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When should I bust out the vaseline?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by brandislee, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 15, 2011
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    I live in South East Minnesota. My chickens live in a small-ish coop (>>>Completely unintentionally this worked out well- I have a 6x9 coop for my 22 chickens, which is on the small side, but it has a "second floor" of another 18 sq feet... and with all the snow we get and their obvious distaste for the substance I learned fast that wasn't going to be enough space for my chickens. So I built a 10 by 10 A frame and covered it with a heavy duty canvas tarp... seriously, this took me 4 hours to build and the biggest expense was the tarp... and butted it up to their pop door. The moral of the story being that they have 178 square feet of sheltered, usable, snow free space during the day, but at night they're confined to the smaller, more secure coop that helps concentrate their heat by keeping them to a warmer space... anyway...<<<) with lots of eave ventilation and a 2x4 window that I open any day the temp is above freezing (and there isn't serious wind) and close at night. It's dry here in the winter, so with my ventilation it's a pretty fair bet that humidity isn't a huge issue.

    That's a lot of info for a simple question- when do I know it's time to put vaseline on my roosters' combs? I have a BO rooster with a HUGE comb (huge...) and a Wyandotte with a nearly as huge comb. And at what point do I start to worry about the hens' combs? With their smaller combs the hens are less susceptible but not out of the woods, right?

    So anyone else who deals with regular single digit and sub zero temps, how do you know when to bust out the vaseline? Because I really don't want to learn this the hard way, but I also really don't want to vaseline both of my boys every night for the next four months.
     
  2. bobbieschicks

    bobbieschicks Chicken Tender

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    King George, VA
    My Coop
    I don't know an answer to this but I'm curious too. If this forum gets no response try the emergencies one.
     
  3. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 15, 2011
    Southern Minnesota
    Thanks- I was unsure where I should post this, but with it not being an emergency I thought this might be the more appropriate forum.

    Maybe I'll just go post on the Wisconsin forum- they have the same climate and are a lot more responsive than the MN forum.
     
  4. bobbieschicks

    bobbieschicks Chicken Tender

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    Jun 24, 2011
    King George, VA
    My Coop
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  5. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 15, 2011
    Southern Minnesota
    I still haven't found an answer, but 20 degrees seems reasonable... possibly a little high, but I'm beginning to think better safe than sorry. One of my roosters has had issues with his comb from the start- black spots that I at first thought were mites, then scabs from pecking, but they didn't respond to treatment for mites and they didn't heal (this was summer- for sure not frostbite). THEN my roosters got into it for three days, which resulted in some scabbing (they worked it out, though, lol). And then with the cold, I had been putting the bag balm on if the temp went under 10, but I think he did get a touch of frostbite on some of the smaller prongs of his comb anyway. Then my roosters had another small fight (nothing like the last three day blow out, this was a small disagreement that was over by the time I did chores one morning) so he got all scabby again. He's looking pretty rough in the comb. (I treated it, of course, by cleaning and spraying with blue coat... I love blue coat, but for some reason I can't use it without getting it all over myself, and it's hard to wash off!).

    It's supposed to be cold tonight, so I'll balm them before they go to bed.
     
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    If you are not having moisture problems in the coop, I would not use vaseline. I was having trouble early on this year as the ventilation in my coop needed some work. And they were getting frostbite at 30 degrees. I wasn't sure how to insulate my coop and kept using the vaseline. Well the stuff just dirtied up the combs something terrible. Disgusting. So I got to work and insulated and reworked the ventilation in the coop, and now that the moisture problem is solved, I am not getting any frostbite. It has gotten down to minus 2 a few nights there and the combs stay nice and healthy.

    Moisture, not the cold, is what causes frostbite. As the chickens poop and breath, just like when you can see your breath outside, if that moisture can not rise far enough above the chickens and out a vent hole, that moisture is going to fall back down on the combs and freeze them. If you have proper ventilation, that moisture gets wicked away and the combs can, with their own blood, stay warm enough to avoid frostbite.

    Good luck!
     

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