Anyone else having a hard time?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cmlew99, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chirping

    Apr 5, 2014
    This is my first winter with chickens. I got them in May, and it has been a blast. Each day I got my chicken therapy, and I loved every moment with them. But this winter has just been brutal. Its gotten to the point where I dread checking on them, because of all the things that might go wrong (because so many things already have gone wrong)(of course, I still check on them and take care of them).

    One of my hens got a respiratory illness that lasted about a month and only went away with oral Baytril. Now my rooster is having extreme frostbite issues, they are pecking each other.


    I don't know what to do, I feel like such a bad owner! I love them so much, and spend so much time worrying and researching and strategizing.

    Does anyone else feel frustrated with winter? Any tips on how to manage the flock in the cold weather?
  2. Puddin Fluff

    Puddin Fluff Crowing

    Mar 30, 2012
    River Valley, AR
    So sorry for your winter stress. I can't imagine with the snow that you guys have been getting what on earth I would do.
    Based on other things I have read, make sure your coop is well ventilated, give the chickens some treats that take them a while to eat(cabbage in a net, flock block, etc.) for entertainment when they don't want to go out in the weather, plenty of space per chicken (if you can expand).

    Good ventilation helps with frostbite, also wide roosts helps so that the chickens can cover their feet completely at night and I also know that people who live in sub-zero locations focus on breeds with small combs to help prevent frostbite.

    Like most of us, sometimes you learn the hard way. No one ever has a perfect chicken experience, I think that is why they call it an experience.

    Good luck! Just remember, days are getting longer.[​IMG]
  3. nab58

    nab58 Songster

    Mar 28, 2013
    Yeah, winter is getting old. Just take one day at a time and before you know it will be March and the worst will be over.
  4. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Crowing

    Apr 5, 2013
    Don't feel bad. It's a learning process and everyone here is here to help.

    Ventilation is key in helping frostbite. You want to make sure there isn't a lot of moisture (poop is a big culprit here), no drafts, and that it's well insulated. You can get a hygrometer to track humidity if you'd like. When that all doesn't seem enough I use bag balm to coat the combs, wattles, and legs. Some people use Vaseline, but I find this works better. It's in a little green metal container and it's pretty greasy, but it does the trick. Not only does it help keep the cold out, but it helps soothe what's already frostbitten. If it's black it's sure to fall off, but don't worry as long as it doesn't get infected they will be just fine.

    As for the pecking. Its probably the winter boredom blues for them. You can add some snack such as tying up a cabbage head or a scratch block. How much room do they have? Do they stay in the coop or have a run or even free range?

    Its normal to feel frustrated in winter. It's a very frustrating season! But you will pull through, they will pull through, and you're doing a great job. Keep your head up and soon spring will be here.
  5. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    Heads of cabbage are a good treat, keeps 'em busy for a while. We just got a foot of snow dumped on us yesterday with huge drifts in the yard. Luckily we have a tractor with a bucket. We cleared a huge section between the coop and the back porch. the chickens were having a grand time outside at 17* We threw scratch and BOSS all over the place and they were tearing at the grass in a few places where the bucket had scraped right down to the ground. They didn't mind walking on the packed snow and jumping or flying over the clumps the tractor missed. You can accomplish a similar but maybe not quite as big an area with your regular driveway snow thrower. I also give treats like yogurt or scrambled eggs in big slow feeder bowls so everyone can gather 'round and get their fair share. [​IMG]
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Sounds to me like you are having ventilation and space issues. Open up your coop to get some air moving, and maybe your chickens will decide to go outside and get some space.
  7. keesmom

    keesmom Crowing

    Jul 28, 2008
    You could make a homemade flock block to keep them busy. I may do that soon since I can't clear some pens. I am also in MA, and still trying to shovel essential paths. Snowblower is dead so we are left shoveling it all.
  8. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chirping

    Apr 5, 2014
    Okay, so it sounds like I'll be opening up some more windows! Thank you everyone for the comfort and motivation!!

    @Puddin Fluff Thank you, especially for saying that thing about perfect experiences- that is something I need to remember! Its hard to realize when I see all these magazines and blogs full of sunny, happy birds and happy owners.

    @nab58 True, I'll try to remember that! I need the mild spring weather so badly for my mental health!

    @BayBay Peepers It is incredibly comforting to hear that people are here for me! Thanks! I've been using bag balm for a little while now, I think its doing the trick.. My run is about six by seven feet (or 42 square feet) and there are four chickens. The coop floor is 3 1/2 feet by six feet, and there is an upper platform that is 3 1/2 feet by 3 feet that they can fly up onto. Thank you for your motivating words!

    @justplainbatty Thanks! A head of cabbage is a great idea, I'll get one at the store next time I'm there!

    @bobbi-j I'll definitely try that, thanks!
  9. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Songster

    Oct 29, 2012
    Tyro-Lexington, NC
    If you can, double your run. That will help. The "standard" measurements have always ran a little small in my opinion. Sometimes, the chickens just need some wing space so that they can have some alone time.

    As for other things that can keep the chickens entertained, try a chicken swing or heads of lettuce (mine hate cabbage but will eat the lettuce instead) or tossing out some corn cobs. Take a different treat out every other day or so to keep them guessing just what you'll bring.
  10. Adeth Chicken

    Adeth Chicken Chirping

    Jan 2, 2015
    Jacksonville Florida
    Yes! On top of it being miserable to be outside.. Our aracauna had coccidiosis when we first got her, then we had egg breaking, and then Canker.. Also one of our roosters had to stay in the bathroom for a few weeks, after being beat up by another. We are first time chicken people, a lot of it was a little disheartening, but we all pushed through.. And we are excited for spring. Having chickens is so wonderful, there are bound to be tough times.

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