I woke up yesterday morning, and the ground was white. A mad scramble ensued….finding winter coats and snowpants and hats and mitts and scarves before we had to trundle the kids off to kindergarten. How is it that winter catches us by surprise….EVERY YEAR?!?!? I mean….we live in Canada….It’s November….what did we think would happen???
I hope that the same thing doesn’t happen to backyard flock keepers. Winterizing your coop, or re-homing your hens to someplace with a source of heat should be on everyone’s agenda (or probably should HAVE been a few days ago). I hope everyone knows that chickens are not native to our climate….they evolved in the sub-tropical jungles of Borneo (lucky them!).
Chickens have a fairly wide ability to cope with heat and cold, but as you’d expect from their historical home, they deal with heat better than cold. Laying hen welfare experts (ie people a WHOLE lot smarter than me!) say that chickens should have their environment maintained above 10 C. The upper limit of whats called the thermoneutral zone is around 30 C. Outside this range (10-30 C), hens have to work hard metabolically to maintain their body temperature. I have personally seen frostbitten hens. It’s unfortunately not uncommon to see chickens with gait problems because 1 toe is shorter than the others, or stubby little combs….both of which are long-term legacies of frostbite damage.