Surviving Minnesota!

Discussion in 'Where am I? Where are you!' started by Bogtown Chick, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

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    That was what my Grandpa and Dad use to say for down here..So up there it could be 5 months. Which makes it July 18th....[​IMG]
     
  2. Rhetts

    Rhetts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very Funny. I will barely get seeds in the ground and they will die from frost!!!
     
  3. Rhetts

    Rhetts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How soon does a first time heifer show signs of calving??

    The Highland of mine I thought was due in June just sprung an udder with teats that I am most certain were not there yesterday. And her vulva is swelling some. Should I be penning her up?? I am totally lost here.
     
  4. Rhetts

    Rhetts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Background info on her is pretty much nill.

    I got her in November, previous owner DH THOUGHT said bull was chasing her around in August. But we don't know anything at all. She was 20 months old when we got her which would make her 23 ish months now.
    I look them over daily. She has never had any teat or udder anything visible to the the eye. Today she turned and I was smacked in the face with udder and teats!! I was shocked! You can even see the teats when she is standing profile. So I told DH and he was looking her over. Said her vulva is swollen too. Sure enough it is swollen and bouncing around when she walks.

    Now what??
     
  5. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

    23,596
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    Orrock township, Minnesota

    I doubt she will make it until June....
     
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  6. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

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    I put 26 CLB's in the hatcher. I did not have one toad egg go into the hatcher again. Worthless Bert!

    I put 57 eggs in the incubator for a Mar 11 hatch. 26 CLB 12 toads (wasting incubator space)... 5 EE's ... 7 SS and 7 PC... (fingers crossed on all of them!)


    I was quite happy with the CLB's this time, I only threw away 5-6 of them as non-starters and 1 quitter. I am also impressed that I threw them away. Normally I put them in the hatcher and hope. They have never hatched and there has never been anything in them. I am trusting myself more.
     
  7. erlibrd

    erlibrd Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Welcome [​IMG]
     
  8. KlopKlop

    KlopKlop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Southern Minnesota
    aren't you worried that sharing Berts impotence with the general public will drive him into a deep depression? He may not have the gumption to even try any more!
     
  9. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

    23,596
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    Orrock township, Minnesota

    I keep hoping it is seasonal. I did notice I have higher ratio of fertile eggs than before. I wonder if I could get Bert a prescription for his problem.
     
  10. Cluckies

    Cluckies Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    My Coop
    [​IMG] MNchickmom! Well, there is great information on this site for chickening, so you've come to the right place!

    As requested, here is a repost, keep in mind itis for a "small time" chicken owner [​IMG] so for a bigger operation others would have more helpful advice.

    Lesson’s from a small coop chicken keeper, in winter, in Minnesota

    (Mostly learned from mistakes I’ve made my first year)

    1 – Ventilation
    Ventilation is good, drafts are bad.
    Keep the ventilation up high. Do not let it run from low, up over the hens, and out.
    Keep the hens’ heads out of the ventilation as well.
    It should be passive ventilation, no wind, no drafts.
    So, I wasn’t ready for winter last year when in November it went from 53 degrees and 100% humidity to 4 days later, below zero and still 80% humidity. It was terribly, terribly wet. And cold.
    My chickens were up high, in the ventilation. I had the high roost up over the vent holes at the bottom, the ventilation came right up and over them. My fault, 2 ended up with frostbite (on their combs). The two closest to the ventilation holes where the air came up and over them and out.
    Took out the high roost, so now they are on a low roost on the back wall the farthest away from the low ventilation holes as they can get. No new frostbite after that. I close off the low ventilation when it gets very cold or if the wind is blowing from that direction.

