Managing a Flock in Winter Weather--A Newbie Question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jacob3997, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. Jacob3997

    Jacob3997 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2016
    I live in sunny California, but California hasn't been so sunny recently. Although we're in a drought, we've experienced torrential rain in 2017 so far. It's been so rainy and cold that I haven't been able to access my chickens in the backyard for days on end, and my leghorns' combs have succumbed to frostbite. They've gotten physically smaller, and I'm worried for their safety. So, I have a question:

    What can I do to ensure my chickens keep warm over the winter months (January-March)?

    I'm currently reading Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, and Gail Damerow suggests putting straw bales on the north side of a chicken coop to ensure warm air stays in the coop.

    Is Mrs. Damerow's suggestion a good idea, and if so, how and why does it work?

    I'm not doubting her experience, but I'm skeptical because the wind doesn't necessarily always come from the north. And, I'm not sure putting straw bales on the north side of the chicken coop will keep it well ventilated.

    Thank you from rainy Hollister, California,

    Jacob
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Does this literally mean you can't get to the coop and haven't fed or watered them in days?
    Flooding?
    Is there standing water in the coop?
    What kinds of temps are we talking?

    Pics of frostbite and your coop would help us offer viable suggestions for improvement.
     
  3. Jacob3997

    Jacob3997 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2016
    I shouldn't have over exaggerated. There's no flooding, but it's very muddy out. Not to mention the near freezing temperatures.

    We recently made national news with our small town's flooding, but that was in the boonies of Hollister. The reason I mention the flooding was because we experienced the same rain as the flood plain in our small town.

    The longest I've not been able feed the chickens was twenty-four hours. They were miserable. I really care for my chickens. The rain was intense and the mud deep.

    There's no standing water in the coop, and I've been able to go out and feed and water the regularly.

    Here are pictures of my coop.

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    Here is a comparison of the chickens' combs. The first picture is how the combs originally looked. The second comb picture is how they look now. Both are pullets.

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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I don't really see any serious frostbite...maybe a bit of graying which might be mild frostbite or just dryness.
    The tips of those huge combs is where the frostbite would show up first.

    Is that coop holding out the rain?
    They are notorious for leaking.....and having no ventilation, and always too small for the number of birds they say can live comfortably and healthily in them.
     
  5. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    How old are your chickens? Have they been laying? I can't tell from your pic if that is a frostbitten comb or just pale...mine stopped laying and their combs got pale over the winter. The combs are starting to brighten up and are starting to lay again now.

    Nice that your entire coop is raised up off the ground...good idea!

    You can put coconut oil or castor oil on their combs to help prevent frostbite, but more important to make sure coop is dry AND well-vented!
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
  6. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Jacob,

    As long as you keep them dry and not in the direct path of gusty wind & rain they should be ok, what am concerned about w/ your set up is they look so crowded and not have enough ventilations in the sleeping quarter, and how do you clean their nightly droppings?

    I have 4 leghorns along with other breeds in my coop, this is their 3rd winter, never experience frost bites. Though I was concerned about them when the temps the 1st and 2nd year were -25*F a few days in a row. They are out and about in their run @0 to 10* all the time and very surprised that they actually thrive and give me eggs everyday in the winter considering they are warm climate hens. I do make sure though that they have plenty of clean liquid water and plenty of food all the time to keep them generating body heat.

    I too read that Storey's book on my 1st year w/ chicken and didn't stop there, and went to go ahead and research whatever I can have my eyes on. Some applies to my set up some doesn't, but I absorbed a lot of good infos, and never lost a single bird to disease except one w/ broken leg and got pecked.

    Hope you have a great time with your new hobby. [​IMG]
     
  7. Jacob3997

    Jacob3997 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 18, 2016
    The coop is holding up well in the rain. No leaks so far.

    My chickens are about about eight to nine months old. They have not been laying except the leghorn with the large comb and barred rock.

    @Spartan22 My grandmother has been bugging me about getting an extension to the chicken coop, and I'll think I'll do that. I let them out once a day so they can stretch. I change their bedding every Wednesday and Sunday for freshness. Should I change the bedding more frequently?
     
  8. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Jacob3997 I only change the beddings every couple of months, but I top it w/ fresh shavings every week, by collecting the poop every morning under the roosts I can get away with it without smell - proper ventilations is the key. Besides they have plenty of room to roam around in the run, they mostly go inside to lay eggs and sleep.
     
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