Just want cold weather reassurance!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mcclucker, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. mcclucker

    mcclucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My first year with chickens in northern Vermont. I have 5 26 week old hens - all cold hardy breeds. Their coop is well insulated and winterized - ventilated, straw, protected from wind as best I could (covered their run with a tarp and construction plastic, leaving space for moist air to escape). The roost is below he ventilation.

    We are having our first below zero night and I'm worried about them. Tell me they will be fine??

    They have one nesting box with a thermopeep pad (to prevent eggs from freezing - 3 are laying) and a heated waterer but no other heat.

    Also, how can you tell frostbite from dirt? My buff orps have whitish/ gray particles on their combs. I can't tell if it's just dust/dirt or frostbite and I don't want to wash them off or rub it to make it worse. Here is one of them - top of the comb looks whitish. [​IMG]
     
  2. kimberliegbisho

    kimberliegbisho New Egg

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    We lived in Massachusetts for 3 years with our flock (recently moved to the West coast - in part to get away from winter temps like you are getting!). The coldest it got was -15 (without windchill) and all of our girls, including 2 bantams, were totally fine. I was nervous about them too, and felt terrible that they had to be out in the cold, but aside from fluffed feathers and staying in their coop during the coldest days, it really didn't seem to bother them much. Keeping them well fed is key, and keeping water from freezing of course. It sounds like you have a good coop and run set up. I only ever had one chicken get a tiny area of frostbite, and that was the first year we had them and I didn't know how much ventilation they really need. Good luck!
     
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  3. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    Hi from another Vermonter! They'll be fine :) They need no heat.

    Frostbite is pretty easy to identify - the tips of their comb will turn black. If you're worried about it you can put vaseline on their combs and wattles and it'll prevent frostbite.

    Here's frostbite:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. mcclucker

    mcclucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah I'm worried they don't have enough ventilation. The coop walls are so thick (the coop was built by the previous owner of the house) that I can't figure out how to cut through everything to make more ventilation. They have one 3' long x 6" tall opening with a screen on it at the top of the one window. It still feels "damp" in there though. But that's all the previous owner had - he actually just left the window open a crack, less than I have. So idk.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  5. mcclucker

    mcclucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also thank you! - that chicken I'm holding normally doesn't let me hold her very long but she snuggled right into my jacket and wouldn't get down lol
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    @kimberliegbisho gives a good example...my experience is very similar.
    Tho I'm not in Vermont we had a couple of frigid winters in '13-'14.


    Your hen looks like she might have some very mild frostbite...which can appear as a grayish white and will 'go away' with no tissue loss.
    The black stuff is dead tissue from severe frostbite...the black portions will eventually fall off and not regrow.

    IMO coating combs and wattles might help prevent frostbite, but there's no guarantee it will prevent it....
    ...but once they have it, it's best to leave hands off unless they have an obvious infection that would need treatment.
    Messing with compromised tissue can just make it worse and actually introduce infection.
    There can also be swelling that can last a few days.

    This guy healed up just fine with no intervention, tho I did keep a close eye on him for signs of infection.
    He lost his comb tips the year before and lost parts of his wattles from the event pictured.
    By spring you could hardly tell what had happened.

    Initial swelling, lasted 2-3 days.
    [​IMG]

    After swelling went down.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. mcclucker

    mcclucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok thanks. On closer inspection it looked like she had a slight tear in the comb so I put Vaseline on that to heal, hoping it will help with frostbite too.
     

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