Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cold Weather Chickens and Turkeys....

From the country...

The chickens in the barn seem to be fairing this cold snap pretty well. Our barn is unheated so it is up to the critters to generate their own heat along with some extra bedding. I do feel bad though when the temps dip into those frigid temps like last night (a whopping -25!). The hens seem to bear the cold better then the roosters and some breeds of roosters do better than others in terms of their combs getting frostbitten. A neat tidbit of information I have recently learned is that birds puff their feathers out in the cold which traps in warm air around their bodies, which in tern keeps them from freezing. The comb and waddle is another issue, the bigger they are the harder they get hit with frost bite. The best thing to do when sourcing your breeds is to find a more hardy breed of chicken with smaller combs and waddles.

The odd ball in this photo is a turkey that I saved from the turkey pen in the fall. For some reason the other male turkeys didn't like the look of him. They beat him up so badly, I thought he was a goner but he rose from the grave (I babied him along for a while...) and now he has his home, lodging with the chickens where he seems to be enjoying himself. Lets not get ahead of ourselves here, this gobbler is not a pet but an Easter treat. I kept him because he was too badly beaten to sell and wanted to plump him up for the spring.... a nice Easter turkey for the table. My breeding stock of turkeys (all 17 of them) are in another part of the barn and seem to be overwintering even better then the chickens. They are such hardy birds, conserving all their energy for the spring and hopefully getting ready for some spring hanky panky.

Right now we are feeding the chickens and turkeys a mixture of their daily grain blend with non GMO whole grain corn. The corn helps them to generate more heat and add some fat to their bones. We also found a score from a local brewery who is setting us up with free fermented brewery grains from the beer making process. This is a great relationship where we get some free fodder for the livestock and the brewery doesn't have to pay to take it to the landfill. It gives the poultry something to play with and a nice supplement to our daily feeding regime that hopefully cuts down on our feed costs. On top of all that, the poultry enjoys our table compost scraps.

The winter is a trying time for all outdoor animals, they just set thier dials to survival mode and wait for warmer days...


  1. Your blog is interesting. I had the great pleasure of visiting him.
    Best wishes

  2. I can't wait to have our own laying hens and a rooster or two. I doubt will get turkeys but our area has tons of wild ones...and, from time to time they visit our bird feeder.

  3. You are tough...I kind of want to let them sleep under my covers to keep warm...


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