Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cold Chicks

My poor chickens. The weather has gotten much colder and we've even had some snow. I let the chickens out into their run today and it was so cold and blustery, they turned right around and went back into the coop.

I've noticed a gradual drop in production over a span of weeks. I went from getting 10-13 eggs a day down to 8-5. Now is when I'll find out if those "cold hardy" breeds really are tough. Silver, our Hamburg roo, is a Dutch breed and he's not as heavily feathered as the girls. I see him shivering at times and worry about him. Perhaps someone could knit him a scarf and cap for this cold weather?

The ducks seem undaunted by the weather and they swim around in the pond all day occasionally coming to shore to nibble some cracked corn or what's left of the green grass. The drakes are just beginning to get their curly tail feathers which makes it a whole lot easier to tell the boys from the girls. It looks like I've got 3, possibly 4 hens. I wonder when and where they will start laying eggs.

My main concern with the colder weather is that the chickens are less likely to leave the coop and will stay close together inside. This can lead to a miriad of bad chook behaviors...feather picking and egg eating come immediately to mind. My biggest fear is egg eating because there's no cure for it. Dear God, please spare me this one test of chicken-keeping!

If you have birds I'd like to hear how you are managing them in the colder weather. Do you do anything special for them or do you just let them tough it out like I do? How much has their egg production gone down?


  1. None of my birds stayed in the coop last winter except the little D'uccles. I had Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks, they were even out free ranging in a freezing rain storm. I got video of them slipping and sliding. They also got out in the snow and were out in minus degree weather.

    I have added Silver Lace Wyandottes and Golden Comets this year, so I don't know what they will do.

    I have one D'Uccle hen that eats eggs but only if there is nothing else for her to eat in the coop and since I don't feed in the coop, that is a problem that I have to deal with during the winter months. I have to make sure she has something, since she won't go outside.

  2. Our egg production is cut 1/3 - 1/2 some days. Our chickens are in the barn and at 12-1pm I let them free range and they all return to the barn by dark. In the winter we supply them with warm water day and night along with layer crumbles, cracked corn, and bread.

  3. It was 32 degrees in my coop this morning and 22 ouside. The water wasn't frozen, but I did take some warm water out to them. I also cooked oatmeal and took it out while it was still warm. They love it. They stayed out all day yesterday with temps in the mid-thirties. Boy, do they complain when I'm out there with them!

    I haven't *knock wood* had any egg eating yet, but one of my BRs is laying very soft-shelled eggs and they're all but cracked open when I get them out of the nest box. I figure it's only a matter of time until I don't get out there in time and they discover the yumminess of raw eggs! I'm not sure why only one of them is laying these. They have access to oyster shell in the coop and limestone in the yard, so I'm not sure what else I can do. Maybe they're getting too many treats?

  4. I always notice a drop in eggs when colder weather gets here, too. My girls also want to stay in the coop as long as possible! However, if it's sunny, even if it's cold they usually like to be outside. I've even seen my older girls laying on the ground sunbathing!! (get that visual in your head! LOL)

  5. Oh, it's awful! I have one brown leghorn that sometimes sneaks in and eats eggs. She's testing her luck. She may be finding a new home before long.

    The leghorns lay every day, though, so it's a tough choice. But oddly enough, the white eggs they lay get frowned upon by the folks who buy my eggs. They seem to believe that only brown eggs can be farm eggs. lol!

    My egg production has only dipped a little. With 17 chickens, two of them roos, we get between 11-8 eggs per day.
    The silky and the polish hen only lay about twice a week.

    We also have Americauna, Silver laced Wyandottes, barred rock, and rhode island reds.

    Some people believe in giving their chickens a winter rest from laying and don't leave lights on for them, but I do. And not just for eggs, but to keep their water from freezing and their house a little warmer, too.

    I don't want to pay $20.00+ a month for feed all winter without our chickens paying their way, if you know what I mean.
    They have to at least lay enough eggs to pay for their feed. :)

    New Mexico


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