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Oh, no, snow!

(70 Posts)
ilovehens Thu 25-Nov-10 22:47:59

My poor chickens are just sitting in the coop looking miserable sad

They didn't even venture outside to eat their rice and sweetcorn.

My cochin is moulting and my orpington is absolutely terrified of the snow - it's her first year, so she hasn't been through a winter before.

How are your chickens coping with this weather?

I have found that some warm ready brek or porridge cheers them up. Add some cheap mixed fruit for flavour.

amummyinwaiting Thu 25-Nov-10 23:02:57

We do the readybrek too!
Its not snowing here just bitterly cold.
To see them thru the night ours have got extra hay and a stone hot water bottle to take the chill off.
And although 3 are fine and snuggled up together one is sullking (we got two new ones and she doesnt like them) the other side of the coop so she's now tucked upin a straw filled cat basketin the utility room

BeenBeta Thu 25-Nov-10 23:28:15

Good thread.

At what stage should I be worrying about my chickens being harmed by the cold at night?

saltyseadog Fri 26-Nov-10 08:20:32

I've been fretting about this as well. At present they all seem to be squeezing into the nest box - which is annoying as it ends up being a PITA to clear out and we end up with poo covered eggs - but also understandable!

I will go and cook them some porridge now.

babalon Fri 26-Nov-10 19:26:03

I'm glad I'm not the only one to make batches of porridge for my chucks!!
Whats a stone hot water bottle?

ChickensHaveNoMercyForTurkeys Fri 26-Nov-10 19:30:16

My girls are getting porridge before bedtime liberally laced with poultry spice and raisins/mixed corn. Always appreciated grin BeenBeta, earlier this year it got down to -12 where I am and the girls were fine. I just made sure they had some high energy feed before bed, and lots of extra bedding to snuggle down in to. They are very resilient.

BeenBeta Fri 26-Nov-10 21:07:50

Chickens - thank you. It has been colder last year than at present but just planning ahead. They are my landlords chickens (pics on profile) and live in my garden so I feel responsible and TBH he is not always very diligent in looking after them.

He forgot to break the ice on their water. By the time I got there they had been without water all day. I will be out early maybe with something warming to eat and a kettle to melt the water.

amummyinwaiting Fri 26-Nov-10 22:50:07

A stone hot water bottle is a victorian-ish thing. Its bottle shaped but with a hole in it with a screw cap and you just fillit with hot water. I pop it in to warm up the air for them and then put a wheatie in a plastic bag in there basket.
BeenBeta I'm sure I read somewhere that you shouldnt give chikens defrosted water but I cant remember why!

BeenBeta Fri 26-Nov-10 22:57:01

Really? No defrosted water?

OK, I'll make sure its fresh.

beachyhead Fri 26-Nov-10 23:46:45

What's poultry spice????

LilyBolero Fri 26-Nov-10 23:50:16

Cat food - get some beef in jelly cat food, sprinkle some poultry spice and add some corn. Is a great pick-me-up and really helps keep them warm!

ChickensHaveNoMercyForTurkeys Sat 27-Nov-10 11:22:46

Poultry spice is a mineral supplement you can get from feed merchants and maybe pets at home. It smells strongly of aniseed. I give it to mine as a top dressing on their pellets when they're in moult and also when it's freezing as it warms their crops. I don't give mine any meat products, but many people do as Lily says.

ilovehens Sat 27-Nov-10 16:46:20

Thanks for all the responses. I'm pleased that I'm not the only one who worries.

I've run out of ready brek now because the kids have eaten it sad. Will go to the shops tomorrow.

I forgot about the cat food. I have plenty of that and poultry spice.

I like the idea about the hot stone bottle. I'm relying on straw at the moment and I have their coop covered over with a plastic greenhouse. I have an Ikea lantern that I put a tealight into and that's enough to stop the coop from freezing.

My poor cochin has no tail feathers now shock. She'd better stop this moult soon or I'm going to have to knit her a jacket!!!

ilovehens Sat 27-Nov-10 16:47:56

BeenBeta - you don't need to worry too much about them getting cold, it's the damp that they hate. Birds are find as long as they don't become wet.

saltyseadog Sat 27-Nov-10 17:11:08

What about those hen saddles? I know they're largely to stop hens suffering from too much ....ahem...activity, but do they add any warmth?

Just about to serve up the evening porridge!

ilovehens Sat 27-Nov-10 17:30:59

Oh, heck, I'd never be able to get one of those on her. She hates being handled.

She was fine in the snow last year, but this year she seems so frightened.

BeenBeta Sat 27-Nov-10 17:52:45

My black hen wasn't eating this morning. She has been coughing/sneezing all summer but I dont think she will make it past the winter.

The others tucked in to warm porridge this morning but she just stood there hunched up.

sethstarkaddersmum Sat 27-Nov-10 18:00:04

oh you lot are all giving your hens porridge made specially for them are you? grin Mine get leftover porridge when dcs don't finish theirs, was thinking of making them some specially but thought that would be ridiculously soft of me.
Will do them a big bowl tomorrow morning. With raisins smile

I've tied a groundsheet over half of their Eglu run to make more of a shelter for them, but today I realised they've found a nice warm area round the side of the house where the central heating vent comes out so the snow had melted and they were hanging out happily there.

BeenBeta Sat 27-Nov-10 18:13:55

Hope no one minds me asking a slightly peripheral question.

The cockerel I have is quite a brute. He really batters the hens. I euthenased one hen in the summer and another may go soon. That leaves two hens. I think that is too few. How many hens should a cockerel have with him as a minimum?

He started with six oldish hens when he was a teenager but now is in his prime.

ilovehens Sat 27-Nov-10 18:22:18

I think you need more than two! I'd say about 6 is okay, preferably more, if you can manage to keep that many.

Your black hen might just need some antibiotics. Sounds like mycoplasma to me. I had a light sussex who was sick like that and she had some oxytetracycline and has been fine since.

sethstarkaddersmum - my kids eat all their readybrek, so I have to make fresh for the hens. In fact, I didn't even buy the packet of readybrek for the kids, it was for the hens and the kids came into the kitchen and started asking for it! grin

SuePurblybiltByElves Sat 27-Nov-10 18:25:05

My last two girls (were late hatches in August, poor wee things) are horrified at the snow. I have no porridge but am considering ready brek grin

ilovehens Sat 27-Nov-10 20:27:36

Readybrek is okay, but a bit fluffy and it goes everywhere when you open the bag hmm the kids won't eat porridge though, so that's the next best thing.

sethstarkaddersmum Sat 27-Nov-10 21:41:17

saltyseadog - re the hen saddles, I would imagine that they would stop the hen from fluffing up her feathers properly and she might end up colder with one than without.
this is purely guesswork though, I know nothing!
I do notice my hens look fluffier in the cold so I think they are fluffing themselves up.

ChickensHaveNoMercyForTurkeys Sun 28-Nov-10 09:18:38

I wouldn't use saddles for warmth. A hens body temp. is around 104F, so with the feathers they are usually very well insulated. The problem with saddles over any length of time is that they tend to make the perfect breeding ground for parasites, and that's something you want to avoid at all costs particularly in the winter.

BeenBeta, definitely get your boy some more girls. He'll terrorise the two you've got and he might do some serious damage. They're game birds, right? I remember you posting before about the landlord just dumping them hmm

ChickensHaveNoMercyForTurkeys Sun 28-Nov-10 09:20:10

Just a quick note re Ready Brek. You can buy very cheap basic porridge oats which is better for the hens, because they don't process salt. Plus, Ready Brek is far too nice to waste on chickens wink

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