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Gaining & Maintaining Weight in Harsh Climate

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by FuzzyButtz, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. FuzzyButtz

    FuzzyButtz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi everyone,

    This is my first winter with Chickens.. I have 7; (5) 6MONTH Orpingtons who haven't started laying, (1) 1.5YR Jersey Jiant and (1) 2YRWhite Leghorn. We have a 20 x 12 run and a raised 4l x 3w x 3.5h coop equiped with 2 nest boxes, a roost running diagonally (which they all fit comfortably on) and a 200W light for both light & heat, which stays on about 20-hrs per day.

    I live in Northern Alberta, so we get snow, sleet, and very cold temps thru the winter... it's supposed to be -20C (-4F) tonight. The coop is a nice temperature with the light on, and I often keep the straw about 6-8" deep for them to bed down in if they so wish. I normally feed them outside (Layer Mash mixed with a bit of warm water or ACV), until last week when we had a cold snap (-15C) and I came home late one evening, around 10PM, to find my littlest Orp, Booger, had her leg stuck in the Mash which had frozen, and two other Orps took it upon themselves to lay on top of her to keep her warm until I could rescue her. Once freed, her and 1 other ran for the coop to get warm. I noticed the third, my favourite of all 7, just sat there.. so I picked her up, and put her in the coop. Since then she hasn't been the same.. she rarely moves, has a very, very poopy bum and if she leaves the coop, she will just sit there with her feathers fluffed up; alone or with the others. If I put her in the coop, she will stay there (but she comes out on her own in the AM when I feed them).


    I did notice that since the really cold night when her buddy got stuck, there is a small black spot on one bump of her comb... frostbite?

    When it's mild, like it has been the past few days, I do feed them outside still and I have switched them back to Pullet Grower as none of my Orps have layed yet, and my Jersey hasn't laid since late August, and my leghorn hasn't laid since late September. They will all leave the coop to eat just fine, but then often retreat back to the warmth of their coop. I went out today to find Frankenstein (my favourite) perched on the heated water dish by herself.. I picked her up, cuddled her for 5 minutes (she loves to be held and pet - she goes right to sleep) and then put her in the coop. Even in the midst re-bedding, she just sat exactly where I put her.. I decided to change out their breakfast for some Pullet Grower, Wheat, picked some Wild Oats, and warm Milk. I left it in the coop so they don't have to go outside and eat it as the sun's now starting to go down, temperatures are plummeting and coyote's are coming out.. I don't think she weighs more than 3-4 pounds at this point.

    Likely on Monday when I have the full day off, I am going to bring her into the house in the AM and bath her, then let her dry thoroughly inside before putting her back out with the others.. I was told to do the pumpkin de-worming (and I did), but I'd much prefer to rule worms out so I am going to pick the proper stuff tomorrow morning and see how that goes..

    But that aside, what are your suggestions for additional feed, or things to try to encourage and maintain weight through this harsh climate?

    (I should mention, she IS eating and drinking, and no one is picking on her)
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have little experience with some of the highly refined feeds you are using and do not use ACV. When I want to get ensure adequate energy intake I up the amount of whole corn ingested. It is nutrient dense, packs well into crop and they like it. The additional corn uptake occurs only after the standard balanced fare is consumed. Make certain grit is available. I also use BOSS.
     
  3. FuzzyButtz

    FuzzyButtz Chillin' With My Peeps

    OH yes, I should include.. they do get Oyster Shells and Grit :)
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Go out and feel their crops tonight. Then give them some whole corn tomorrow and feel their crops again tomorrow night. You may find a greater degree of crop fill which is what you want to keep them in energy all night long.
     
  5. FuzzyButtz

    FuzzyButtz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for your input! I've always heard corn is bad for them as it cuts up their throat? I'm making them a concoction right now that's packed full of nutrients and treats.

    Kale,
    Pumpkin,
    Feta Cheese,
    Garlic (sliced Clove),
    Coconut Oil,
    Bean Sprouts,
    Alfalfa Sprouts,
    Whole Peas,
    Wheat,
    Bread

    Hope it helps a bit. I'll look into finding corn tomorrow!
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Corn will cause not problems for throat. My five-week old chicks eat it without ill effects.
     
  7. FuzzyButtz

    FuzzyButtz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well unfortunately Frankie was found dead this morning.. Hubby said it looked as though she got her head stuck in the Milk Crate (nest boxes) and broke her neck.. very, very sad. Bye Bye Milk Crates!! The rest are getting de wormed tomorrow.

    That aside.. we started covering any holes and the large [summer] vents to help lock more heat in.. hope this helps the girls. I picked up some Corn today and will add it to their diet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Be careful not to have it closed up too tight as humidity will then build up which very bad. If birds are wormy, get deworming behind quickly. Once birds are in good weight and feather they will be able handle the cold just fine.
     
  9. FuzzyButtz

    FuzzyButtz Chillin' With My Peeps

    There are still vents open, just the large vents (6" at their widest) are enclosed, and some of the cracks as it's an upcycled coop. It's supposed to be -30C with the Wind tonight, but they have a 100W bulb for added warmth.

    I'm not sure if they're wormy, but i'm ruling it out so they will be de wormed tomorrow morning. 2 of my chickens look excellent, but the other 4 are boarderline/thin.
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I read your first post again. You are feeding a layer mash which formulated for a commercial flock under much more controlled environmental conditions. Such formulations tend to have the lowest protein levels you can get away with under ideal conditions. Your setup with respect to temperature will be well outside the "ideal" range. I strongly suggest providing some higher protein grower feed to mix as well as free-choice access to oyster shell. When pushing birds with respect to environment I always up energy and protein relative to what the get when conditions are milder. Staying warm is tough, especially if they are still trying to stay in lay. Whole corn is still OK but make certain they consume a good amount of the complete formulation as well. My rule is to keep the quality protein intake per unit weight of bird relatively constant for adults, but as feed intake increases with decreasing temperature I allow birds to make up difference with the intact grains and when its hard to keep liquid water in front of them I invoke the use of soaked oats as well.
     

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