Tag Archives: Temperature

6 Great Ways to Get Your Chicken Coop Ready For Winter

When it starts getting cold, the chickens need a little extra T.L.C. to keep up egg production. Winterizing your coop can help keep the chickens happy, healthy and producing.

How you winterize your coop depends on your geographic location. For instance, those that live in the Midwest will see temperatures dip into the negatives, and their coops will need more care compared to those who live in the Pacific Northwest or the South.

No matter where you live, you will have to do some winter chores to keep your chickens clucking merrily along.

6 Ways to Winterize Your Coop

1. Clean Bedding

Ensuring that the chickens have fresh bedding such as straw or wood shavings to lay and roost on will prevent frost bite. For our coop, we like to use hay for our bedding, especially in the wintertime because it retains heat better. This will keep them more active during the day as well as control the smell of chicken droppings until your Spring cleaning. Move all soiled bedding to the compost pile to compost down for Spring or Summer gardens.

2. Coop Inspection

Check out the coop to ensure that predators have not found an entry in. Predators are usually more desperate to find food during winter and you want to protect your flock. During this time, I also like to check the roof of the coop to make sure there aren’t any cracks or holes. As well, check out the roosts and any other furniture to make sure it is still in good condition.

3. Batten the Hatches

During the warmer summer months having vents and hatches on the coop’s roof and floorboard assist with airflow, help to reduce humidity and any toxic ammonia from the hen house. During winter it is best to fasten the vents and hatches to reduce any cold drafts. Another solution is to wrap a portion of the coop with a tarp or plastic sheeting. This keeps moisture out of the coop, protects it from wind and further insulates it. 4-mil polyethylene film is low cost and readily available. Secure it to the chicken coop to ensure that moisture and wind cannot get through. Again, we want to ensure that the chicken’s body temperature stays at an optimum temperature.

4. Heat Lamps

Keep in mind that young chickens will require more body heat compared to a fully grown chicken. Further, the avian reproductive cycle, which is how a hen produces eggs, is stimulated in poultry by increasing day length. 14 hours of light is what a chicken requires to lay eggs and usually get these results during the warmer months. Having a light bulb hooked up to a timer can assist in continued egg laying. An added benefit to this is it creates added warmth to the flock. To provide some warmth, but not too much light, we use a 250 watt bulb in our coop. One heat lamp per 30 chickens will be sufficient. Light fixtures in the coop should be placed above feeders and waterers, and care should be taken to avoid having areas in the chicken house that are shaded from light.

5. Continued Flow of Water

For those of you who have to deal with frozen water trays in the coop, you’re not alone. This continues to be an issue for many keepers of chickens. One solution is to purchase a heated base for the waterer and run a heavy duty extension cord into the chicken coop. Another solution is to check on your chicken’s water more frequently. Bringing warm water out to replace the frozen water will be very welcomed.

6. Dietary Supplements

Adding grains such as corn in addition to their regular diet can add more fat to their bodies and at the same time provide more insulation and energy during winter. Grains shouldn’t replace their entire diet. We usually do 70% scratch and 30% corn. We also continue to supplement their diets with vegetable and fruit scraps for added nutrition.

Signs of Trouble

Check on your flock a few times per day to ensure the outside temperatures are not too harsh. If your chickens are huddled in a corner or making a lot of noise, take some time to make them more comfortable. Further, if chickens are lethargic or not moving, they may be ill and should be cared for.

Frostbite of the feet and combs are very common in winter months. If signs appear, thaw the affected area with cold water, slowly warming it to room temperature. Then apply a coating of petroleum jelly to isolate it from direct contact with the cold. Reapply two to three times during the day. Warming lights are especially helpful to prevent this.

Another sign to look out for during the cold months is a condition called “pasting.” This occurs when their anuses are blocked with droppings. If caught early enough, you can prevent the chicks from dying by slowly and gently removing the blockage with the help of warm water.

With a little extra attention, your coop will stay very happy during the cooler months. All it takes is some time to get it all prepped and ready.

by Tess Pennington See more at: http://www.naturalblaze.com/2013/11/6-ways-to-get-your-chicken-coop-ready.html#sthash.dkXxpScK.dpuf

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Rising Temperatures in Europe Leave Ducks Grounded

LONDON – Most birds are acutely sensitive to changes in temperature. Scientists now say that changes in climate and warmer temperatures in parts of Europe have resulted in the migration patterns of certain birds being radically altered.

A study looking at the migration patterns of three species of duck – the goldeneye, goosander and tufted duck – has found there has been a sharp decrease in the number of birds migrating south.

Birds like this female goosander are migrating much less than before due to rising temperature in parts of northern Europe.

