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Frostbite in 3 old hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Teresa Lundquis, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. Teresa Lundquis

    Teresa Lundquis Just Hatched

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    Can organic raw coconut oil be used on combs to prevent frostbite and treat it? I don't own vaseline.


    My 2 hens are 3 yrs old I just got them end of August. My friend said her hens were not laying much so she was going to process them. I asked to buy 2 of them. They had been fed organic grain with no soy and no corn. My girls are pets who work on controlling grasshoppers, work the land and providing manure. Oddly enough when I got them they started laying. I changed the grain to organic but it has soy and corn.

    So now the temps are dropping to 20's and not mid teens. I noticed one hen has black spots on her comb. The black spots seem to be a scab and then I can see touches of blood under it. It's not always on the tips oddly. Her comb looks half of what the other hens comb is, like shorter. Her eggs tend to have more rough shell, possibly thinner too.

    I have read many articles and some swear by vaseline type products and some say they don't help. I live on prairie in CO it's very dry, altitude 6000. The hens have chosen to roost on a 2 x 4 but on the 2 " side. It has metal fencing on it so I covered it with a blanket. After the temps dipped down I decided to put them in their med sized dog crate ( plastic shell type) with straw and a blanket over it. I build up the straw at the exit so they can break through in the morning. I put them in at night and they are sleepy. They use the dog crate to be transported from barn way down to garden. They use the crate as their mini hen house during the day. The blanket has some holes near the top. The hen had the black spots before changing her night sleeping but I noticed she may still be getting spots.

    I have one heat lamp being used in insulated goat room 6x12 ft. It's 35 to 40 degrees at night I think. There is no window and only a small LED night light and then the heat lamp comes off and on. I can't run another extension cord to this barn. The 4 goats are on one side of a 12 x 24 ft and the chickens on the other. During deep winter there is sometimes ammonia smell in the goat area and I dig out the bedding and or make more ventilation. I hesitate to add the hens. But I could. One of the goats is very old and fragile goat ( almost 11).

    I hope to install a glass window in the barn in goat and chicken area so they can have sunshine before I get to the barn in the morning. If the hens get put in with the goats it's going to be dark a long time. The goats use a doggie door to go out. I can't let the chickens out near the bar. Hope that makes sense.

    Any thoughts? sorry it so long.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I think your biggest problem is ventilation. Chickens put out a lot of moisture through respiration and feces. If you put a hygrometer in their building you will be surprised how humid it is in there. Adding heat makes it worse. Humidity is the thing that causes frostbite.
    I had a building with 2 fairly small windows, 2 vents near the floor of the back wall and a ridge vent the length of the building. I put a remote hygrometer in the building and it was 20% higher in the building than outside. I immediately cut 2 huge hardware cloth covered windows where the small ones had been. It helped a great deal.
    We have humidity issues here and it can get down near -20F and I've never had a hen with frostbite. My huge wattle and comb roosters do get some though.
    Every time I build a building I put larger and larger windows to carry off the humidity.
    The ammonia is a sign that you don't have enough ventilation. If you get down on all fours where the chickens live, it will be much worse. They have tiny respiratory systems that are damaged by ammonia.

    From your post, it sounds like you aren't providing any chicken feed and only grain. Is this correct?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  3. Teresa Lundquis

    Teresa Lundquis Just Hatched

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    The hens get the organic grain with corn and soy-free choice. They get scratch late day like 4-5 pm. I tried doing small amounts of grain like previous owner but they stopped laying and seemed thinner so free choice in a rubber tub and in a wall tube feeder. I also get organic veggie scraps( broccoli, zucchini, lettuce, parsley, cabbage-it varies from a market they can pick over. So they are in the barn some of the day then out in the garden with no access to grain-but it's like 3-4 hours. When the barn doors are open all the way its like a 3 sided hen pen- not sure of name., ground in barn is dirt with lots of straw to toss and hunt in.

    There is extremely low humidity of 3 -16 percent here in Colorado-high mountain desert. So when she was in the barn, no drafts 6 ft x 12 ft and the roof is 17 ft high. There are the 3 walls and the hens are penned in with wire fencing from floor up to roof 17 ft high. There is a small door open at the top at 16 ft that stays open, and then there's the cracks in the eaves and the barn door is 12 ft away but it's open a foot at night.

    I hope to try to build a smaller coop. I tried and built smaller cube but when they sit on the roost there is only 3 in head room which is probably way to close. I'm sure their breath with humidify that small of an area.

    The ammonia in the goat area only happened last year when it had been a lot of indoor goat days. I often get down low to do the sniff test.
     
  4. Teresa Lundquis

    Teresa Lundquis Just Hatched

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    You wrote "From your post, it sounds like you aren't providing any chicken feed and only grain."

