Chicks at -40

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PolarChicken, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. PolarChicken

    PolarChicken New Egg

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    Jan 4, 2014
    Manitoba, Canada
    So I live in Manitoba, Canada and its been regularly between -30 and -40 overnight. I've got a bunch of ISA Browns that seem to be fine in this cold, but I've also got some 6 week old chicks bred from them. I recently tried to put them in a semi insulated brooder to get them out of my basement and despite their bring under a brooder lamp, three of them died and I had to move them back inside. I'm just wondering if I tried this too early or whether they should be acclimatized in smaller increments somehow. Even in this brooder it got below freezing despite the lamp. Any ideas on age to put them out. I'm a little concerned because I would like to put them with the other chickens at about 8 weeks. Thanks.
     
  2. Stacyc

    Stacyc Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 27, 2013
    I hope some good folks can help you, i feel your pain as I am in Minnesota, yeah, it's cold. This is my first year with my three girls that I rescued so I can't answer your questions. My gut would say wait as long as you can to put them out. Six to eight weeks is not that old and it is terribly cold out.
    Mabe in two weeks it won't be so bloody cold. I understand that they are hardy birds and all but my need to provide excellent care for my animals is strong and to me they are pets and not livestock.
     
  3. Stewarts

    Stewarts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2013
    PEI, Canada
    Don't put the chicks out period! They are way too young, are obviously not feathered out completely and will not withstand the cold. Losing three chicks has already demonstrated that. There is no big emergency to put them with the other birds, their health and well-being should come first. I'd get them out of the basement and into a small room or porch until the cold is over with. Semi-insulated brooder with a heat lamp isn't enough to keep them from dying if the basement is still too cold. Also, there is a very real danger of frostbite where the combs, wattles and feet will freeze and have to be amputated.

    Keep them indoors and I'd be checking on your ISA Browns if I where you and make sure they are warm enough. You may need a heat lamp where you have them. I live on Prince Edward Island and its bloody cold here with record amounts of snow. Fortunately all my birds are completely feathered out and I have them in an insulated and tarped coop with heavy straw and a heat lamp until this extreme cold passes. Don't take any more chances with your little ones and check on your big ones regularly.

    I am so very sorry for your loss.
     
  4. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    I feel your pain! I've got 25 colored rangers in a brooder in my basement due to this undependable weather. Here in northern Illinois, we're used to spots of cold and snow - but this is getting unreal!

    Our coops are insulated - more for sound than for weather - but I've found that the hens aren't appreciating this weather either - they're out to poo and back inside as soon as possible! Our coop is off the ground and I've added straw bales around the base to prevent cold winds from blowing up under the floor. It's helped I think, as the hens are digging in the bedding more than before the bales were there.

    I've also added a straw bale across the inside of the door to prevent drafts when I open the door. Yes, the draft is at head height, but not at floor level - although trying to jump a bale carrying a waterer isn't for everyone! Another option would be to put a 18" tall board across the door on the inside so that the breeze doesn't blow directly on the chicks.

    If the brooder is semi-insulated, could you put it inside the coop with a cover on it (to prevent the hens from getting into chicks space)? Our brooder can fit inside the coop, so with enough bedding, an extra lamp and our Brinsea Ecoglow brooder heater (love it - get one!), the chicks will be warm enough. I've not yet moved them out, as ours are just 2wks old. Planning ahead for next week though when they'll need to go out.

    If you don't have an Ecoglow heater, have you thought about a cookie-tin water heater? It's essentially a lamp base inside a sealed cookie tin. It keeps our waterers thawed, and I've found hens snuggled up next to it also! Check the search feature on the forums, this is the place I found how to make one. Easy and costs about $3.00 for the lamp parts - oh and the calories from having to eat the cookies! LOL.

    Good luck! It's never easy with livestock - but there are solutions out there.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. PolarChicken

    PolarChicken New Egg

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    Jan 4, 2014
    Manitoba, Canada
    I'll look into that heater idea, fighting with freezing water is another big frustration here and something like that sounds good. I've used some heated dog water bowls which works ok and a 250w heat lamp. I guess I'll just have to keep them indoors longer. They're fully feathered, but maybe they just can't generate enough internal heat like the older birds. The adults are still laying well despite the cold weather. I'm really impressed. This is our first winter with chickens, so its a bit of a learning curve. Thanks for the ideas.
     
  6. Stewarts

    Stewarts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2013
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    Oh, I know what you mean!!! Our first year wintering our birds - 14 hens, 1 Roo, 2 turkey hens and 1 meat hen. In a fully insulated coop with heavy straw on the floor; they give between 12 and 14 chicken eggs per day plus 2 turkey eggs and the only white egg I get is from my meat hen. It is a challenge that's for sure. Its good that you're going to keep them in for a while yet. I have difficulty with the freezing of their water too so I'm going to look up the cookie-tin water heater for sure. Thank you Life Is Good for the information.
     
  7. Stewarts

    Stewarts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2013
    PEI, Canada
    Just looked at one post from 2007 from hinkjc, which has pictures and its the easiest thing in the world to make. Thanks to Christmas, I have the very 'cookie' tins I need to get hubby to make one. Thanks so much for the great idea.
     
  8. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    That's the post! And if it's that cold, I figure a *few* extra calories on me won't hurt - more cookie tins needed for the chickens, what a sacrifice to make for my hens! LOL

    I've found the metal waterers to be able to transfer the heat better to keep the water flowing. The plastic waterer freezes over after a few hours. So I rotate the metal waterers - one in the house to thaw, one out with the chickens. When I go out to help them (feed, treat, well-chick check, close coop for night) I switch the waterers. I figure it's a $16 investment into our egg supply!
     

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