Christmas Storm: Helping Hens w/ Dramatic Temp Drop (+Bumblefoot!)

May 29, 2019
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I know it's Christmas Eve, but I'm hoping someone will see this. This question is twofold:

1. Here in SWVA we're about to encounter a dramatic temperatures drop: it's going to be in the mid-50s by this afternoon and then drop to the upper teens tonight--all alongside a very wet and windy storm that will turn to snow, with tomorrow only hitting the low 20s and then dropping down to the low teens overnight. Winds the next two days 10-15 mph. Anything I can do to best setup my chickens? I've tarped the 2 sides of the run that get the most wind; run is mostly covered, deep litter in the coop, which is on the small side (just made for sleeping); no direct drafts but ventilation above head and maybe slight drafts below perches; outside of roof has one of those heat trapping tarps that I'm not sure does anything.

2. One of my hens is prone to winter bumblefoot. I caught it earlier this time and have been soaking/bandaging her feet with progress. I took her in last night since it was going to be so wet today and then get freezing, and I worried about her bandaging getting damp then freezing. Is that a good call? Problem is, she went in during mild weather, is in our basement that stays 50s-60s, and if I take her out after the storm it'll suddenly be in the 20s and teens. If I wait 2 days it'll be back in the 30s/20s. Any thoughts on how I should handle her situation?

Thank you, amazing BYC'ers, and Happy Holidays!
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Foot frost bite is the worst kind. To avoid it, you must supply bedding to keep feet dry. It's a simple principle.

I live where the temperature often fluctuates fifty degrees inside of a few hours. Chickens are sensitive to such wide spreads, needing to acclimatize over several days to cope with such a difference, so I mitigate it with added heat. I run an oil filled electric heater in my main coop to keep the temp riding just above freezing. During the day, when it's due to get very cold into the teens, I hang a heat lamp in the run for the old girls (ages 8-12) to warm under.
 
May 29, 2019
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Do you
Foot frost bite is the worst kind. To avoid it, you must supply bedding to keep feet dry. It's a simple principle.

I live where the temperature often fluctuates fifty degrees inside of a few hours. Chickens are sensitive to such wide spreads, needing to acclimatize over several days to cope with such a difference, so I mitigate it with added heat. I run an oil filled electric heater in my main coop to keep the temp riding just above freezing. During the day, when it's due to get very cold into the teens, I hang a heat lamp in the run for the old girls (ages 8-12) to warm under.
Do you mean add additional bedding to the run? The bedding in the coop is deep and dry. Unfortunately we do not have electricity run out to the coop/run. Not sure what my options are there.
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
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Foot frost bite is the worst kind. To avoid it, you must supply bedding to keep feet dry. It's a simple principle.

I live where the temperature often fluctuates fifty degrees inside of a few hours. Chickens are sensitive to such wide spreads, needing to acclimatize over several days to cope with such a difference, so I mitigate it with added heat. I run an oil filled electric heater in my main coop to keep the temp riding just above freezing. During the day, when it's due to get very cold into the teens, I hang a heat lamp in the run for the old girls (ages 8-12) to warm under.
What's gonna happen when you lose power for several days? I lost power a while back for 24 hours. My house got down to 50F inside a well insulated house. I had heat in here before I lost power.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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@WindingRoad Power failure happens. Ingenuity is required. I have used empty milk jugs filled with hot water to raise the temp in the coop during an extended power failure. I brood baby chicks in my enclosed run, and during and extended power failure, I've substituted a hot water bottle for the heating pad. A brain, it's pathetic to waste it.
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
1,765
3,037
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Maine
@WindingRoad Power failure happens. Ingenuity is required. I have used empty milk jugs filled with hot water to raise the temp in the coop during an extended power failure. I brood baby chicks in my enclosed run, and during and extended power failure, I've substituted a hot water bottle for the heating pad. A brain, it's pathetic to waste it.
All that extra work for mini heaters. Notice I live in Maine. We get snow, wind., cold, etc. I say if it ain't broke don't fix it. Using my brains to save my brawn for another day. KWIM
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
1,765
3,037
283
Maine
@WindingRoad Power failure happens. Ingenuity is required. I have used empty milk jugs filled with hot water to raise the temp in the coop during an extended power failure. I brood baby chicks in my enclosed run, and during and extended power failure, I've substituted a hot water bottle for the heating pad. A brain, it's pathetic to waste it.
How long do you have hot water in an extended power failure. Some of us also have wells and water pumps don't work without electricity. Just saying
 
May 29, 2019
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My husband says we can get a heat lamp out as far as the run (not the coop). So at least we can do that for supplemental heat in the run area tomorrow, when it's only around 20 degrees. I added a fresh layer of shavings in their coop, and attached tarps all around it to block drafts, especially from the areas that get the most wind. I made sure the overhead vents are still open. I hope this, plus the supplemental heat in the run, and some energy-dense treats nights/mornings will help get them through. We may have to grease up their combs tonight and tomorrow night as well.

We have plans to make a bigger more functional coop in the future, but unfortunately did not have the ability to do so in time for this winter. This will be our girls' second winter in there and I hope they'll fare just as well.

Yes, deep bedding to keep feet above any dampness. Before a friend strung overhead electric wire to my coops, I used to just run and extension cord, very long one, to the coops to plug in heat.
 
May 29, 2019
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What do you do to contend with the cold out there? For us the drop to the teens tonight is dramatic because our winters tend to be mild (and this one in particular has been). However our girls have had nights this winter in the twenties and fared fine... I just wish it weren't so darn warm today because that's going to be a real tailspin for them. If it were gradual I wouldn't be nearly as concerned as I believe they are pretty hardy (summers are way harder on them).

All that extra work for mini heaters. Notice I live in Maine. We get snow, wind., cold, etc. I say if it ain't broke don't fix it. Using my brains to save my brawn for another day. KWIM
 

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