Vacation disaster

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by WillowChick, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ok long story short. I left for 3 weeks and had my neighbour watch my cats and chickens. She has horses, a donkey, cats and dogs, but had not looked after chickens, so I gave her a pretty large introduction to them, she was writing everything down, but I should have made a list myself.

    Our 5 hand tamed chickens were left in our 3x5 coop during -5 to -20C for the entire 3 weeks, she only opened the door to feed them. Our coop is heated to +5 - +10C. The whole thing was frozen shut (we managed to open it) and it's soooo wet inside. I have some DE and I have dry shavings to swap out, but it looks like 2 of them may have frostbite on their combs.

    The OTHER problem is that the rooster (who was a juvenile when we left) will not let us in the coop. He keeps biting us. (and then pecking the girls if they go close to us) I have to clean it out! They all used to eat from our hands and now they just look terrified!

    What other things should I be checking for, and how do you deal with a VERY crazy pet rooster (totally not his fault) I can't even check them over other than looking at them through the window and feeding them.

    Also, she fed them potatoes!


    Willow in Alberta
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    How sad. Let's hope they calm down in time, as they reacustom themselves to their old routine -- and to you.

    You might end up docking the frostbitten areas of the combs if there are large black areas, as that is dead tissue. You could put some antibiotic ointment on them, especially where the two areas meet, and maybe prevent any serious infection from setting in. I believe lots of times these areas just sort of dry up and fall off -- but this is something I've only read about.

    Your young rooster whose hormones are surging might have developed pretty bad behavior anyway, of course. You could try separating him for several days if you can, the way one does for a bully, then reintroducing him to see if he will calm down. I've never had much luck with a really people aggressive roo, but there are things people say help, like picking him up and carrying him around like a football. You should be able to pick them all up off the roost at night if you can't get near them during the day.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  3. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I never thought about doing that at night, thank you! I managed to shoo them out of the coop with a broom in the mean time. Do you have any suggestions about the coop itself? It's pretty moist. The bottom has a rubber mat on it, but the sides were caked with moisture and shaving dust. I scraped it off and put some DE in there with all new shavings (that was a massive undertaking, as we were trying deep litter method)... do you think that will be enough?

    Thanks so much for the reply


  4. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    It sounds like you have a serious lack of ventilation in the coop. You don't have all the windows closed, right? Even if you have to keep them in there, there should not be a noticeable amount of moisture found. A 15sq ft coop is kind of tight for 5 birds. Especially if they have to be kept in the coop. Generally, 4sq ft a bird is recommended. Also, the heater is not helping either. Chickens can handle cold weather just fine on their own, they don't need any help from us there. As far as the rooster goes, that's usually the way they get. There are exceptions to the rule, but most get kinda crabby, especially a young rooster.
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    You must be real cold up there!!! I can't imagine! I think I would be letting them out for a few hours every day, and leave the coop doors open. Like JackE said, think about ventilation-it's hard to when things are so cold.

    The pet roo? It usually happens when they reach a certain age. I go out and stalk the roo all over the place not letting him stop til I let him. I do this about 10 minutes a day especially if he shows you his poor behavior. As often as you can, make him move by stalking, don't let him eat or drink in your presence. Never take a step back!!! I don't use brooms because I want my roos to respect me, not fear me. I think all that behavior modification may be hard with the cold weather. But keep doing it until he stops. When you go out, always make sure that you walk straight toward him and look him in the eye. These things will hopefully convince him that YOU are the alpha roo, not him.
  6. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    The windows don't open, but the door does and the roof does and the egg door on the side does. It also has a chimney to draw moisture. We open the front door in the morning, and it's open all day (unless it's a blizzard) but our chicken sitter LEFT EVERYTHING CLOSED FOR 3 WEEKS (ohmygoodness I still can't believe it) There are 2 bantams and 3 standards in the coop, and 2 perches that run the length and the width of the coop with room for them to walk under. I was told 2 square feet per chicken... is that wrong? The heater is on a thermostat and is a backup in case the temp drops drastically, but it was permanently on because it was set too high while we were gone. (+10C) I have been worried about us having it too warm in there.....
  7. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    That's good advice about the dominance thing. I couldn't do much when the lid of the coop was frozen onto it, but now that I've chipped all the ice off, and given the whole thing a good cleaning, I can run him all over the yard! I'm bad with getting scared and pulling my hands away too quickly etc. I'll have to work on that.

  8. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    2 square feet per bird is pretty tight - standards should have 4, which would use up 12 sqf of your coop for the big birds alone.

    The temps listed were in celsius, so not as bad as if farenheit. They are not, IMO, cold enough to require any heat, especially with so many birds in one coop. I have never heated my coop, never had frostbite, always have one window at least cracked open - and we get winter temps below zero F (some nights well below).

    Removing the wet bedding and replacing it with dry, in addition to opening your coop up, should remove enough moisture.
  9. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good to know, thanks! I think I have given up the deep litter idea. Too many potential problems with our particular setup.

    We get down to below -40 here 3-4 days a year (That's C and F at that point!) so we thought we should have some kind of heat rigged up, but I agree, they normally wouldn't need it. We average -15 to -25ish C on a regular winter day.

  10. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Deep litter definately does not work for all setups. I planned my coop with doors raised and enough floor space for up to a foot of bedding, without it spilling out the entrances and into the nest boxes - thinking ahead for a change!

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