Chickens in winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Citychicken12, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Citychicken12

    Citychicken12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 24, 2012
    Idaho
    How do you know your hens are okay outside? It has been in the single digits here and my hens choose to be outside every day. I noticed that one of my hens comb looked funny. She is a barred rock and has a huge comb. One of the "fingers" looked pale pink and a little on top looked black? She is still active and eating. I also picked her up and I could hear her breathing. Is this normal? I clean the coop almost every day, and there are ventilation openings all along the top of coop. There is also a side door that has a mesh screen. I was covering the opening with a cardboard cutout but it fell off,so I just covered it with a towel for a temporary fix? Is this okay. Need suggestions from all of the experienced people on here. Thanks
     
  2. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    She probably has a touch of frostbite. People have different ideas about what to do about frostbite. Some say to put vaseline on the comb, but others say this only makes it colder. It is painful, no doubt, but we have had quite a few roosters over the years who've had some frostbite, and although it is disfiguring (the comb will turn black, and the points will die and fall off it it's bad enough) , they will recover from it uneventfully. In these types of temperatures, it is very difficult to do anything about it that works well, especiallly with the birds with the big combs. Maybe someone else has an idea you could try. In our case, most of our birds are not easy to catch, which makes matters worse, and sometimes the birds (especially roosters) cant get their whole head under their wing when they roost, or they don't put their head under the wing at all, so of course their combs are exposed to the coldest temperatures overnight. If you search "frostbite" on here, you will find tons of posts about this problem. Trying to heat the coop, or the area where they roost, is not a good solution either. If you can, insulating the area where they roost will help some, and covering the screened areas with a towel overnight would probably be ok.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  3. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Oh, and to hear her breathing, yes, is normal.
     
  4. Citychicken12

    Citychicken12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 24, 2012
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    Well normally I can't really hear them breathing. It seemed heavier and louder to me.
     
  5. Citychicken12

    Citychicken12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 24, 2012
    Idaho
    I don't want to put a light out there because I have heard that it is not good for them. I can catch mine, but didn't know why she was the only one affected. The ventilation goes all the way across the top of the coop on both sides. That being said, it is obviously above their roost. People have said that is bad? Is this true?
     
  6. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    I don't know if your ventilation is bad, I've seen lots of different coops and it's hard to visualize what you have, but chickens are adaptable and I wouldn't worry about that too much. don't use a heat light overnight, they don't really need it and it is a fire hazard. Idk, just kind of keep an eye on her if you are worried about the breathing. I sometimes hear them breathing when I catch ours (and we do have some tame ones) and sometimes not. She might have been breathing harder just because it's really cold out. Some of ours suffer from frostbite, and some don't, so like I said, it's really a matter of how they position themselves when they sleep, and probably there are other physical factors involved. If I were you I'd just casually observe her for a few days if you are still worried (don't stare or fuss over her, they conceal symptoms of illness anyway and they definitely will if you do that)...and try to keep the coop as sheltered as you can at night, til it warms up again. When it's bitter cold like it has been, we do leave a couple of heatlights on for our flock during the day, so they have a little heat if they need it...but we always turn the heat lights off when we go to bed. Our barn where they roost is not very insulated, either, but they do keep it warmer, with the combined heat of all their bodies, plus the barn cat, too! If she does start showing other symptoms that worry you, don't hesitate to address them quickly though. You can also give them poultry vitamins in winter, in their water, like VitaproB or AviaCharge, or the feed stores even sell vitamins now. Vitamins and also organic apple cider vinegar (the kind with the mother in it)..1 TBSP per gallon..are good to help chickens stay healthy during the extreme cold. We alternate them in the drinking water, over the winter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013

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