Tag / cold weather

Chickens Seasonal Care Stories from Our Nest

Jack Frost Nipping at My Coop

Earlier this week we had some of the coldest temperatures in years.  Two days ago, I awoke to find the thermometer reading 1degree F with a wind chill of -15 degrees F.  I certainly forgot how cold that truly felt.  The warnings on the TV said frostbite could happen in exposures lasting 10 minutes.

I was nervous to see how the girls were fairing in the weather.  I found the water dish in the coop was a frozen block of ice.  Some say the coop remains about 10 degrees warmer inside than outside in the night.  All I know, is that for the first time in a while, the water was frozen through.  The girls ran out into the run as usual.  They did not seem to be affected by the cold.

I then checked for eggs.  Suddenly, I heard an unexpected cracking noise.  Uh oh…what was that?  I put the lid down, revealing the weatherproofing cover I had made for the coop had become brittle and cracked; snapping into shards of little pieces.  I felt defeated.  My heart sunk.  I also knew that I needed to repair this problem before the afternoon.  Predictions said we were going to get snow and rain later in the day.  If I did not make the repair this morning, the flock would get wet.

As quickly as I could, I removed what remained of the old plastic.  My gloved fingers were like ice kabobs.  My nose was frozen and I knew that time was not on my side!  Into the house, I took some new plastic from the garage, what remained of the old original plastic and the screws.  After about 5 minutes, the plastic warmed up enough to regain flexibility.  Warm in the house, I used the old plastic as a template.  In the new plastic, I partially turned the screws into their preset locations.  Then back outside I went with my new cover.

As fast as my fingers could work, I screwed in the plastic.  It is not perfect.  Within 2 minutes of being outside, the new piece began to become very cold and lost most of it’s flexibility.  By the last screw, a corner cracked off when I mistakenly placed my hand there for leverage.  Oh well,  I thought, at least the coop is weatherproof once again.  I had a sharp reminder that I am not is Southern California anymore.  I learned what happens to plastic in the cold!  For now, the job that I did should last until Spring.  I just hope Spring does not take it’s time to arrive as it usually does on Cape Cod.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Winter has finally arrived!  BRRRRRRR.  I woke to temperatures in the high twenties.  The waterers are now iced over in the morning and the flock is hesitant to leave their warm coop to come outside for a drink.  As I was snuggled in my bed last night, I could not help and wonder if they were cold.  I have read that cold hardy birds are very tolerant to dropping temperatures.  Birds are not mammals like us and treat cold weather differently than their human friends.  I guess I should not gauge their feelings about the weather based on mine, but sometimes I can’t help it. 

I have been bringing in the waterers to the house every morning to defrost.  It only takes about a minute to remove the chunks of ice that have formed overnight.  When finally thawed, I have been filling the waterers with warm water.  As I walk outside, I can see steam rising off the water.  The chickens love it.  They love drinking the warm water.  It is as though they are having a morning cup of tea.  It must feel good inside. 

Yesterday, I also introduced them to plain warm oatmeal.  They were apprehensive at first and I’m not sure if they really liked it all that much.  They ate about half of it.  At least the girls lower in the pecking order, got their fill. 

These past few days, they have spent in the coop.  Their feather have grown in very thickly after their fall molt.  Underneath the top coat of feathers, I notice the fluffy downy feathers.  I can also report, that I am still getting eggs.  Chickens will not lay eggs when they are stressed.  So, I suppose that is also another good indicator as to their comfort level.

So for now, I am going to create a tarp for the run that will protect the area from snow, I am going to refrain from putting a heat lamp in the coop, and I am going to watch the flock’s feet, combs and wattles for signs of frostbite.  However, knowing me, I am still going to worry over this winter about the flock’s comfort.  Spring can’t come soon enough!