I haven't posted in awhile, but since I ended up with frostbit chickens Friday night I thought I'd let you know what I found out. We left for a robotics tournament at 5:30 AM yesterday (too early to see the chickens they were asleep) and did not get back until 5:30 PM. Got out of the car and my 10 yo daughter started crying b/c she could see the blackened combs. Both Thurs. and Friday night it went down to 17 or 18 here. Vaseline did not help. I did a bunch or research last night and vaseline will help protect them from moisture freezing on their combs and wattles and causing frostbite, but it does not actually protect them from them cold. When they get cold their body redirects some of the circulation from the combs and wattles to help conserve energy. The chicken that was the worst was her royal highness Queen Elizabeth. She wants a whole roost to herself and therefore was not getting the advantage of the warm snuggle. Granted, winter majorly snuck up on us. We have had so much go wrong in the past few months that our temporary little tikes playhouse coop is still what they use. The winter coop is not done yet. So obviously a good coop is very important in the keeping warm process. I brought them inside last night and probably for the next few nights unless we can figure something else out. That was fun. At least they stayed warm enough last night to be laying today!
My medium comb Legbar dig great in the cold. She has not a hint of frostbite, but I think that is b/c her best friend, a Buff Orpington literally sleeps on top of her and keeps her warm. The Buff has a tiny comb and one tip is black.
I put vaseline on them last night and this morning, hoping to help heal as well as protect from the water they get on their wattles, but from all I have read I can't expect it to protect from the cold. Hope that helps and your chickens stay pretty!
At what temp do you start to apply Vaseline to the combs/wattles & how often? I put some on my roo Tues night. Do hens with medium sized combs need Vaseline? (I did it last year only on the coldest nights.)
Tank (below) has big everything. I want him to stay pretty.
Here's what I mean by medium combs....