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Discussion in 'Emergencies, Illness, Meds & Cures' started by packard82uk, Oct 21, 2012.
lets talk about what we can do to keep chickens in good health over the winter months
I'd like to hear what all us chicken people have to say too! Jen
A little scratch is a good thing, as the corn is converted to sugar in the body, which will put a little extra fat on them to help keep them warm. Not so good in warm weather, but ok in the cold. Warm oatmeal is a good treat in the mornings. Just make sure they have unfrozen clean water, and a clean, warm, dry coop out of the wind. A light bulb over the roosts will help keep them warmer. Vaseline rubbed on the combs and wattles will help prevent frostbite. The area of the country that I live in doesn't get cold, so very cold advice you will need from others!! I know that I have forgotten alot.
All my waterers are heated. There is one heat lamp on now that the night time temps are below freezing. I usually put another one in when the daylight temp stays cold. I can always add more if need be. The coop is clean with fresh shavings on the floor and fresh hay in the nest boxes. Everyone's health is good so no need to add supplements. I do provide free access oyster shells and as much green veggie stuff as my garden and kitchen can produce. Water and crumbles are available at all times. Their outside pen is covered and blocked on the wind sides. We are all set for the snow!
What temps should I put on the vaseline? Jen
That is a good question. I was wondering that as well. I have heard conflicting info on the effectiveness of putting Vaseline on the combs and wattles. I figure it won't hurt them and it gives me some time holding them. I got most as adults and they aren't big cuddlers.
Apply room temperature petroleum products to combs and wattles when there is a danger of frostbite. Windy, freezing, wet conditions make for frostbite. So if your bird is exposed to frostbite conditions, a thin layer of petroleum non-mentholated gel will protect the birds fleshy areas from dehydration and frostbite.
I have put it on my girls and I noticed how dry their combs were. It is going to be a long winter, so cold early this year.
Good to hear this. I see that my girls have gone from roosting on the roosts at night to roosting in their laying nest boxes. I am thinking they are doing this because they are cold on the roosts. Does that sound like what's going on? I was also wondering, do I need to put hay all over the ground in the coop during the winter or are chickens ok au naturale as they were during the warm weather?
Hi Pat. My name is also Pat. Pleased to meetcha. If your girls have gone from open roosting to nest box roosting, you should check for drafts. Are your hens trying to escape the cold breeze or just the cold? I prefer a thick bed of shavings on the coop floor as they're less likely to eat it, and fresh hay in the nest boxes. Loose hay doesn't have much insulation factor so I tend to overstuff the boxes. The hens nestle in pretty well.
I think they may be trying to get away from the cold. The roosting bars are near the opening to their roosting and nesting area. The nests are further away. The whole coop is only 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. The upstairs area, where they roost and nest (lay eggs) is probably 4 x 2 1/2 feet. I found a place where we can pick up free sawdust. Is that a good insulator? I usually use the shaving bales I can buy at the feed store and I do use hay in the nesting boxes. Do I need anything on the dirt floor inside the coop or out where they range during the day when it's cold?
You could save some money by putting sawdust, the deeper the better, on your dirt floor in the coop. Watch the hens though, they may start eating it, in which case shavings would be the way to go. Maybe a layer of shavings over a layer of sawdust? To clean then you'd go only down to the sawdust and only replace soiled shavings. More cost effective. Which way does your coop face? Does it get winter sun? A south facing window brings in a lot of passive solar heat. if the birds can stay clean and dry, or get clean and dry after being outside, they do well. Chickens don't care for snow much, mine will refuse to step outside if it's not shoveled for them. Since mine are out all day long, if they get caught in a rain, they need a place to dry so I have a red heat lamp over an area where they can dry out if need be. If yours are inside birds, a incandescent light would be enough for heat. Use a yellow one so you can keep it on at night without keeping them awake. Chickens, like most critters, can stay out in freezing temps, as long as they are out of the wind and dry. Below zero fahrenheit they will need an artificial heat source to avoid dehydration, shivering, and hypothermia. Hope this helps!