Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cold, Cold, Cold

It has been a while since my last post, I appologize.  I read a lot of info about raising chickens online and sometimes feel reposting what I have learned is redundant because someone else wrote about it.  I will try to do better in sharing information I find valuable.

It's that time of year when I wrap my coop to keep the girls out of snow and blowing wind, and boy, has it blown this year!  I had to re-wrap it twice because the wind tore it all off.  It's not attractive but it provides protection from snow getting inside and cold drafts.  One important thing to keep in mind is ventilation.  I leave the top open to allow for that ventilation.  Decomposing manure gives off amonia and it can become dangerous to the chickens health if it is allowed to build up.  Moisture build up also can lead to respiratory illnesses which can devistate a coop of hens quickly.

One other thing I do in the winter is scooping out manure and wood shavings and throwing them into the run.  I know some people use the deep litter method in the henhouse, mine is so small I feel they are better served with all that decomposing manure in the run.

My henhouse is 4X4 and my run is 4X8.  I have 6 hens, they do a good job keeping each other warm at night.  They roost together and I find it interesting they almost always roost in the same order.  I guess they have their best friends that they like to be with.  I haven't seen any frostbite on combs yet (knock on wood), I've been known to check their feet and I am always amazed at how warm they stay with their breast feathers covering their feet.

I use a little giant 125 watt heated pedestal to keep their water fount thawed.  Boy, is that a life saver.  I know they seem a bit pricey but when I got that and didn't have to thaw water each day I was in heaven.

One other thing I have begun doing this year is making suet blocks for them.  I've read several articles and posts and it is so easy.  Whenever we make bacon or fry hamburger or do anything cooking that produces a melted grease, I'll save that and while in a liquid state, I'll combine it with scratch, maybe some oatmeal...just about anything that you know they will like.  I do focus on some of the higher fat items and will toss in some sunflower seeds as well.  The corn-heavy scratch is good to keep them warm.

Here is a link to a step-by-step way of doing it that you may find helpful:  http://www.communitychickens.com/2013/01/cake-for-chickens.html#.UqiKc-Ia71Y.