First Snow for RI Red Girls

This picture is actually mouse tracks leading to the chicken run door! The first snow our girls experienced started with a scroungy little critter trying to find shelter in last nights storm! It managed to squeeze it’s way through the corner of the run doorway, up the chicken ladder and somehow through the corner of the chicken door into the coop!

Call us surprised when we went into the coop to refill food and water to find a mouse darting around with the chickens chasing it! It was still pretty dark so the chickens were sleepy but trying to catch the little monster! After about 5 minutes of a game of chase I opened the chicken door and let the scared to death vermin out!

Needless to say we are now making sure that at least the coop door is super tightly closed at night.

As the sun came up the girls finally got to experience their very first snow outside. I don’t think they were very impressed. They wouldn’t even touch it! Avoiding anything white! It didn’t take long for them to starting back into the Tajma coop where it’s always toasty and comfortable.

Begging to Free Range

It’s been one small snow storm after another and the ladies are fed up! Every time I go to refill their outdoor water they are crowded against the door begging to get out! Since the only area that’s been clear of snow is this part of their run, I’ll open the door, they’ll get a foot out until they hit the snow and screech to a halt. Then it’s impossible to get them back in! Poor ladies!

But today is a different day! The temperature is over freezing and there is a clear trail up to barn where the heat radiates and creates a warm, dry spot right in front of it. Yay! So today I don’t have to say no. I don’t have to look at those disappointed faces and I won’t get pecked as I’m changing their water. That’s right, being COOPED UP is a saying for a reason! These little monsters take out their frustration on you!

Anyway, there will be no further delay…….AND THEY’RE OFF!

Don’t Touch the Snow!

Winter is not a good time for the girls. It’s usually too cold and/or too wet for them.They are a fair weather flock. Even after enticing them with sliced carrots they still only eat the ones they can reach away from the snow.

I always see pictures and stories about how chickens tolerate cold weather and even in places where temperatures have dropped to -20 degrees! Chickens can be comfortable until it reaches 20 below. The only minor issue that can happen is when their comb or waddles get frostbite. It’s minor and superficial, peeling off in a week or so. So while chickens all over the world are free ranging in a few inches of snow, my chickens refuse to touch it! They would rather crowd each other until they get on each other’s nerves and then start pecking on each other.

Oh, I suppose I could shovel more snow out of the way but the ground below is too frozen and not good on their little feet. Besides, there is so much to do around here that it always falls to the end of the list.

Suck it up girls! Spring will be here before you know it!

What the ladies avoid the slow on their YouTube channel:

Surprisingly Cold!

I’ve decided the ladies are fair weather girls. I’ve also decided their coop must be the Tajmahal because when the weather isn’t perfect they would rather stay inside! Maybe we need to spend less time cleaning it? Make it less hospitable?
Ladies, it’s important for you to get outside in the winter. You need fresh air and exercise to lay eggs! We haven’t seen but a couple eggs a week this winter!  Get your act together!

During the last couple snow storms we didn’t let them outside because it was frostbite weather. When it finally stopped snowing, we shoveled the snow out of the way and opened their door. They came storming out with excitement until they came to edge of the snow, and then turned around and went right back inside!

Ladies, ladies! Sitting in the coop all winter is only going to fatten you up and make you look delicious! And if you aren’t laying eggs and looking tasty you may not be here much longer!

Watch the ladies reaction when they finally get outside after a couple days cooped up on this video from their YouTube Channel:

 

Frozen Chicken Run Again

Not Again!
This is the second spring snow and this time the ice on the top of the run grew so thick it collapsed the framework holding the top fencing up. Time to replace the frame with meta piping.The girls wouldn’t come out of the coop until they could see the sun. Luckily it only took a day.

