Things are still frosty cold here in Michigan. Up our lane at the top of the hill we have 1 1/2 feet of snow! It is sure deep! The Working Girls still venture out of their coop daily, but when the temps have been sub-zero they stayed huddled beneath their Chookie Palace, sharing a bit of warmth from wing to wing. Evening temps have been as low as 15 below zero. BUR-R-R!
Miss Lissy, at left
During the recent drop in temperatures, Miss Lizzy began her MOLT, of all things! Yep, believe it or not! She has a voracious appetite, so she's regaining what has been depleted in her system from creating those yummy fresh eggs all this time. I'm willing to be that perhaps in March she'll start laying again for us. But at this point in time, she's the little firecracker that keeps the rest of the girls in line!
Hope you are remembering to provide fresh water daily to your livestock - the chickens, in particular. Water from a warmed device is best - warmth encourages them to drink. If they are on pelleted feed and aren't drinking, the feed can get stuck in their crops and cause blockages. The blockage will look like a hard lump off to the side of the birds neck, and it will be semi hard or rock hard. The bird will have stopped eating or drinking anything at all, which is not a good sign! The bird will have nothing to excrete, either. It is blocked from both ends. The bird may take on a sickly posture - head tucked down, tail tucked down, and may be trying to eliminate, with no success. When blockages happen, there are several ways to open things up again, if you are not squeamish. (If you ARE, then call your veterinarian - - - IMMEDIATELY!)
Blockages can be opened by inserting a thin tube into the opened mouth of your chicken and, moving it past the opening to the airway; pipe in small amounts of tepid water and mineral oil. Not too much all at once - you want it to go into the throat, not the windpipe. If you pipe it too quickly, it can be inhaled, and your bird will "drown" in the fluids that were meant to save her. Another way to assist in blockage removal is to hold the chicken upside down, head near the ground, and massage the blockage in its crop until it "vomits". Do this in increments of 30 seconds only, then let the bird rest upright, and then turn it again and massage for 30 seconds, then let it rest. You should have success in a short amount of time if the blockage isn't too horrid. Keep the bird isolated in a separate area where you can keep an eye on her to be sure she's eating, drinking, and "emptying out" on a regular schedule. When all looks well, return her to her flock-mates.
I was sorting some odds and ends in boxes we have stored in the upstairs portion of our house when I came across this little item. It's an Egg Coddler - have you ever coddled an egg? I haven't! What a pretty vintage cookware/servingware from the past! Crack the egg and place it inside, salt and pepper, add seasonings to taste - simply screw on the sliver lid and lower it into a hot pan of water, covering it completely. After 6 minutes the egg should be cooked and ready to eat! How simple and elegant!
Dear Ms. Lizzy, Since your January weather predictions for 2011 I got to wondering: How do Chickens keep their feet from freezing in the cold Michigan winters? Is it necessary to have heat in the coop in winter? Signed: Fretful Frieda
Poultry and birds of the air have many little tricks up their leg shanks to keep their tootsies warm in winter! As I said yesterday, No Dumb Clucks HERE!!! Standing on one leg with the other leg and toes tucked up beneath the body is one thing the ladies do. Chickens are able to keep their feet warm and blood flow circulating wonderfully in temps down to -30 degrees - but this comes at increased energy expenditure - So Remember - - - the more the energy usage, the more chicken feed must be increased! Eggselent treats for cold weather include cracked corn and SUET! The girls love it! Another idea for keepers of the coop might consider is offering outside roosts that are square, rather than round. The square roost offers greater foot and ankle support, and allows the bird to lower its body more directly on top of those cold and featherless toes, making for more warmth in icy temps!
That's all for today! Any more questions, feel free to add questions in comments, or email Lizzy in care of the ChickenWrangler!
Signed - Ms. Lizzy
oooOOOOoooo! Ms. Lizzy has been MIA for a bit over the Christmas and start of the brand New Year. But today, she is back with a prediction of blowing snow and cold for January in her grand state of Michigan! ooooOOOOooooo! WhooooOOOOooo could have guessed it! Ms. Lizzy is so very pleased to say her predictions are coming true, and she is so sorry she could not get on line to post about it sooner!
Many poultry handbooks advise folks to start putting lights on for better winter egg production, and they say to add 4 hours of artificial light to the start of the day, to be sure the hens come in to roost at dark. With those remarks, they seem to insist that hens are "dim wits", who would stay outside until LIGHTS OUT, before coming inside for the evening. Wrong-O, Buttercup! This flock gets extra daylight added at the END of the day, and after evening snack time, all girls tippy-toe up the ramp and rest on roosts until the extra 4 hrs of light shuts down on the timer. There are no DUMB CLUCKS in OUR hen house!!! We're smarter than we're given credit for!!!
Just a quick blurb before heading out the door to work this morning -
We bought a gift for the hens (and ourselves) this Christmas, and it's just fabulous! A heated water bowl!
The girls have been drinking from a short sided rubber feed pan which I've emptied and refilled daily. The water would freeze, and it could be broken out easily because of the rubber composition. But this year, we ran an extension cord and hubbs came home with this bowl purchased from Tractor Supply Co., for only $19.00! It keeps the water at a drinkable temperature for the girls, and its oh-so-easy for me to refill - AND an easy clean, too, high sides to hold plenty without spilling. I put it on top of a concrete block so it's higher and they're not tempted to roost on the edges of it -to stay cleaner longer.
If you are still emptying frozen water containers for your poultry, consider buying one of these bowls. You'll love it, and so will your hens!