Author Topic: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)  (Read 1132 times)

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Offline BigHat

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chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« on: October 31, 2012, 12:09:26 PM »
a question for the wise ones living the life...

right now i'm raising 4 chickens, and my wife is worried about frost bitten toes. the ground in their fenced in area is getting a little sloppy from rain with no grass and constant pecking. and now it's getting cold...

anything we can do (without moving the coop itself) to help fix the ground? or is there another way to prevent chicken toe frostbite?
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Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 12:15:53 PM »
We would bust up straw bales for the floor/ground in the winter time for the feet to stay dry.  They scratch at it quite a bit to keep it fluffed so the insulation factor was there.      We also hung a heat lamp with a 60 watt bulb under the 2x4 they roosted on.  THe heat rose and kept the board warm.     I've seen where someone else stapled the older style Christmas lights to the bottom of the roosting board for that extra warmth. 

If you cannot get straw bales, big farm stores sell big bulky bags of wood chips that would work too.   When hubby was doing alot of wood work , we'd save the shavings from the planer and would dump that the the floor of the chicken coop too.     

I hope some of this helps ya.     In our case it was the roosters combs that would freeze.   

WW.
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 12:26:11 PM »
a question for the wise ones living the life...

right now i'm raising 4 chickens, and my wife is worried about frost bitten toes. the ground in their fenced in area is getting a little sloppy from rain with no grass and constant pecking. and now it's getting cold...

anything we can do (without moving the coop itself) to help fix the ground? or is there another way to prevent chicken toe frostbite?
I'm assuming you have a coop for them, and are only worried about the yard? Don't worry. If the chickens have shelter (coop) they will come inside if it gets too uncomfortable outside.
I have kept a dozen birds here in Montana for just over 12 years. The only bird that ever suffered from the cold was a turkin (naked-neck chicken), and I think it's brain froze.  :P That was when we had -30oF for 5 days straight. My chickens have access to their yard 365 days a year, rain, snow or sleet.  Haven't had a frost-bit toe yet.
Chickens are a lot tougher than we give them credit for.
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Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 12:44:39 PM »
Geeze OP... couldnt you have crocheted a lil hat and scarf for the Turken?    Pooor thing.......     *giggle*

Another thing I wanted to mention..  chickens know to sit down on top of their feet to warm them up.  When we had a huge run for our chickens and the snow eventually hardened up , I"d see the hens sitting out there on the snow.  I panicked of course..but found out they were just warming up their feet for a few mins while they sat out in the sun. 

Wet floors/mud are a little bit more serious on feet.    Try a few strawbales or even rake up a pile of pine needles and dump them in there.   It will keep the birds busy scritchin all that around.  :)

WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 01:12:38 PM »
Yeah, their feet need to dry out just like ours to prevent fungus. But just going inside to roost, or at least getting up on roost outside serves the purpose. You know that homesteaders with 25-100 birds don't baby them, even in the winter. Check out my thread on "winter water" for the birds.
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Offline Wilderbeast

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 04:01:50 PM »
I've lost chickens to predators and to disease. I haven't lost one to the cold.  I stopped heating their coop a couple of winters ago and saw no change in how they faired.

If little chicadees and sparrows can winter over in the wild fending for themselves, chickens can do so easily with provided food, water and shelter.

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Offline wolfy

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2012, 04:46:16 PM »
We never had any frozen chicken fingers, but some did lose their combs to extreme cold :fire2:
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Offline Bearhunter

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chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2012, 04:54:31 PM »
We never had any frozen chicken fingers, but some did lose their combs to extreme cold :fire2:
That's why we have always raised Wyandotte's up here. They have a 'rose comb'. We've never had a problem with frostbite with them.
Plus their large body size works well with the extreme temps we can have here.
Most folks don't know, but for lots of chicken breeds, extreme heat is much more stressful than extreme cold.
For some however, it's right the opposite.
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Offline Gryphon

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 08:10:52 PM »
We would have a good tight coop with plenty of straw inside and straw and pine needle duff from the woods around us and we never had a problem in NW Montana winters.  Chickens are tough little birds.  They'll huddle together too.