    2 - The drier the better.
    So, my henhouse is approx. 4.5x6.5x6ft. It is a good size for 5 or 6 chickens to sleep. Just under 30 square ft. So, how to keep moisture down in such a small area? It is not easy.
    I laid down a bag of Sweet PDZ, (Horse Stall Refresher) directly on the floor of the henhouse, then covered the sweet PDZ with pine shavings. This keeps the henhouse drier. The sweet PDZ is zeolite. I fluff the PDZ into the shavings regularly, keeps everything dry.
    From the sweet PDZ site: How Does Sweet PDZ Work?
    Sweet PDZ is extremely effective at neutralizing and removing ammonia and odors, because of its two special properties:
    Adsorption - Which is the sticking of the ammonia gas molecule to the surface of the Sweet PDZ granule. When the Sweet PDZ granules desorb, or dries out, the ammonia odor molecule is driven off the surface of the mineral as nitrogen. This is why spent (used) bedding material that includes Sweet PDZ, works so well as a slow release fertilizer or as an enhancement to composting.
    So, it not only keeps it drier in the henhouse, it absorbs odor and keeps ammonia down as well. A win/win.
    If you have frost on the inside of your windows, it is too wet in there, you need to lower the humidity. You can try more ventilation up high, or drier bedding, or both.
    Keep water out of the henhouse if possible, that only adds moisture in there.
    Clean up any spills or wet spots as soon as possible to keep it dryer in there.

    3 – Do you need heat?
    Many people say no. Do you need it? Probably not. As the guy at the feed store said, he only lost a couple to the cold last year. The year before that was way worse. When you have many, many chickens, it is probably no big deal, when you have 5-6 or less? And they are pets? Yeah. So, I did add heat. No heat lamps, risk of fire is too high. I added a flat panel wall mounted ceramic heater, it gets hot to the touch, but does not get burning hot to the touch. Now, people say, “Well what if the power goes out? They’ll be used to having heat, so now they will die.” Ummm, so there is a difference between heating to take the edge off and heating to 70 degrees. I have my heater plugged into a thermocube, it turns on at zero and stays on until it climbs back up to 10 degrees above zero. So basically, last year when the temp went to 24 below, it turned on at zero, had to try and heat the hen house, by the time it got to 24 below zero, the henhouse was up to a balmy 7 degrees above zero. If the power goes out, which it did last year on a very cold night, the hens were fine. They weren’t used to being warm, it was just enough heat to take the edge off. I also placed a seeding mat on the wall behind the roost. The seedling mat heats up to 10-15 degrees above ambient. I didn’t think it was doing much (this was before I got the flat panel heater) but one morning I went out there, it was below zero, they were all facing the wall, so they must have felt the heat coming off of it)
    I also placed a piece of left over green house panel above the roost to keep the body heat around them, did I need it? Don’t know, I was just experimenting, but it seemed to work pretty well, so I left it. It seems to keep the warmth in around them, and the cold air from “falling” on them. I didn’t have any frost on my chickens this year.

    4 – The run
    Cover the run and block the wind on at least the north and west sides, I block all sides to keep the snow and rain out. You can use whatever you want. I use green house panels because they are sturdy, and fit against my hardware cloth well, and can be taken down and put up quickly. But, they are spendy. If I wasn’t using those, I would use thick clear plastic sheeting. Some people use tarps, but they are hard to keep in place and they make it dark in the run. The plastic sheeting lets light in. If you use plastic sheeting, I’d rig it somehow where you can lift up the south side and put them down when it is raining or snowing. It rained in my run last year, then it froze. Don’t want them jumping off of roosts onto frozen ground. Then it snowed in my run, and I was shoveling out the run. No good. So then I put the panels up on every side all winter long, I left the south side open, but did add them to the south side when it is going to rain or snow, or was windy. The plus side of the greenhouse panels was that on very cold days it warmed up the run a little. Win/win.

