frostbite combs.  Mine are locked up out of the wind every night but free range in all the days that the temps are above 15 without alot of wind.  They hate snow so they just hang out in my tractor shed most day.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 07:38:09 PM »

Quote
I serve them some hotmash with cracked corn on those bitter mornings and sometimes in late afternoon before they head into the coops at night.
They do look forward to the hot mash in the mornings now though and follow me all the way to the house if I don't have it out already when I let them out of the coop.

Hot mash and sqeezed corn, I guess liquored up chickens would be a little looser and lay better.  LOL
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Natalie
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 07:44:38 PM »

You betcha!! I have no complaints, they are laying very well right now, in fact Brian they just walk around the yard dropping them as they go. Wink
Hey wouldn't you be more accomodating and content with a belly full of hot food on those cold days.
I bet you like your oatmeal on those cold mornings, hey maybe even with a little cracked corn on top grin
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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 10:49:33 PM »

Oooh, Natalie, such a wonderfully good idea.  Tonight it is 7:45, the chicken yard crew has long gone to bed.  But tomorrow morning, they are going to be in for a delight.  It is blistering cold here, so unusual for our weather, we have massive snow that has fallen, about 8 inches, and the snowdrops are very small, meaning very cold.  They are calling for more snow, a blizzard they are saying, what the blazes ever that is.  The wind is bad, I saw on the weather that the windchill factor is -20 C (that be -4 F), really cold for here.  Our house weather station indicates that is is currently -5 C (23 F), we are not used this cold, it is fricking freezin'!!!!.

Tomorrow I will let the barnyard critters out, give them a little bread that I throw for them, and then  I will concoct a nice warm cup of hot coffee (hee, hee, that be, grower crumbles, corn, scratch), with a little oatmeal thrown in, just for a warm up.  I know that they will love me.  They love me anyways, this will just make them adore me a little more, hee, hee, smiling that secret smile.  Have a wonderful, most awesome life, day, health, greatest of all again.....health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2008, 11:24:59 PM »

Oh Cindi, they sure will love you. Once they get use to eating that they expect it when its cold out, spoiled brats.Sometimes anything new takes them a couple of times to get use to, but after that forget it.
The other things my spoiled chicks love is cheese, if you throw torn up sliced cheese to them they go into a frenzy. I do it just to watch the madness.
They are spoiled and crazy little chickens.
They are so much fun though.
I have one little rhode island red that is smaller than all the others, just a little runt so I named her Little Red.
She is hysterical. I think she really thinks she is a dog.
I have 5 dogs and whenever I call them in from the yard she comes tearing in to catch up with them and runs in the house behind them.
I have to block her or she comes right in with them and goes right over to their dog bowls with them for a drink of water, thats always the first place they head to when they come in.
She is the funniest little thing, I have to chase her around the kitchen to shoo her out, which she won't do so I have to pick her up and carry her outside.
If anyone leaves the back door open she comes in and goes right into the pantry where the dog bowls are and hangs out there clucking around.
My husband just said to me the other day, I seriously think that little red thinks she is one of the dogs. He said, you got some weird chickens, but he was laughing. He humors my chicken thing, but its been growing on him alot. I think he really gets a kick out of them.
Man, I feel bad for you with that bitter cold and snow. We are expecting up to 8 inches friday they say and then some more on sunday but nothing like you are saying.
Now I know its going to be cold but don't you go and eat that hot mash tomorrow, I know you will be tempted, then who knows what kind of eggs you'll lay! Wink
Keep warm.. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2008, 09:55:35 AM »

Our house weather station indicates that is is currently -5 C (23 F), we are not used this cold, it is fricking freezin'!!!!.
If it gets much colder, I'd start thinking of getting out the winter coat tongue
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Cindi
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2008, 10:42:50 AM »

Nataliie, Little Red sounds like my Isabelle.  I can always tell when Isabelle is around, she is non-stop talk, and overly friendly too, my Husband loves her to death, and of course because she is so friendly, she gets spoiled by him.  He picks her up and takes her out of the chickenyard, feeds her extra scratch,lets her scratch around on the nice grass and yes, spoiled.  It is nice to have other chicken looker-afterers on our forum to talk about our chickens, we have a fair number of chicken-forum-friends.

Now, Rob, you stop teasing me!!!  You know ding dang darn well that I had to put on my winter coat around the beginning of October this year, smiling that smile.....have a wonderful and most awesome day, life, health, and all other things great and wonderful, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2008, 10:55:39 AM »

What a great idea about the mash! Natalie, YES on the cheese!  I too toss stuff out just to watch em grab & run! I have 3 hens that hang out & get into trouble together. I call em the 3 musketeers..they are always trying to sneak into the house! They all know where I keep the can of cracked corn in the barn & get into it if not watched. My Danish Leghorns have big combs but haven't seen any blood on em.  Could be like our hands, dry & crack in the cold?  I use MK extra emollient night cream cause that's what I have here, besides it smells good! Wink Light in early am, & pm to keep em laying as I sell the eggs that pay for their food! The ladies are not thrilled this am to go out into the snow, they don't like sudden changes of environment.  J
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2008, 04:29:33 PM »

Natalie, does your little Red try to bark too?  My turkeys first tried to imitate the chickens and hearing a hen turkey try to cluck, or cackle after laying an egg was halarious.  The before I butchered them they finally went to sounding like real turkeys. 
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2008, 05:42:59 PM »

She hasn't yet Brian but I seriously wouldn't be surprised if she did. Its the funniest thing to watch her antics, she tries to barge her way into the house with the crew of dogs.
That is too funny about the turkeys imitating the chickens, animals are funny creatures aren't they.
I have some cockerals that are just learning to crow and its pathetic really, those strained pitiful little crows or more of a croak that they first do.
I am only suppose to keep hens here no roosters, unless they prove to on the quiet side so I am waiting this one out to see who is going to stay and who is going to go.
My nieghbors complained a couple of months ago about the early morning wake up calls and I gave away my 4 roosters, then the group of black copper marans chicks I got turned out to be 4 pullets and 6 cockerals so I have to rehome some all over again.
They are such striking little guys too.
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