Dubbing questions.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by shmccarthy, May 3, 2013.

  1. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I saw a post about dubbing rooster's combs today and it got me thinking.. Last winter, one of my roosters got frostbite on his comb. Living in Michigan, it's frequent to get winter weather below freezing. I felt awful about my rooster getting frostbite and I cleaned it up the best I could. My other chickens have small peacombs, so none of them had problems with frostbite.
    This spring, I got white leghorn pullets, a barred rock, black sexlinks, and some assorted red layer pullets. I've seen that leghorns, even hens have pretty large combs. I don't know the size of the combs on the others but I have decided I am going to dub the combs of the leghorns, to prevent them from getting frostbite. Possibly the others too, if they have large combs.
    I also have a few bantam roosters I am keeping as breeding birds, and the ones with large single combs I am cutting as well. Because I have never done this before, I want to learn as much as I can before doing it.

    They are all almost 10 weeks old right now. And I need to know the right time to do it.
    My questions are, is there anyone with experience with this, and can help me?
    What is the best tool to use?
    Are there any good/creditable instructional videos or anything I can watch?
    What is the age to do this for pullets and cockerels?
    I understand that they grow at different rates so would it be at different ages?
    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    Also I don't want anyone arguing with this. I have decided I am going to do this, only for frostbite prevention. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it! :)
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Well, I don't want to argue with you, but I was wondering if you would consider trying to prevent your chickens getting frostbite by modifying their living arrangements instead? If you can keep the coop temperature above freezing and keep the air inside the coop dry enough you should not have a problem. There are a few threads on winter coops and frostbite prevention here. If you use the advanced search bar above (just below the brown header) you will find them quickly.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    shmccarthy,

    I dub, in part for frost bite prevention. If birds are expected to be producing eggs during cold winter, then upgrading winter quarters better option since conditions conducive to frostbite hamper egg production.

    Before actually attempting to dub, actually watch someone experienced in person. This will increase odds you do a job that has minimal problems for bird during and immediately following procedure.
     
  4. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had decent egg production during the winter, they stopped laying for two weeks but they continued to lay throuought the winter. We had a really bad week where it got -15 below and that's when he got frostbite. I worked out on the coop that week and put walls around the run to block the wind. They have full access to house in the run as the door is left open but prefer to roost outside. During that week, I kept them inside during the night. I'm rebuilding the hen house this summer as it was a converted dog house my dad built, as it's only made to house a few chickens. I plan on insulated walls again and an elevated floor, I have half of it built already.
    I'm still worried about the winter though because even though we had that one really cold week it was a pretty mild winter here.
     
  5. Avianman

    Avianman Out Of The Brooder

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    So, we cut their combs to prevent them from falling off. I have found no evidence that suggests that frostbite is painful, or at least more painful, than a blade, and the risk for infection is minimal.

    No, I wouldn't want frostbite, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to cut off the tips of my fingers to prevent myself from getting it.
    I am in NE Ohio, and I use the thick bedding method and a heat lamp in the winter. Wen done right, there is no more risk of fire than having a light i your house..
     
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  6. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've heard that frostbite is extremely painful.
    http://m.wisegeek.com/what-is-frostbite.htm

    This is what I found on pain associated with dubbing
    http://forum.backyardpoultry.com/viewtopic.php?p=45646
    I realize this is just for roosters
    But I would rather the chicken not suffer with the frostbite and have it fall of or get it cut off afterwards. I am modifying my coop a lot to reduce the risk of it as well.
    The housing they were previously in used to be a dog house for a lab we used to have and is think wood and a foot thick and insulated, the floor and roof are both a foot thick and insulated as well, with a blanket covered in shavings. I intend on the same design but a lot larger as I have more chickens now.
    My biggest mistake was not making them go inside at night. They usually sleep on their roosts in the run and only go in the house to lay. The winter was a lot milder than what we're used to and I figured they would go into the house if they were cold, and they didn't. We got that really cold weather as a surprise and I feel bad for not being more prepared.
     
  7. Avianman

    Avianman Out Of The Brooder

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    Frostbite is extremely painful in humans, as the article suggests, but then, so would "dubbing" if you did it to a person. Likewise, if dubbing isn't painful to a chicken, it would be for the same reason that frostbite wouldn't be.

    I know it is accepted be certain members of BYC. Just seems unnecessary. It is considered as cruelty in most countries, unless it is done under vet care with an anesthetic. Now, I'm sure that was the route you were going, but it seems adding heat to the coop to raise it above 32 degrees would be the more humane option....not to mention the additional comfort achieved.

    We are one of the last countries that consider it acceptable. Since we are posting quotes - "RSPCA Australia is opposed to dubbing on poultry intended to be exhibited at shows, and describes the practise as a cause of pain and distress.[6] The comb and wattles function in thermoregulation; blood circulating from the comb and the wattles helps the bird lose heat during hot weather. The comb is also used in mate-assessment in some poultry species.[7] Dubbing would interfere with both these functions of the comb and wattles.
    In commercial laying hens, those dubbed at hatching exhibit few effects on egg production but the older the birds are when dubbed, the greater the negative effects of dubbing.[8]
    In the UK, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) concludes "that removal of the comb offers no welfare advantages to offset the disturbance caused by the procedure and believe the practice should be phased out."[9]
    The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) writes: "Removal of the comb offers few, if any, welfare advantages in comparison with the disturbance and pain likely to be caused and should be avoided."[10]
    The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Schedule 3 Amendment) Order 1988 (SI 1988 No. 526) permits only a veterinary surgeon to remove the combs of a domestic fowl which has reached the age of 72 hours.
    In New Zealand, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee stated in 2002 they were "working towards a strategy to prevent this practice."[11]
    In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed scientific evidence and concluded "that no mutilation with an effect on welfare as severe as those resulting from cutting off toes or dubbing the comb should be carried out unless justified by evidence for a substantial and unavoidable level of poor welfare in the birds themselves and other birds."[12]


