Cold Weather Experiment in Colorado

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by yawningreyhound, Nov 11, 2014.

  1. yawningreyhound

    yawningreyhound Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well, watching the mercury fall, fall, fall today, I decided to be more proactive in keeping the girls comfortable.

    Today, I turned on the heat lamp we installed in the coop when it was finished, something I didn't turn on once last winter for fear of overheating them.

    We turned it on this morning and watched the coop temperature rise to 26 degrees by 4pm.

    The hens turned in and I turned off the heat and shut the pop door. I believe there's adequate ventilation, we're hovering at about 42% humidity in the coop with an outside of 71%.

    30 minutes later and it's only dropped one degree.

    We're forecast to get to -4 tonight. It's 6 right now.

    I sure hope I can keep it in double digits through the night.

    I wouldn't be so worried but they're still molting. Not a hard molt at all, there's no skin showing. But their wattles are paler than usual and their energy level is reduced and their food intake is less. They sure liked the warm scrambled eggs I brought out midafternoon, tho!

    Wish me luck!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    When it gets really cold I suggest using intact grains late in the day. They have a higher energy density than moist scrambled eggs. The eggs earlier in the day should not be so problematic.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Additionally, during molt with cold temperatures I expect feed intake to be very high with higher levels realized only during the harshest part of winter. They have to expend more energy to stay warm. At this time of year my roosters even have a hard time eating enough because their later molt of body feathers delays restoration of the pelage's insulatory value.
     
  4. yawningreyhound

    yawningreyhound Chillin' With My Peeps

    I also added sunflower seeds with their eggs, but hadn't mentioned it. I didn't buy scratch yet this year (I tend not feed corn products in the summer). On the list for the next trip to town, for sure. Sure wish I could find a cornfree scratch they liked.

    They had eaten so little last week that I could count on one hand how many pint containers I'd poured into their feeder. Of course, they DO free range and seem interested in pecking around all day, so maybe they were getting filled up otherwise. Feather Fixer is their favorite feed, but it sure didn't show the last few weeks. I had to fill the feeder this morning, tho', and actually noticed quite a bit gone. They were locked up all day yesterday with the snowing going on, so they tucked into their regular feed finally.

    The coop's already down to 16 (outside is 5), 2 hours later.

    I was looking at the inside of their coop (built by a "coop builder" here in Colorado) and doesn't it seem like a metal roof would just be a conduit for lost temperature? I think I'll insulate their roof. I insulated the floor and the walls...I think I might've forgotten the roof! There's ventilation just by the way the roof sits on the walls with the corrugation of the roofing. But I could easily add a layer of something up there safely for the winter.

    Someone once told me "the coop is never done." Truer words were never spoken!

    Thanks everyone.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Where you are located I suspect millet is available. My preferred scratch is about equal parts BOSS, millet, oats, and whole corn although latter can be omitted. Wheat can provide some of the same benefits I see in corn, namely dense energy source.

    It is possible your birds are getting into concentrations of insects and wild seed cuasing reduced for feed although I would go about now to check for crop-fill status. Crop not at least half full this time of night means something is amiss.
     
  6. yawningreyhound

    yawningreyhound Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well, in spite of the coop getting to FOUR!, they survived (outside got to -3).. Moving slowly tho'....poor girls.

    But since it's 1 today with a forecast high of 0, things don't look to be getting much better.

    I think I'll put a heater out in the covered run and then if they want to, they can use it; if not, they can avoid it.

    And I can get on with my day and not worry so darn much!

    Thank goodness my e.e. honey ran electrical throughout the compound with light sockets and outlets everywhere. I'll screw in a heat lamp in the middle of the covered run ceiling and see if they like that.

    I wouldn't worry so much if they weren't molting; they have beau coup feathers growing in, but they haven't yet exploded in that wonderful coverage of new feathers...lots of pins and fluff right now. But no skin showing thankgoodness.

    When we visited Hawaii this year, I was amazed at everyone's chickenkeeping...birds running around backyards using the existing vegetation for cover with canopies of avocado and mango trees. Only minimal housing for nighttime roosting only. Minimal predators to deal with. Some day. Some day.

    Keep warm everyone!

    We're set to get 8 inches out of this onslaught since Monday.

    I look out at the various dark-eyed juncos swarming the wild food and water we provide and wonder at their survival.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson once talked about cold weather...."consider the titmouse"....I always try to remember that chickens have a down coat just like the juncos (and the titmouse). Except when they're molting.

    Like now.
     

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