Tag Archives: taking care of chickens in the winter

Lesson 1203 – I give up

It is currently snowing and the forecast is for the snow to continue until tomorrow morning.

The kids are home for yet *another* snow day cancellation.

The college where I teach has cancelled classes again. Continue reading

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Lesson 1201 – Necessary Winter Equipment for Backyard Chickens

Minus 10 this morning. More snow is predicted for later tonight and tomorrow with a total of about 4 additional inches expected to fall. Yesterday I picked up two blocks of suet (with berries and nuts) for the flock, if ever there was a time for an energy/calorie boost, I’d say it’s now.

I’ve spoken many times about cold weather care for a backyard flock. The birds need protection from the wind, bars on which to roost, thawed water, and a bit of extra fat calories. After years of writing about this, it comes to mind that I’ve forgotten to mention a very important piece of equipment essential for winter backyard chicken care. Continue reading

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Lesson 1200 – Peregrine Falcons and Gas Pipelines

Quick update. The snow has stopped and now comes the task of shoveling out. School was cancelled and my kids think it means *another* day of staying in their jammies and getting caught up on Downton Abbey.

Not so fast, my little poppets. Oh yes, we have plenty of snow plows in our family, we have 6 strong sturdy ones. Suit up kids, hot chocolate and TV rewards only after your work is done.

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As many of you recall, this summer we were visited by a large bird of prey. I found it sitting in our yard twice and then one day, I saw it flying off with our beautiful Sebright bantam – Isabelle.

In the past I’ve seen plenty of hawks in our wooded area. In fact, over the years, we have watched a family of Red Tail hawks grow and mature (it turns out that adolescent hawks, much like adolescent humans, tend to be very mouthy, making quite sure all know that they are around.) Hawks are beautiful and definitely have a kind of majesty about them, which is all well and good, as long as they keep that majesty away from my chickens.

But I didn’t think that that was what we had here. Continue reading

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Lesson 1190 – Caring for the flock when it’s ridiculously cold

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The temps have really dropped around here. We live in an older house that just can’t keep back the cold and when the thermometer dips into the single and negative digits, everyone (even the dog) starts wearing shawls and fingerless gloves inside the house. (We call it the season of Bob Cratchit.)

If it’s this cold in the house, it must be brutal in the coop. Although the chickens know what to do, (they really do) when it’s this cold there are a few things you can check in order to make things as comfortable as possible for your chickens. Continue reading

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Lesson 1188 – Strike that pose

My daughter is home sick from school, nothing too terrible, but enough to justify a day or two of taking it easy (and hopefully not infecting others.) The rule in our house though, is that unless you are incapacitated by illness (or passing a kidney stone which, unfortunately one of our kids did this weekend) you have to get up and move.

No one gets to spend the day in bed, just because you have the sniffles. It’s always been clear to me – the more you act sick, the more sick you will act.

So, I make mild to moderately sick kids get out of their beds and at the very least, dress in comfortable clothes and come downstairs to get something to eat and watch TV or a movie. And if I don’t think they are moving enough I give them “chores” to do. (It’s not that I’m such a mean mom, but one of the problems my asthmatic kids can get into is lung trouble when they don’t move around enough and force deep breaths during illness.)

This morning, I asked Addy to go out to the hen house to get a few chicken photos for me.

On the way, she grabbed the jar of freeze dried meal worms from the counter. She figured that if she gave the birds some of the treats, they would then politely pose for a photo in exchange.

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What Addy didn’t realize was that chickens *love* meal worms and while she did get photos of the chickens, she quickly discovered that no posing goes on when meal worms are anywhere in the picture. Continue reading

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Lesson 1186 – A little of this, a little of that, and #JeSuisCharlie

It’s a busy day for me and so I’ll do a quick post with a few catch-ups in it.

First it’s my birthday. At a certain point in your life, birthdays become more contemplative than celebratory (but that’s not to say I am not grateful for every day I have on this earth.)

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This is me as a (very) young chick. People think I have large cheeks because of my English background, but I know it’s really because there wasn’t a day that went by without at least 5 people pinching my cheeks.

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And this is me on my way to play tennis this birthday morning. The temps are frigid, but I donned my little tennis skirt and let people know that I still have it.

With regard to the cold and chickens – I addressed this in yesterday’s post. I want to especially emphasize that heaters are NOT needed in a coop – even when it’s bitter cold. Chickens know how to fend for themselves and it’s too easy for a chicken to hop on the top of a heater, be startled by its heat and scurry off, knocking the heater off balance. Please, please, please, do not use heaters. Continue reading

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Lesson 1185 – Extreme cold weather precautions for the flock

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We’ve entered into a dangerously low cold snap in New Hampshire.

Just a reminder that if you have chickens, when it gets very cold like this, there are a few precautions you can take to ensure their welfare.

  • Make sure your flock has an area that is windproof. If they can roost together and are free of the wind they should be fine.
  • Speaking of roosts, make sure that you have enough space on your bars for all flock members to take a perch. Sitting on the floor of the coop will not serve the birds well as they will lose too much body heat. Wooden roosts are what they need, never metal ones.
  • Consider giving the flock a bit of extra fat (not tons, we want healthy birds – not birds that need to go on a diet.) Put a seed block (on top of a concrete block so that it doesn’t absorb water from below) in the coop yard and/or throw in a few blocks of chopped up suet. I regularly give my flock some suet every other week in the winter, but when it is bitterly cold, I give them some extra. The reason for the fat is that in the extreme cold, these chickens are burning up extra calories, a bit of fat (which is high in calories) gives them a bit of an energy bump (this is the same reason we crave heavier and heartier foods in the winter, our bodies are telling us we need more fat.)
  • Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink. When the temps dip, water freezes. Although chickens peck at snow, they don’t “eat” snow (certainly not enough to satisfy their water requirements.) Make sure the flock has access to melted water (it doesn’t have to be warm, just melted) at all times. For us, who don’t have electricity in our coop, this means we run a heavy-duty extension cord through our backyard and have it hooked up to the water heater in the coop.
  • I know it’s tempting but please refrain from using a heater in the coop. Honestly, if you’ve done the above, your flock won’t need any additional support and I’ve heard of too many hen house fires to ever justify a heater in a backyard coop.

Continue reading

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