    They are your chickens , and I applaud your desire to prevent them the pain of frostbite. It just seems that adding a heat lamp is the safer choice. But, to each their own. If you do dub - use a vet - and anesthetic or it is no better than frostbite.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    shmccarthy,

    Speaking from experience having birds sleeping outside year round which is every bit as harsh as your birds must tolerate in winter, the time when frost bite is most likely to occur is during day and when a bird is somehow in poor condition. During night they sleep with head / comb protected among feathers on back which is near an additional heat source (core of body) to the blood supply derived from head. If a bird gets even a cold or especially wet from condensate caused by inadequate humidity, the ability to thermoregulate is compromised. When a bird is cold stressed one of the first responses is to shunt blood away from extremities such as comb and feet setting stage for frostbite in those areas.

    Keep birds in good nutrition and consider breed options better suited to your conditions the next time you get new birds.

    Heatlamps can be used but problems already considered with respect to fire must be protected against thru your coop design and construction. Additionally, milder conditions supported by heat lamp will vanish without time for acclimation when winter weather causes power failure.
     
  9. Poultriary

    Poultriary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd like to clarify one thing here. It is still permitted to dub poultry and dubbed poultry continue to be exhibited in Australia. The quotations provided by Avianman are from organizations that are analogous to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) - animal rights organizations - and the links provided do not support that "We are one of the last countries that consider it acceptable." They only demonstrate that some people in those other countries, just as in the US, oppose it.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but at least be honest about the facts and what axe you're grinding. I'll be up front too. One of my breeds is the American Game Bantam which is required to be dubbed. As long as we're posting links, if you want to take in all perspectives, there are a lot of reasons to be suspicious of the HSUS: http://www.humanewatch.org/

    I'm sure many of the same organizations would just as soon see poultry shows done away with completely, in fact I wouldn't doubt at all that it may even been in their long-term written goals. I am of the opinion that there are a lot worse things going on than dubbing in the world of poultry. For instance, throwing 25-30 chicks in a box and hoping the USPS gets them to a customer before they dehydrate or starve is kind of a tough proposition. But if that practice was ended; well, look down at the bottom of the page - bye bye BYC; because half their advertising would be gone. I can tell you that the cockerels I've dubbed were acting like nothing even happened to right about the time the scab formed. If we're going to anthropomorphize, I would guess pain-wise it probably falls somewhere in between getting your ears pierced and getting your averaged sized tattoo.

    But, I will agree that, living in Michigan, you may want to make a few simple changes for simplicity. I don't know what your objective are for having chickens. I'm assuming at this point it is not for show purposes, as dubbing the breeds mentioned is a disqualification. If you're in it for eggs or meat, there are lots of cold hardy breeds you could choose instead, specifically the Buckeye (which seems like a weird recommendation for Michigan, but whatever works) and the Chanticler. If you want the egg production of the Leghorn, this breed does come in rosecomb, which may not be as hardy as the pea comb, but is certainly less of an issue than those huge Mediterranean combs of the strait combed version.

    Anyhow, good luck on finishing up your new coop.
     
  10. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your answer, I really appreciate how thorough you went to explain as well. I trie to pick my breeds with cold hardiness first in mind, the leghorns being the exception. I ended up getting 7 black sex links and one barred rock instead of 8 barred rocks, due to TSC labeling their bins wrong. From what I've read barred rocks are pretty cold hardy, but I'm not sure if Black Sex Links are. I don't think I'll ever get more leghorns, I just wanted to try the breed out and made the mistake of buying them on a whim without researching much first. On the note of adding heat to the coop, I would need a pretty sufficient way to do it. I had originally bought the birds for eggs, then opened up to meat and I'm looking into raising and selling pullets, but that's in the future and I want to get one thing tackled at a time. My coop is about 100 feet from my house, down in a lower part of the yard surrounded by trees and bushed and woods. The only way we can have power out there is running extension cords from the side of the house to the coop. I have small power strip with an on off switch. I had 2 heat lamps plugged in and under a covered part of the run when I first introduced my younger pullets. They're at 13 weeks now and are integrated to the flock. The fence is chain link, it used to be a run for a lab we had. I want to tear out the old dog house and put a new coop in that's larger for all of them, they can all fit now but it's going to be cramped when they get older. I think I'm going to add a coop outside the run this time, instead of inside, to give them more room in the run. I'm still not sure what the best way to put power out there is, I'm just worried about fires ect. I'm not experienced in setting up these kinds of things, and don't have a lot of room in my budget for anything expensive (going to college full time and working part time, up to 30 hours a week). I'm lucky enough to be able to schedule all my hours to where I can still take care of my chickens :) I'm off school right now but it's been raining more than it hasn't been, so I haven't been able to start yet. Basically what I'm trying to say is my family is not well off by any means, and neither am I, but I dedicate most of my money to my animals and am willing to put time and effort into making them more comfortable. I don't know how to run electricity out very well, except the extension cord and I'm still nervous about something going wrong with that. If I can figure a way to run heat out, that's pretty cost effective, by all means I will. I just need to figure the best way to do it. If adding heat will be more beneficial to myself and the chickens I will do that instead. I was just worried about cost/safety. I can't afford to hire someone to do it for me so it would be on myself and possibly my moms boyfriend or my brother to help. Any advice on that?
     

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