The study, published in Global Change Biology, examined the migration patterns of the three duck species over the 1980 to 2010 period. It found that mid-winter numbers of individual ducks at the southern edge of the species’ normal distribution range – in France, Ireland and Switzerland – had dropped by nearly 120,000.

Meanwhile mid-winter numbers of the species in Finland and Sweden – in areas where the ducks breed in summer  – had increased by a similar amount.

Chas Holt of the British Trust for Ornithology, a co-author of the study, says ornithologists in Finland were the first to notice that numbers of ducks were no longer flying south in winter.

“It’s essentially a fairly gradual shift in behavior, but it’s clear that a rise in temperatures in regions of Finland and Sweden means the ducks no longer fly south but stay closer to their summer breeding grounds all year round,” Holt told Climate News Network.

Early winter temperatures in the ducks’ breeding grounds in Finland were found to have increased by 3.8°C over the 1980 to 2010 period.

Food under pressure

“There is a sharp correlation between these shifts in the range of migration and the rise in temperatures,” says Holt.

Scientists say that if increasing numbers of birds do not migrate, there’s a risk that habitats will come under increasing pressure as food supplies dwindle.

“Three decades ago there would have been no open water for the ducks in winter in these north-eastern areas of their normal range.  Now there is – and the ducks don’t have to move so much from their breeding grounds.”

Scientists say that if increasing numbers of birds do not migrate, there’s a risk that habitats will come under increasing pressure as food supplies dwindle.

They also say that while many bird species have shown an ability to adapt to changes in temperature, many may not be able to alter their behavior fast enough if temperatures fluctuate rapidly.

“What happens if there is an exceptionally cold winter in the midst of a period of relatively mild ones?” asks Holt.  “Can birds such as these ducks adapt fast enough and resume their old migration patterns?”

“The whole issue has to be placed in context.  We are seeing declines everywhere in various bird species. These changes in migration patterns also mean we have to adapt our conservation strategies as new bird wintering areas are established.”

Source: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/rising-temperatures-in-europe-leave-ducks-grounded-16001

My Family and Other Animals

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So finally the weather here in cold, rainy old England has started to clear up.  The  rain has stopped and spring is finally trying to make it’s mark, bringing new life to this beautifully green and verdant land. And so I thought it about time to show you our little flock of feathered friends and undoubtedly the driving force behind this little blog of ours.

As you can see, our chickens have a lovely large pen to live in, giving them plenty of space to root and explore.

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The chicken house is a classic design, it’s simple but effective and large enough for all the chickens to have plenty of room to roost or lay.

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The house is raised off the floor for several important reasons.  Firstly, it prevents  damp and cold getting in through the floor.  It also helps prevent pests and critters getting into the house.  And lastly, the shade it provides gives the hens somewhere to have a dirt bath and get away from the hot day sun.

We encourage egg-laying with 1 nest box for every four or five chickens. Nest boxes should be raised off the ground at least a few inches, but lower than the lowest roosting pole. They should also be dark and “out of the way” to cater to the hen’s instinct to lay her eggs in a safe place.

The chicken house also needs to be airy enough to prevent respiratory diseases, to which chickens are especially prone, but not so drafty during winter that they freeze their tail feathers off. Chickens can withstand the cold so long as it’s not drafty.

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We took advice from several sites on the internet about cold weather preparation for our hens.  We found that instead of heating the coop in the winter, the chickens adapt to the cold weather over time. Their body metabolism actually changes along with the seasons. When you heat your coop, the birds will never get used to the colder outside temperature — so if the heat were to accidentally cut out causing a sudden change in temperature, you could literally lose your entire flock overnight.  Combs and wattles are wattles are susceptible to frost bite damage during freezing weather, so try smearing them with Vaseline to prevent this from happening.  You can also try using pieces of old carpet or duvet as insulation to put on the roof of the hen house, But of course be sure not to block the ventilation holes.

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Dirt bath’s are the chickens way of washing and important in preventing parasites such as mites and lice from finding a home in your chickens’ feathers and legs.

Having a tree in their pen is very important (if possible) as it also provides essential shelter, not only from the sun, but also from the wind and the rain too.

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Water is vital for your chickens.  They can’t live for long without it!  During the winter, you’ll need to make sure the water supply doesn’t freeze!  If you don’t have electricity in your coop and therefore cannot provide a water heater, we recommend you bring the waterer into your house every night, and return it outside every morning. Check the water once or twice a day to make sure it’s not frozen.  During the  summer, excessive heat is a real risk to birds. Make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times. A source of shade is important too (like a tree) and ventilation in the coop of course!

Now, this may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget.  Having let your chickens out of the coop in the morning, don’t forget to close and secure it at dusk (once they’ve all returned of course) to make sure predators can’t get to them.  It’s easy to forget, but important to remember!