Frostbite Questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WitksChicks, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. WitksChicks

    WitksChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 8, 2009
    Central CT
    I live in Connecticut, and being new to chickens, this is my first winter with with my small flock of 6 girls. I have a 4' x 6' coop, the roosting bars are old hand railings, which or oval shaped. The girls all roost on them at night with no apparent problem, so far. They have an outdoor fence enclosed run that measures 16' x 8' and the space under the coop. The run is covered in fencing as well.

    They all love to be outside in their run (and free ranging when I am home to keep an eye on them for safety). They even stay out when there are torrential downpours. I've gone out there a number of times to physically put them in the coop because it was raining so hard.

    you can check out my coop/run and roosting bars on my page at: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=33806-coop-construction

    scroll
    down and you will see the roosting bars. Hope this helps visually for the size.

    Here are my questions:

    Seeing they don't appear to be in the know as to when to go in from the rain, how are they suppose to know to get out of the snow?

    If they are let out of the coop and into the run, will their feet get frostbitten just by them being on snow, cold ground, possibly some ice all day? Will they know enough to get into the coop if their feet are too cold?

    I know at night they need to have their feet covered so they don't get frostbite on their toes/feet. Do you think the roost bars I have are ok? They are about 2 inches in thickness (top to bottom) and about 3.5" inches wide and all four corners have curved edges.

    If I need to modify (replace the bars, I need to do it soon).

    Also, The two RIR's I have have combs and waddles that are large. I've heard that vasaline is good to put on them to prevent frostbite. When temperature wise do I need to do this? and how often?

    Thanks everyone for your feedback. I want to keep my girls healthy and happy over the long New England winter.

    I'm sure once I get some replies, I'll have more questions.
     
  2. Princess Amri

    Princess Amri Is Mostly Harmless

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    best coast
    Quote:They should learn.

    If they are let out of the coop and into the run, will their feet get frostbitten just by them being on snow, cold ground, possibly some ice all day? Will they know enough to get into the coop if their feet are too cold?

    They're toes usually don't freeze by being in the snow. They should learn to go in.

    I know at night they need to have their feet covered so they don't get frostbite on their toes/feet. Do you think the roost bars I have are ok? They are about 2 inches in thickness (top to bottom) and about 3.5" inches wide and all four corners have curved edges.

    Fine.

    Also, The two RIR's I have have combs and waddles that are large. I've heard that vasaline is good to put on them to prevent frostbite. When temperature wise do I need to do this? and how often?

    I'm not sure.

    They should be okay. Chickens are tougher than they look. IF they are fluffed up, shivering and sleepy all day, get them warm!​
     
  3. JakRat

    JakRat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    Dover
    I have heard about the vasaline as well, but I am not sure how often to do that.
     
  4. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    I think the vaseline is more to keep water from collecting on their waddles, combs etc. So you would want to keep it on constantly. And below freezing.

    And your chickens may not go out in the snow. Mine wouldn't leave the coop last year for weeks. I finally went out and shoveled paths around the back yard. Some people put down straw for them to walk on.

    As said earlier your roosts are fine.

    Imp
     
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    Go out at night with a flashlight and check your chickens on their roost. If you can't see their toes peeping out from under their feathers, your roosts are fine.

    I was reading about the vaseline thing, and the suggestion is that it really isn't the vaseline that helps, but it's the massaging of the combs that helps because this increases blood circulation in the comb (which is what prevents frostbite). Makes sense, because you hear some people swear by it and some people claim it doesn't work. If the people who swear by it spend lots of time massaging the comb while the people who say it doesn't work just dabbed on the vaseline, this explains the disparity.
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Unless you have MONSTER huge chickens, or have been crossbreeding them with Bigfoot, then yes, your roosts are just fine, that's what many/most of us in the north use [​IMG]

    They don't come in from the rain mostly b/c they don't WANT to; not all critters on this planet have human-type attitudes towards weather [​IMG] Unless there is something seriously wrong with your coop, they WILL go in when they want/need to, don't worry.

    Snow is not bad for them to walk around on; hard frozen bare ground, or ice, are more of a problem, but as long as there are appealing other areas for them to go (e.g. into the coop, also ideally some sheltered outdoor area(s) with snow or thick straw or mulch) they are unlikely to have problems.

    There are different theories as to why (and whether) vaseline-ing the comb and wattles helps prevent frostbite. Personally I suspect it DOES, but am not aware of any actual studies. I do it anyhow. I mean, worst case scenario I'm wrong and it's merely useless; but likelier it does some good at least in some situations. Possibly be limiting evaporation of water from the skin. It is kind of up to you when and how often to do it, there is no research-based baseline available and everybody who does it, does it their own way [​IMG] Once you've had your chickens for longer you will get a feel for when they are likely to have problems; for now, sorry but all I can say is 'do what seems sensible' [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  7. WitksChicks

    WitksChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 8, 2009
    Central CT
    PatandChickens
    Thank you for your responses. I even read the link on your signature regarding cold winter.

    I'm confident that they will be comfortable in the coop over the long winter nights. It's insulated to R15. My DH just put plexiglass covers (storm covers) over all the external window openings, and we have sliding plexiglass windows on the inside. We still have plenty of ventilation, at the ridge vent and eves. If not, then it will be very easy for us to remove a storm cover or two (as needed).

    I'll vasaline as I see the need. My girls are gentle enough for me to do it, and actually enjoy the attention.

    Thanks again,

    WitksChicks
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  8. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Valeline is okay and may help for 20-30 F. But if it gets too cold it can actually freeze solid.

    Had that happen to one of my roosters. It was about 10 F with a windchill below 0 and it froze in about 10 minutes. He lost close to an inch off of his comb. He certainly could've stayed in the coop but chose not to.

    The danger for them is the same as it is for us. When it is very, very, cold it can happen before you realize it.

    Most of the time they have the sense to come in when they are cold though. It isn't a huge concern. [​IMG]
     

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