So I recently de winterized the ladies coop. Not too much has happened in the last few months.
I am glad I did not heat the coop over the winter because the birds are accustomed to the weather now and aren't phased by cold temps. They also laid all winter without any additional light source!
I will sum up a long story to pass along some good information...due to a pit bull attack -(only feathers were lost) the girls were locked up a lot while we attempted to catch the dogs in a live trap. During this Roxanne took her frustrations out on Frenchy plucking her head bald.
So what has really helped is Blu-Kote. It's a spray on wound disinfectant. It turns everything purple (including your hands so wear gloves). It's really good at hiding blood which is important because once blood is drawn on a chicken then the pecking gets worse. This has protected Frenchy's head and now feather growth is starting again.
So, I learned that Roxanne has an overblown sense of her own importance and Frenchy is definitely at the bottom of the pecking order. I read that to correct this bad behavior Rox needed to be removed from the flock for at least 3 days.
First, I locked her in a large pet carrier, but there wasn't enough room to lay. I went soft and let her out after a day and that night she laid two eggs at once, one of which was deformed and gooey.
Then we tried to keep her in a fenced in area in our backyard but she flew over the 6 foot enclosure. So, I've given up for the moment. If she gets worse I will buy a bigger dog cage and confine her.
She's been given a good talking to and for better or worse I'm letting them all out despite the lack of fence and lurking dogs...
I apologize for the crappy photo, but I just wated to share a few things I did to hopefully make the girls a bit happier during this cold snap.
1. I put a long branch inside so the hens can perch off the ground and hopefully help warm their toes.
2. I also hung a head of cabbage for them to peck at and play with. At first they were afraid of it, but after they discovered it was edible...all bets were off! I got this idea from About.com. However, now after 2 days its frozen! So I need to get a new one.
3. The last thing I read recently was to feed the chickens right before they go to bed. The digesting food helps to keep them warm overnight..cracked corn was suggested which I don't have so, I fed mine warm oatmeal.
The board is there to hide the cord. I figured they'd mistake it for a worm!
So, two days ago I went out to check the chickens and found their water in a block of ice. It was so frozen I couldn't even get the metal fountain apart so I had to boil a pot of water to melt the fountain.
Even though this made me feel like I was getting into the nitty gritty of being a chicken-mom. I decided this is not what I want to do every morning so, I splurged and bought a heated pan.
I really wanted to try a DIY heater, but my hubby advised against it.
The new set up is NICE. The water is actually warm.
HOWEVER now I'm dealing with high humidity in the coop. I bought a new thermometer/ humidity combo to measure the temps. I have not been able to get the levels down, but I'm experimenting. It reads from 70% to about 90%.
I've read that high humidity in the cold is what helps cause frostbite. My concern is Pearl's massive comb. I put petroleum jelly on it because I read that this helps prevent frostbite. All it seems to have done is make her extremely dirty and unhappy.
She already had discoloration at the tips, but now I can't tell if its dirt or what? What I really want to do is put her in the bathtub and scrub her head.
Anyway, here's a good link from Backyard Chickens on WINTER COOP TEMPERATURES
One more thing: I've noticed their laying schedule changed when this cold snap started. Ginger skipped a day and this morning I saw Pearl in the nest box before the sun was even out...
So the chickens are experiencing their first snow...I can tell they don't love it...after a period of time they just run back to the coop to thaw their little toes. I've been keeping them locked up more often lately because Mark actually saw them get semi-attacked by a hawk two weeks ago. A fallen tree prevented the hawk from getting low enough to snatch one. Really, until we get our fence finished it’s a gamble letting them out, but it’s hard to watch them stuck in the run behind a fence. My biggest concern with this weather was Pearls comb and wattles since
they’re HUGE I read that they can get frost bite. The prevention for frostbite
is to slather on Vaseline. She seems fine so far.
By the way chickens eat ANYTHING. For example: Ice melt.
Well, what im supposed to be doing right now is finishing our guest room. By finishing I mean painting and by painting I mean !HELP! Actually it's turning out pretty awesome.
Yesterday, Mark helped me throw my desk out over our porch railing smashing it to bits! Yea!(it was a 30 dollar special from Walmart the kind that would bubble if I tried to paint it)
Out with the old and in with the new...
The Beau Coop from Neiman Marcus. For a mere 100,000 you too can purchase this lush chicken palace for your beloved ladies! Complete with library and a chandelier.
I'm making some butternut squash soup and I'm giving the girls the seeds.
Here's a great link for Chicken Treats from Backyardchickens.com. that I reference from time to time just to make sure my treats are "chicken friendly"
Also we figured out that Pearl is our little egg layer. She's cranking 'em out now.
The age old question, What came first the chicken or the egg?" In my case has been solved: The chicken definetly came first!
Yes, while putting leaves I bagged up today on the shelf inside the coop I discovered I left the screen down and I found a little white egg sitting in a
pile of straw! I'm almost positive it had to have been laid between yesterday and today. I'm definetly going to eat it.
Alot has happened in the last 4 months. I spent the summer reinforcing the coop with buried wire all around the outside and also had a plastic mesh roof that I changed out for chicken wire. I also biult the shelf inside (with a lot of help from Mark of course) and after the chickens pooped all over my stuff, I biult a screen to keep them out. I also upgraded them from home depot bucket feeders to creep feeders and I bought a 3 gal metal waterer that will hang on the inside as soon as my hubby will help me rig it up.
The most important thing I learned: DO NOT let the chickens eat out of anything made of glass. Thankfully I was outside when my pyrex dish shattered. The only casualty was a small cut on Roxannes leg.