Chicken Woes: Part 2

…or Chickens in an Alaskan Winter..

Update from my last blog: Our little depressed chicken lived out the rest of her days next to our heater eating triangular tuna fish sandwiches. We never did figure out what her ailment was..

As winter progressed and the temperatures dropped to -40F our chicken coop construction was put to the test. We built the coop from all reclaimed materials and managed an R20-30 value for the walls, ceiling and roof. The results are that it takes 500W in heat lamps  to keep the indoor temperature around 35F and additionally a 60W heating pad under the water dispenser to keep the water from freezing.  Even with all this rigged up the coop was covered in frozen poopsicles that didn’t thaw until spring and whenever a hen was brave enough to leave the warmth of the heat lamp and venture into the nesting boxes to lay an egg, the egg would freeze within the hour.

A frozen egg is still edible but frozen egg-insides crack the shell, so it needs to be consumed asap. Frozen egg snack anyone?

When the temperatures hovered above 0F the cooped-up (literally cooped up – get it?) chickens were straining to go outside to chomp around on snow and get some fresh air. Chickens have the unique ability to not feel cold – eventhough their limbs are turning blue and falling off. This means they are extremely prone to frostbite. Trust me, we found out the hard way…  Once I noticed little black and blue bits on their combs and wattles I turned to trusty google. The solution is simple: lube their non-feathered parts up with udder butter before sending them outside. So that’s what I did – every morning before going outside, I smeared a healthy dose of udder butter on their combs and wattles and frost bite returned to our coop no more!

And on really cold days (see picture below) – Fairbanks had a record low winter with temperatures down to -60F ….

All the ladies survived the winter.. minus 1 toe. In the hubbub of udder butter and heating pads little attention was paid to chicken toes. :-/


~ by yhossain on July 5, 2012.

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