frost on bird feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jtbrown, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 30, 2011
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    My birds have an enclosed run (except for the roof) and they were out in it yesterday while we were at work. My husband closed it up at 6 p.m. when he got home from work (dark for 30-45 minutes already). I went out at 8 after work to gather eggs. I talked to the ladies and collected eggs with a flashlight, but I did not count them. [​IMG] So, this morning I got kids in car to go to school and me to work, and I see a little red hen hunkered down beside the run. There was frost on her feathers, but she talked to me as I walked up. IT was a very heavy frost, probably the heaviest so far this year. It was 25 degrees. The grass around her was not frosted from her body heat I assume.

    So, I picked her up, she struggled a bit and then settled into the crook of my arm like normal. I took her into chicken house, she fluffed her feathers and kind of was slow moving, but I had to go to work, so I am here at work wondering about her. She had no sign of injury, her eyes were clear, her little comb looked good. And she was perky, just not moving fast.

    Poor dear spent the entire night outside, I am glad she wasn't a chicken nugget for anyone. But I am asking the experienced ones, is it likely she will have any issues with being out like that?

    They are not in a heated or insulated barn (very new just built for chickens, decent ventilation coop).
     
  2. ChicknThief

    ChicknThief Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2008
    Nor Cal
    The only things I can think of are possible frostbite, and perhaps developing a cold. Did her legs and feet have the normal coloration and range of motion? How about her wattles? I saw that her comb is fine.
     
  3. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    People in Canada and Alaska keep chickens in unheated coops and their chickens survive fine. Granted they get used to it over time unlike the quick changes we've had here in the Ohio Valley
    the last week. I think your little red hen should be fine. She may suffer a little frostbite on her comb but just keep an eye on her for a few days. My wife and I always carry a flashlight when we lock up the girls after dark because we are afraid of missing one of the girls at lockup time.
     
  4. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Seemed to have good circulation in feet (they were warm she was hunkered down over them and my hands felt more cold than her feet). I didn't check cap refill or anything, but I took warm as a good sign. Her wattles were same color as her comb (thank goodness both were small to begin with, but being a production red, some of her flockmates wattles are larger to begin with).

    I will spend some time with them all tonight (after 8 p.m.) when I get home, do a thorough head count (my husband will too when he gets home). I will also be with her tomorrow as I am off. I am keeping fingers crossed. I am now wishing I had had the time this morning to thoroughly check her out, if she was injured and I didn't see it, I may not have a bird tonight with the rest of the flock (33 birds).

    I was encouraged that she had kept frost off the ground around her by her body heat, at least her temp didn't drop. You think she would have tried to perch on top of one of the posts? I had to be careful not to run at her and scare her, my heart dropped when I saw her little body out there all alone. Thanks for responding, initially as I pulled out of the driveway (in a hurry by then), that we were lucky. But now 30 miles from home at a desk I am festering about it, wishing I did something different. My gut feeling is she looked good.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm in in the Ohio Valley area as well. We dropped to 22...heavy frost, but almost no wind. The wind+cold+ moisture is what really hurts, so she's most likely fine. As others have said, check for symtoms of frostbite over the next few days. Glad she didn't end up a chicken tender last night [​IMG]
     
  6. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    She'll be fine. Chickens are tough and 20 degree weather is nothing.

    The real question is: Why was she out past curfew? Is there a problem that she feels she cannot go into the house at bedtime?
     
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    She'll be fine...

    This girl had no issues... and no frost bite!
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Chic-n-farmer

    Chic-n-farmer Showers of Blessings

    Last winter our tree-roosting peafowl were caught in two ice storms. It took a hair dryer blowing hot air on their backs and tail feathers to melt the quarter inch of ice.

    They had no problems other than the humiliaton of being thawed out. [​IMG]
     
  9. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Southeastern Ohio
    Thanks for the reassurances. We have been very lucky in our chicken keeping, considering our ignorance when we started I have to thank BYC for keeping this website so informative.

    I got home tonight, she was tucked in, all comfy, making the night time bbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrr cooing noise they make when I check on them. It really helped to have some reassurance while I was at work. I wish now I had gotten a pic of her but I was so concerned with scooping her up and checking her, I'd didn't. Thanks again. I will be watching her for frost bite over next few days. I was so shocked she was not eaten in the night (considering our own dog drools over the chickens she was lucky, he was on morning patrol for 2 hours between my husband and myself leaving for work).

    Thanks again, and to all those with chickens emergencies I wish you luck. People emergencies --that is my job, chicken emergency -- I come here!
     
  10. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We're happy to hear your girl is ok! I've said it many times before....this is one heck of a fine group of people!!!
     

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