Friday, November 16, 2012

Wintertime Do's and Don'ts for Chickens

This article brought to mind that, with the temperatures falling fast, it's officially time to go into Winter mode with the chickens. Around here, that means-

*Carbs, and lots of them. We very rarely give our chickies corn or bread products during the rest of the year, as warm/hot weather and excessive sugar/carb intake are the perfect storm for chicken diarrhea (ew). However, during the cooler months (in Western Washington, this is, at a minimum, November-March) we like to feed a carbohydrate-intensive food at least once per day, to help the birds maintain their fat/muscle while still managing to keep themselves warm.

*Grit, just a little extra. I worry that downpours that keep the chickens inside, or snow that blankets the ground could keep our chooks from getting necessary grit. So, we add just a little extra to the scratch/pellet mix that we feed, just for insurance.

*Out early, in early. We are back on Standard Time, so it's getting light a little earlier, and getting dark way earlier. We have to adjust out chicken liberation/round up times accordingly. Otherwise Mr. Fox will catch us out and remind us that laziness is not a virtue.

*Diatomaceous Earth. We add DE to the chickens' rations in small amounts all the time, but when the guys and gals are going to be spending a little more time inside the coop, it'd be a very easy thing for a parasite (mites,worms) to run riot through our flock, and so we add just a little extra to their food. Lots of folks also throw a very light dusting on the bedding material to deter things like mites, but as we have two asthmatics in the family, and DE is essentially microscopic glass, we don't use it in a way that could likely render it airborne and inhalable.

In the midst of all of this suddenly cold weather, naturally, the chickens have decided to throw a molt in the mix, because apparently things weren't interesting enough. So I'm really ramping up the carbs right now, because it's cold and they're all half naked. And on top of that, no eggs for a week now. :( These stinkers should be glad that I love them all so much, because a meaner farmer would start making soup when hens started eating double and laying nada.

Oy, I say.