    5 – Frozen Water
    I do not keep water in the henhouse, remember, you want it dry in there. Plus, mine only go in the henhouse to sleep, or to lay eggs, even at 24 below they were in the run, out of the wind, but in the run.
    I keep 2 waterers out in the run because I’m a worry warden. If one freezes up, hopefully the other one doesn’t. I leave for work at 5am and don’t get home until 4 or after, so I need heated waterers, or it would be frozen by the time they get up and out to the run around 8 or so.
    I have an electric dog dish, raised off of the ground. Inside of that I place a black rubber dish which I can change out easily. I place a gallon jug of sand in the middle so the chickens can’t walk in it. I bring the rubber bowl and the bottle of sand in overnight to warm up when it is below 20. (some people use a dog dish, the plastic one with the straight sides and they put an ice cream bucket in there, good idea as well). When it got really cold, below zero, I had to take the rubber bowl out and use the heated dog dish directly. The second waterer I have is a 2 gallon pail with horizontal nipples. Inside I have a bird bath deicer, and a pond pump that keeps it circulating. I did try the Farm Innovators 3 Gal. heated plastic poultry fountain, from fleet farm, the white one with the red plastic bottom, it froze. But that is not why I stopped using it. One day when I was picking it up to bring it in and refill it, the bottom came off, there was water all over the run. I was scooping up extremely cold water in below freezing weather with my bare hands trying to get it out of my run before it froze. Ouch.
    My waterers are plugged into a thermocube that comes on at 35 degrees and shuts off at 45 degrees.
    Some people only use the rubber dishes, then they turn them over, stomp them out, and refill. If I was home while the chickens were up and out, I would have no problem with this, as I know they would get water before it froze. I use these in the summer.
    Some people also use cookie tin heaters, or cinder block chicken water heaters. Google each for directions on how to make them, they seem to work really well.

    6 – Nesting boxes
    Frozen eggs. When you leave for work at 5am and get home at 4pm, it is unavoidable. However, I only had a few frozen eggs last year. I bought an unheated pet warming pad, where their body temp warms up the pad. Since my hens always use the same box, and take turns, it seemed to work most days to keep the eggs un-frozen. One in, one out, one in, one out… so this seemed to work for the most part. I’ve seen where they use seedling mats, it heats the mat to 10 to 15 degrees above ambient temp. Be careful, I bought one to try and just placed it in the main part of the henhouse with pine shaving over it, as it heated the shavings, the temp went up, then the mat temp went up (remember 15 degrees above ambient) then the shavings heated up, then the mat. Pretty soon the mat was up to 90 degrees. So I nixed that. But maybe if you don’t cover it too much it would be fine? Let me know if you decide to try this. If it gets really cold and stays there, I may resort to a heating pad set on the lowest setting and see if that works. I bought one that you can turn off the automatic shut off. Plastic and you can place the cover on it, or not. We’ll see about this, if needed. I’m kind of scared to do this, will the hens stay in the nest box all day because it is warm? I don’t know.
    If I think of anything I forgot, I’ll come back and update.
    Update, my chickens quit laying in November their second year, and didn’t start until February 16th, so no need to worry about frozen eggs! lol

    7 - Dust bathing
    I have 3 areas for dust baths in my run, now. I probably only need one for 5 chickens, probably need more for more. I take a big rubber round feed thing from fleet farm and a rubber maid tote and add organic peat moss. Sometimes i'll DE to it if I remember. They love it. Lesson learned, buy a few bags in the fall before winter, as midwinter, you cannot find it. I get the organic peat moss from Fleet farm or Menards. Just recently I put the whole block of peat moss in the run, they love picking through that thing and breaking it up! lol The girls love it and get in it as soon as I put it in there, they pick around in it, then dive in. The girls love to dust bathe and it helps keep critters at bay.

    8 - Picking cold weather friendly chickens
    As much as I love my Buff Orpington Cluck-Cluck, and my Golden Comet Fi, I won't be getting those breeds again, I felt really bad when they got frost bite last year. Here are some really nice cold weather breeds which i've been looking at, which have little or no combs so won't get frost bit: Wyandottes (have), Easter Eggers (have), Chanteclers, Buckeyes, Dominiques, Araucanas/Americanas.

    Here are some links I found very informational:
    How to heat your nest boxes
    Poop board convert
    DIY Instructions for Very EASY heated waterer for under $20 bucks
    Mama heating pad

    To see photos of my run in winter, click on "My Coop" scroll to the bottom to see photos.
     
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