I'd do straw or hay on the mud even if just to keep your feet cleaner when harvesting eggs.
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Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 08:42:21 PM »
Just a quick de-rail again...

Bearhunter, what do you think of that breed , Wyandottes?    Are they pretty hardy?  Are they good setters?   Easy on feed?   And brown egg or white?   How about for a meat chicken?   With just the two of us I usually try to pick the smallest whole chicken at the store...would this breed fit that bill too?

I'd like to get back into chickens, but just a handful of them.   I have this movable chicken tractor that I'd like to get built and have them up closer to the house in the winter time and then moved twards the garden in spring. 

And I have three incubators I'd use to get meat birds hatched next spring if these birds are good for that.

Thanks. 

WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline BigHat

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2012, 09:34:02 PM »
thanks for the tips guys, those were the things me and my wife had talked about. basically just throwing some pine needles around in the yard area, to keep them from scratching around in too much mud. she keeps the coop itself nice and clean (as clean as you can with chickens ting everywhere, ALL the time.)

they do have a coop with roosts inside of it, and it stays dry in there. plus it shouldn't rain too much more now that winter's here...
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Offline Bearhunter

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chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2012, 09:48:18 PM »
Just a quick de-rail again...

Bearhunter, what do you think of that breed , Wyandottes?    Are they pretty hardy?  Are they good setters?   Easy on feed?   And brown egg or white?   How about for a meat chicken?   With just the two of us I usually try to pick the smallest whole chicken at the store...would this breed fit that bill too?

I'd like to get back into chickens, but just a handful of them.   I have this movable chicken tractor that I'd like to get built and have them up closer to the house in the winter time and then moved twards the garden in spring. 

And I have three incubators I'd use to get meat birds hatched next spring if these birds are good for that.

Thanks. 

WW.
WW...
Wyandottes are wonderful duel purpose birds. We have raised them for years. They are good foragers and pretty much take care if themselves in the spring, summer and early fall.
They are a fairly good sized bird... Especially the roosters. 
They lay a medium to large light brown egg and are wonderful layers. We've had a few go broody over the years, but we never had any success with hatching until this summer.
They are a pretty quite bird as well.
And they are very cold hardy!
We absolutely love them :)

Btw: we raise the golden laced wyandottes.

http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/Wyandotte-B6.aspx
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2012, 10:38:47 PM »
The cold-hardy breeds that we raise are Brahman, Australorp (both brown eggs), and Ameraucana (blue eggs). Never had frozen combs even at 30 below zero. They always had a dry house, out of the wind. Our two oldest Brahman are 6 years old and still laying. I believe the world record egg layer was an Australorp that laid one egg a day for over a year.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 09:09:07 AM by Old Philosopher »
"In a modern survival scenario you are trying to get out alive, its short term. Obtaining rescue is the main intention. In a primitive living scenario, you are already home, living off the land. There is no rescue." - Cody Lundin

Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2012, 12:56:40 AM »
I've always had a mix of chickens, and this time I'd like to stick with just one breed.      Thanks for the link , Bearhunter.   I found my dream chicken coop there too..... ONLY 550.00 delivered to my driveway.  ha ha ha ha ... like that will happen.

Blue eggs sound like fun too...

And then I started wandering around looking for pheasants and my other dream bird is the Midget Turkey.. I wish I had a set up for raising those too.   

WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: chickens in cold weather (and other chicken raising tips...)
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2012, 09:10:39 AM »
...
Blue eggs sound like fun too...

.....
The Easter Eggers are fun, too. You never know what colored egg you're gonna get.
"In a modern survival scenario you are trying to get out alive, its short term. Obtaining rescue is the main intention. In a primitive living scenario, you are already home, living off the land. There is no rescue." - Cody Lundin