Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Winter challenges with Chickens

Worst Winter in a while for the North Cascades

'Harriet' may be ready to attend her first garden party of spring, but my current flock is just happy to see 48-degree temperatures and melting snow. Me too!
Power outages, ice everywhere and road conditions that ramped the stress up to heart attack level brought to mind a vision of Florida, except for the lack of gorgeous far-away snow covered mountain tops and evergreen trees. Funny how you get so attached to a specific topography.

Good news, my chickens are doing well! Fortunately, my chicken coop is insulated with tar paper between the siding and wall. Temps got down to about 20 degrees some nights, and water had to be changed more often, but, like they say, excess heat is worse for chickens than cold.

It wasn't cold enough to cause frost-bite of the single combed roosters, that probably happens more  on the east coast, or eastern Washington.  You probably know to rub the combs with a little Vaseline, if it's super cold where you are.

I feed my birds more scratch than normal when it's cold, they need extra carbs to keep their body heat up.

It was nerve wracking to see a red fox circling my place, but so far, no winter predator losses.

This is the first winter in more than a decade where I live with so much snow, and for so long a time. With 4-wheel drive snow isn't that hard to drive in; just have to watch out for the 'hot-shots' that pass you by like you're standing still - they slow traffic when they wind up in the ditch or wrapped around a pole within a couple of miles. The ice is really treacherous, though,especially on steel bridges.

Even though winter hasn't completely said 'adios', a lot of people I know have decided to get started with chickens. Problem is, they can't get to the feed store early enough . . . baby chick shipments are selling out in just a few hours! Spring has definitely almost 'sprung'.

Everyone wants Rhode Island Reds! Great layers, that's for sure.

If you shop at the feed store for baby chicks be sure to learn what the baby chicks of the breed you want look like - before you shop. Sometimes they have 8 or 10 tubs, and when one is almost empty they combine the breeds to keep all of them warm. You can find pictures of the adults and babies on the websites of a lot of the hatcheries. You won't want to end up with broilers if you're only interested in eggs.

Happy Spring and Fun Chicken Keeping!

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