February 12, 2011

Chickens and arctic blast

We haven't had a lot of snow lately, but we have had some unbelievably frigid temperatures!  In the almost five years that we've lived in Colorado, this is the first time we've experienced temps so extremely cold and miserable. When faced with such arctic weather, we worry about the hens.  They have a heat lamp in the coop that is connected to a timer, which Neal set to come on every two hours for 15 minutes at a time. He also connected a dual thermometer gadget with one piece in the coop and the other in the house so we can gauge the temperature of the coop.  Most nights the girls were staying pretty warm, but there were some nights when the heat lamp just couldn't keep up. And with only three hens, they were limited in how much body heat they could produce on their own.

On the really cold, wet, windy days we worried most about their combs and wattles getting frostbite.  I had read somewhere that a good preventative was to smear Vasoline on those delicate parts.  So, that is what we did.

Vasoline may help prevent frostbite, but it does nothing for the cleanliness of the bird.  It was a magnet for dirt and grime! Ginger, being the lightest color of the three, looks particularly messy.  And no, I did not smear Vasoline on her feathered areas.  She managed to do that on her own!

And even with the use of a heat lamp and the slathering of Vasoline, I am afraid Ginger's and Cayenne's combs still got a touch of frostbite.  Nutmeg has a rose comb, which is supposed to be more resistant to frostbite.  I feel terrible for them, but they seem fine and hopefully won't suffer any ill effects.  On the bright side, it looks like the molting has stopped and new feathers have grown back on all three of them.  No more bald heads or butts!


Farmgirl_dk: said...

Ohmygosh, ohmygosh - I was freaking OUT over that first photo, thinking that it was an awful case of frostbite!! I literally exhaled so loudly when I got to the "dirt magnet" part, my husband looked at me with worry!
I know how much you must have been worrying about your girls during that crazy cold snap of yours - it sounds like you did all the right stuff to keep them safe and well!

Lilla said...

Danni..sorry to freak you out! She did look pretty bad, didn't she? I'm just hoping the Vasoline helped and there is no permanent damage. Hard to imagine such harsh temps now...it's supposed to be in the 60s today!

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

I had the same reaction as Danni when I saw that first picture! I hope their frostbite isn't severe and they recover. Poor Duke has no spikes left on his comb from all the frostbite he's gotten :( Even Pretty Boy Floyd got a little frost bite on his rose comb this year. Pico has some on the tips of his as well. I think (hope) those two boys will heal and not lose any. Amazingly, none of my hens have ever gotten frostbite. I tried the vaseline on Duke and it never seemed to prevent his :( I bet your girls are really looking forward to warmer weather!