Winter Blast and Chicken Related Woes

Generally, chickens do pretty well in the winter. Our girls will take sunny and 20 degrees over humid and 95 degrees any day. But when it starts dipping down into the teens and lower, well, the pressure on the chicken rearers gets to be a tad greater.

A small sampling of recent and upcoming winter chicken rearing joys:

  • On the new chicken waterer warmer (and our love/hate relationship): Don’t get me wrong – I love that this thing holds a lot of water and stays unfrozen down to about the high single digits. It’s reliable so far, and it keeps me from having to check the water (and refill it) multiple times a day. However, every time I fill the damn thing – and I mean EVERY time – I end up dumping about three gallons of water on my shoes at least twice. Seriously, the last two times I filled it, it took me three tries. It’s a problem.
  • On single-degree mornings and frozen doors: Yesterday on the second attempt to fill the water (and second dumping of water on my shoes in 4-degree temperatures), I managed to dump the water all over the doorway to the coop. Can you guess what that means? The freaking door is now frozen freaking shut.
  • So… at some point today I get to unstick the door so I can gain easier access to the food, water, and (most importantly) the extension cord.
  • Why the extension cord? Tomorrow, we are going to see about 10 more inches of snow, followed by a deep freeze. We’re talking by (tell me why, I don’t like) Monday, our high is going to be -7 degrees, and our low -18 degrees. The extension cord will allow us to leave a light on for the girls in the coop all day and all night until the deep freeze breaks, keeping it just warm enough to be comfortable.

Will we have five chickens sleeping under a heat lamp in our garage before Monday is through? Quite possibly. If we do, there will be pictures, fear not.

20130121. Wind chills of -10 to -20 call for extreme measures.

Last year’s winter setup – I’ve busted out the paneling again to ward against biting winds and snowdrifts.


4 thoughts on “Winter Blast and Chicken Related Woes

  1. I hope you cope ok with the cold. It seems bizarre to read about such low temperatures when we have recently been losing chickens here in 46C heat during our summer. The coldest we get to hear is about 5C and the chickens are fine in that.

    • You know, our first summer with chickens, we lost three of our four girls in extreme heat (108 degrees F, so what… 42C?) within 24 hours of leaving on our first vacation post-chicken. It was completely heartbreaking! I think generally chickens can cope better with cold than heat, as long as they have a nice, draft-free, well-ventilated shelter, but this cold was something else.

      With a lot of worrying, a little coddling, and some extra measures, though, they all made it through just fine! It was snowing again a bit ago, but it’s supposed to get well above freezing this weekend. Thank goodness! I’ll take swampy, soupy, wet backyard over frozen chickens anyday.

  2. I guess the good thing about cold is less spread of disease through insects like mosquitoes and less viral and bacterial infections. Summertime is when we have to deal with fowl pox.

    Do you have problems with frostbite in these temperatures?

    • You know, last year we had some frostbite issues with Boo, our leghorn. She’s the only one of our birds that’s more a Mediterranean breed, so she does the best in the summer and worst in the winter (and has a giant comb, just waiting to get frosty). We read somewhere that you can apply Vaseline to the comb on really cold/windy days to help protect it – which might have helped, but it also led to Boo getting the Vaseline all over her back from preening, which in turn attracted tons of dirt to her feathers. Poor girl looked awful by springtime!

      This year, she seems to be doing just fine without the Vaseline. 🙂

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