When do chickens freeze?

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wulf
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When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182586Post wulf »

With severe snow predicted across a swathe of South England including Oxfordshire and, even without that, very icy temperatures, I wonder if anybody could suggest just how cold it can get without harming the welfare of chickens kept in a wooden coop outside?

Any tips to avoid frozen chickens would be welcome!

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John Headstrong

Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182597Post John Headstrong »

well mine are not dead yet either !

I am in central Scotland and it has not got much above 0c for over 2 weeks, with about 2 foot of snow.

The chickens are now in the polytunnel with the coop connected so they can get in and out.

They have been fine, in fact they started laying again once I put them in the tunnel run, but have now slowed back down again.
you have to check the water at least twice a day because it is just a block of ice and they do get thirsty.


also stoney has commented on his chickens recently, and he is getting more snow than me! (and has more chickens)
http://stonehead.wordpress.com/2009/12/ ... -chickens/

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182604Post indy »

I've been at -7 for a while and they have been fine..not laying so much but who can blame them, they are fossicking about in the field very normally
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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182652Post Millymollymandy »

I was worried about the one I have in isolation at the moment because she doesn't have any other hens to huddle up to at night but she's fine, she is big and fluffy anyway and every time I've treated her feet they have been warm (though that might be the infection!).
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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182654Post contadina »

They should be okay in their coop. If it's really cold during the day they'll stay inside and huddle up just like they do if if it's too wet. Mix their food with warm water and a wee drop of vinegar in their water is good if they pick up any cold-like symptoms. If temperatures turn Arctic you could put a red light into their coop.

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182655Post wulf »

Thanks for all that advice. Now to find my snowshoes and make the trek across the snowy wastes of the garden to check on them!

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182670Post shell »

mine at present seem ok but i am worried about the ex batts,2 have bald patches still ,the thing i`m concerned about most is their water,as soon as i fill it up it freezes again,and instead of a dust bath they now have an ash bath where i am tipping the ash from the fire into a corner for them,i now have a lot of very grey/red chickens and the blackrock has turned dark grey too,but i hear its good for them.

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182677Post vancheese »

What does the vinegar in the water do?

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182682Post contadina »

Vinegar is good for respiratory problems so helps them shake coughs and wheezes.

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182686Post Millymollymandy »

Hmmm my cat has pretty constant respiratory problems (vets think possibly a summer allergy like hayfever but the fact he's suffering this winter so maybe it isn't :dontknow: ) - can I put some in his water too? I've heard of it being given to horses and chickens but not cats.
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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182697Post vancheese »

Can we expand this and ask what animals this is good/bad for?
(I've sheep, dogs but will have pigs, rabbits and chickens when it warms up)

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182707Post contadina »

I just spoke with dad (who worked on farms for around 50 years) and he reckons it helps most animals and birds with colds, arthritis, controls fleas & barn flies, and gives a beautiful shine to their coats! For rabbits he said give them around 3ml for every 500 ml of water all year round. A tablespoon for larger animals.

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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 182770Post Millymollymandy »

Thanks Contadina I think I might try that for my cat.
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)
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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 183219Post Stonehead »

We regularly have temperatures down to -15C in winter and have three to four feet of snow, sometimes for weeks, but out chickens thrive.

One of the key things is to have relatively confined housing, preferably with low headroom. You don't want the chickens to be overcrowded or forced to duck their heads, but you wanted them perched just under the roof in the warmest air. Their perch should be above the height of the pophole to keep them above cold draughts. You want just enough space for them to move about, and to fit a feeder and waterer inside (but not where droppings are going to foul them). The bigger the space the chickens are in, the colder they will be. (If your chickens are in a large house relative to the number of chickens, reduce the space with boards until the weather improves.)

Make sure there's a good layer of bedding on the floor, to act as insulation and for the chickens to scratch in if it's too cold to go outside. I like to have the house about six inches off the ground, then block the sides in, as this provides an air gap for insulation. However, you need to check under the house regularly as rats like to move in.

A lay of insulation under the roof also helps, but can provide a home for red mite. You have to balance the risks and, in less cold places than ours, you should be able to get away without the insulation.

Wooden pophole doors on wooden runners get damp, swell and then freeze in place. Plastic or metal runners, rubbed with a little grease or lard, will reduce the risk. But it's worth having a blow torch or weed wand to thaw the door if it freezes in place. (Just be careful not to burn the house down!)

If the chickens enter and leave their house via a ramp, make sure you de-ice it before opening the pophole. Even though they can usually flap themselves to a safe landing, chickens will get caught out by a slippery ramp and can be injured.

If the ground is frozen, put down some straw, wood chips or shavings for them to stand on and scratch in. It doesn't need to be a large area—just enough for all your chickens to move about on.

If the ground is covered in snow that's more than an inch deep, sweep or shovel it away to make a scratching area and strew that with straw, wood chops or shavings. A handful or two of feed scattered on the area will help keep the chickens happy. (Not too much or birds will take it, especially as the chickens won't stay out for long stretches of time.)

If you have glass bottle waterers, never fill them more than half full when you're expecting sub-zero temperatures. They will shatter as the water freezes and expands. And even half full they may still shatter.

We've found that the plastic used in many waterers gets brittle in sub-zero conditions and will shatter at the slightest provocation. We usually place frozen ones in a bucket of warm water to thaw, then refill them.

Metal waterers and troughs are best in really cold conditions. You can thaw them with a blowtorch or over a camp stove, or you can chip the ice out (we use an old tack hammer).

When the temperature stays below zero for more than three days, we up the morning feed by 10 per cent. We also give the chickens mixed corn about half an hour before dark—one of the mixes with maize. This heats them up and keeps them warm overnight. Don't do this year round or you'll get fat chickens.

If you're in an area that's genuinely cold most winters, consider your breeds carefully. Some are hardier than others. We have Scots Greys: they're as tough as old boots, and go out in almost all weathers—even blizzards. They still need good husbandry but they have an extra chance of surviving. We also have ISA Browns and they're also quite robust, although they prefer to stay inside or only make brief forays outside in bad weather.

We do all of the above and have very happy chickens. When I go out of a morning and it's -13C with three feet of snow on the ground, I do their chicken chores in order of: clear ground, strew straw, scatter feed, clear waterers and fill with tepid water (much appreciated by chickens), fill feeders, and finally open the pophole. The chickens have their warm drink, in pecking order, then make happy chook noises as they go out. About 15 minutes later, most return inside for breakfast.

But if I get the order wrong, if the drinking water is cold, or if it's blowing a hoolie when they venture out, then I'm treated to the scolding chicken noises: "tut, tut, this really isn't good enough!"
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Re: When do chickens freeze?

Post: # 183220Post wulf »

Very informative and reassuring. Fortunately conditions aren't nearly that cold down here and the parameters of shelter, etc, seem to be keeping the chickens happy (and laying).

Wulf
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