 

Chickens in an Arctic Freeze

There are days I hate the weather man. He is so excited talking about the record breaking low temperatures coming our way with no regard for people like me who can’t bring their animals inside the house for protection!  Well….we already have heating panels, but how warm will they keep the coop when it’s a snowy negative 7 degrees outside?! My motherly instincts kicked in and I started to worry so much I couldn’t concentrate on anything but my girls.

I did a lot of online research on frostbite and most agreed it’s the humidity that increases the chances of frostbite, not the cold temperature. We got outdoor remote sensor thermometers with humidistat capability so now I could see what the temperature and humidity is both outside and inside the coop.

Something else I read is giving chickens high calorie, fatty foods will increase the body temperature and help them stay warmer. Those spoiled girls were in heaven! I think their favorite was when I made them warm oatmeal and threw in some chopped up apples we had frozen from our trees.

The freeze ran over 2 days and I hardly slept for 2 days. It seemed like every hour I was checking the temperature. When the temperature outside started dropping way below the temperature inside the of the coop, the humidity inside the coop soared to 94%! Yikes! This is why you don’t want to overheat the coop. The bigger the difference between the inside and the outside, the higher the humidity. I suffered all night wondering what I was going to find in the morning. Surprisingly, they were up, moving around ready for breakfast, not shivering in a corner.

I would not let the girls out of coop until those 2 days were over. They were so frustrated they started to peck at each other requiring me to pull out the chicken saddles again! They were soooooo ready to be out of there!

Finally, once the temperature was 9 degrees outside on the third morning, we got out before the sun came up and snow shoveled a path to the coop, then shoveled out a large area in the run. We covered the frozen ground with straw the so the girls could walk around without freezing their toes. As the sun started to come up I scattered chicken scratch, opened the chicken door and watched the happy girls escape their coop for the first time in 2 days! It was Glorious!

I learned a lot about what to do and not do for chickens in freezing weather and won’t need to stress out anymore!

See  how happy the girls are when they finally get outside on their YouTube channel:

 

First Snow

chicken-snow-prints

One of the biggest surprises I had when I watched the chickens grow up was how enormous their feet are! They really are BIG! Seeing their first footprints in the snow made me laugh so hard you can see one of the girls looking at me as if asking “What’s the matter with you?!”

Luckily we knew ahead of time when the first snow of the season was coming. The girls had been having such a long summer and the temperature never dropped below 40 degrees. They predicted temperatures to go up to 80 degrees and then drop to 15 degrees overnight! Poor girls could not physically handle that kind of change without help. A lot of people had ads up trying to quickly sell their chickens before the snow came. I think the hobby backyard chicken people were a little overwhelmed over how to take care of their chickens in the winter!

We quickly jumped into action. We first pulled out the red heating lamps we got when they were baby chicks. We definitely needed heat since the girls haven’t been under 40 degrees. We need to slowly wean them down to the high 20s which I understand is very normal for them to live in. Looking at the hanging lights, I remembered the chicken that flew up into the tree a couple weeks earlier. I could see our crazy girls trying to land on the lights and shattering them. I definitely don’t want them to start the coop on fire!

Hubby researched the latest heating technology and found thin flat panel heaters that looked like a TV! I’m impressed! Not too expensive either. Bought a couple, tried them out and they ended up being a great addition to the Tajmacoop!

The snow came and the temperature dropped to 15 degrees. The coop temperature however, was at 33 degrees. Yay!

To keep with our regular daily schedule, I got a large cup full of cracked corn, tossed it just outside the chicken door, then opened the door for the hens. Like usual, the hens came running out. Looking at the snow in shock, they pecked a little, had a hard time finding the corn, gave up and went running back inside!

So I set the girls up for a day inside and tossed chicken crack all over the floor of the coop. They starting scratching and kicking up a cloud! I quickly shut them up and went to work. Hubby got home before me and when I pulled up he had a warning. “It looks like Los Angeles in there!” Those chickens had kicked up so much dust I’m surprised they could breath!

Mental note, put snacks in a pan next time!