    I 'm confused. The hens have a bag of pellets for chicken that are a mix of stuff. It's the same brand the previous owner was using. But I ask the feed store for the one with added soy and corn. the other lady didn't like corn and soy. They also get scratch. We have black oil sunflower seed as treats. Oyster shell on a bin. I also ground up their eggs shells and organic store bought egg shells and they have them free choice.
     
  5. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm in CO, too, lower in altitude but we get the lovely winds... It dips down into the -20s out here, and I've had hens roost in trees during blizzards and not get frostbite.

    The best thing to prevent frostbite us ventilation. You don't want moisture to build up in the coop and condense in their combs and wattles. They'll be fine if they have good ventilation :)

    That said, there's really no need to treat or pretreat for frostbite. It won't hurt anything to use coconut oil if they do get frostbite; its good stuff. But I don't think it'll really help prevent it...could be wrong though, never tried it.

    I've had a couple get frostbite in the coop before I put an extra vent in it, and they healed up just fine, minus a bit of comb; can't even tell who they were now. ;)
     
  6. Teresa Lundquis

    Teresa Lundquis Just Hatched

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    I think this hen being 3 is not as strong as the other hen. She just seems less vibrant thus the poor circulation which brings to mind maybe worms cause her to have poor circulation? Her shells are not as strong and are more bumpy/rough like. Instead of free choice ground up eggs shell I put some on top of their grain and the shells are smoother. But maybe worms? This time of year I don't have to eat the eggs. I don't add any lights to encourage egg production.

    Any thoughts on wormers? She is very regular in her night time roost place I could scoop some poop.
     
  7. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Well to be perfectly honest, I don't use wormers :p

    I'm organic, so I use pumpkins this time of year to worm with, kind of like an annual winter wormer thing. Pumpkin seeds contain an anthelmintic, so they can eliminate worms for me so I don't really even think about them. But it wouldn't hurt to send a fecal to CSU or the vet.

    What I would consider are a couple of things...
    1. Molting. Thus time of year is common for older hens to molt, to get new feathers grown in for winter. So if she looks shabby and missing feathers etc, it could be a molt.
    2. Mites or other pests. You noticed scabs on her comb? They might actually be mites. Do you see any teeny little red or brown bugs on her? Check near her vent too, for possible nits or eggs from lice as well.
    3. Peck marks. Those scabs could also be the other hen pecking her. Do they get along ok?
    4. Needing more calcium. The eggshells are great, and I don't add oyster shell either. My mix is handmade from fresh grains and alfalfa. I have soy in there right now in place of the alfalfa, waiting on a pellet delivery and I ran out of alfalfa... Anyway, you might add a tray of oyster shell on the side just to see if they want it.

    3 years old isnt really that old, IMO. maybe she just needs some extra TLC. Check the poo and see if it looks weird, runny, funny color, etc. In the meantime, I like to give mine some cooked egg yolk, oatmeal, and yogurt with fresh water when they're feeling run down. It can help them recuperate easier sometimes.

    And since you have grains on hand, I might suggest fermenting your feed. They'll get optimum nutrients from the feed and also establish some healthy gut microbes to help them ward off disease and parasites in the future.


    Hope it helps! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I just reread your first post where it said that you place them in a medium sized dog crate at night when the temps got low. That crowded crate might be the reason for the peck marks, and it can raise the humidity being covered. I have two coops--a small 5x7x5 foot one, and a large barn with an 8 foot ceiling. The large barn seems to be warmer with better circulation and lower humidity, while the small one seems to get colder. Most older farmers say to provide overhead ventilation to let the humid air escape, while preventing direct drafts. Roosts can be kept 2 feet or less off the ground which may keep them warmer. I like plain 2x4 roosts, but with the wide side up to enable the chickens to keep their feet warm underneath them. I don't use anything on combs to prevent frostbite. If the temperature gets around zero here, the tips of my rooster's combs may get frostbite, but I don't feel that oil of any kind will prevent that.
     
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  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Good point, @Eggcessive!

    I missed the part about the crate!

    I agree, the crate will be way too humid, with the blanket and straw over it. They can handle extreme cold, but not humidity in the cold.

    They very well could be frostbitten; we've had some good cold snaps lately. Could be peck marks as well, that's pretty confining for hens to cohabitate nicely together ;)
     
  10. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Like you say, keeping them in the crate, is the problem. THAT is the reason for the frostbite. Cold temps. combined with high humidity (Generated entirely from the chickens), in a closed up box. Keeping them in the box, sets the stage for frostbite. They would be waaaaaaaay better off just hanging out in the barn. More self generated problems, from the never ending quest, to keep chickens warm.
     

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