My chickens are insane – chicken update

Recently, Jan brought to my attention that I was due for another update on the chickens. I hadn’t done an update recently because there wasn’t really anything new to share. The chickens still lay six eggs every day (one egg per chicken) and they pretty much just do chicken things all day.

Most days they like to all lay in the same box for some reason

However, shortly after Jan reminded me to do a chicken update, we had the whole polar vortex thing. That definitely brought some challenges we haven’t faced before with the chickens, thanks to those Arctic temperatures. I went out to check on the chickens the day before the polar vortex hit and found that somehow the dial on the heating tape on the waterer had gotten turned up too high and the tape had melted a hole in the plastic waterer.

The heating tape looked similar to this [source]

Let me back up a minute. When the temperatures started dipping below freezing back in October, Barry brought home heating tape. We had the tape attached to one side of the chicken’s 5 gallon waterer and had a portion of it dipping down into the basin that they drink from, to keep the water from freezing. The tape has a thermostat for the heat setting.

Five gallon waterer

So when I went to check on the chickens that Monday (Jan. 6), I found that their coop smelled like burnt plastic and that all five gallons of their water was spilled everywhere from the heat tape melting the water. I think we’re lucky it didn’t catch fire! It was a work day, so I put a bucket of water in the coop for the chickens to hold them over. When I got home from work the bucket was frozen! I went out and purchased a new metal waterer, as well as a heated base to keep the water from freezing.  

The floor in the coop isn’t very level, and Barry and I kept having issues with the water spilling while we were trying to get the waterer situated. As soon as it hit the floor it turned to ice because it was already down to single digits outside. At one point I spilled water on the bottom of my jeans and they instantly froze solid. Once we got that situated, we made a few other adjustments in the coop to help keep the chickens warm. For one, we closed their window to try and block some of the wind.

We also set up the heat lamp on part of the roosting poles so that the birds that wanted more heat could get under the lamp, while birds that didn’t want that much could roost on the other side of the poles. Most of them took us up on the offer for more heat.

In general, the chickens seemed very well equipped to deal with the extremely cold temperatures. They kind of hunker down and fluff their feathers, which I imagine helps to trap in their body heat. Point in case? Those crazies were outside running around the next morning, when it was -31 with the windchill.

During this cold snap, Barry and I checked on the chickens twice a day. Typically, we only check on them once per day or sometimes every other day. But like any outside animal, they consume more food and water because they are burning more calories to stay warm when it’s colder out. So it was important for us to make sure they had enough of both.

They still love getting a special treat of cracked corn, and occasionally we also give them dried meal worms. They go nuts for those!

15 Comments

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  1. It is amazing the way nature equipped them to handle the weather. And I’m surprised none of the eggs froze.

    1. I think the eggs would have frozen if we had left them out in the coop for more than a day!

  2. We had some chickens when I was a child, but I’d forgotten about all of the care they need. Thanks for the chicken lesson!

    1. I think they’re pretty easy, for the most part. Just feed and water them and collect the eggs. But I have found that during the winter there’s definitely more care involved to make sure they’re warm enough.

  3. Yay! Thanks for the update! Amazing that they were outside when it was that cold. You’d think their little feet would freeze off!! I very well remember dealing with animals/frozen water in the winter as a kid. Not find memories exactly.

    1. I know! They all still have their feet somehow πŸ™‚ I think we would have gotten frostbite had we gone out barefoot in that weather.

  4. That is so crazy that they were outside when it was that cold like no big deal! Crazy chickens! Lucky you found the tape and nothing burned down! That would have been scary!

    I would like to hear more about what you are doing with so many eggs! Ha. How long do they stay good for? I really wish I liked eggs more.

    1. I’m so glad nothing caught fire. That would have been awful!

      The eggs are good for about 2 1/2 months from the time they’re laid. We eat lots of eggs for breakfast and I also fix things like quiche and egg custard pie. Over the holidays we also took a bunch of eggs to my dad and to Barry’s parents, and we gave some to my grandparents and my uncle (who hosted a family day at his house). During the summer we traded eggs for produce with our neighbor, who has a garden. πŸ™‚

    2. That’s so cool that you get to trade them with your neighbors!

  5. I love your chickens! I am so excited to get some chicken updates! Once I establish my backyard and garden in my new house, I hope to get a chicken coop and some chicks πŸ™‚ Urban farming!

    1. I love them, too! πŸ™‚ I try not to think about them as pets, but it’s kind of hard not to when they all come running to see me every time I go outside to do something with them. I can’t wait until you get a chicken coop and some chicks!

  6. Those are hardy chickens, and I’m happy to see them make it back to the blog!

    1. They sure are! They’re very well-equipped to deal with the cold.

  7. What a great post to keep us updated. Your Chickens look fantastic!
    Ellie lost all but one (Tofu) of her chickens when she was dog sitting. She was devastated to find out that the dog she was sitting (and then her own couldn’t help himself once the antics began) was able to force his way into the “hen house” and devour them. She was just heartbroken. Thankfully for her (and Tofu) she found a seller of chickens about the same age as Tofu and she was able to drive down to Sedona to buy them. Two of them ended up being ROOSTERS, which was an issue, but now things seem to be back to normal. Over Christmas I stopped in on them twice and they are HUGE, beautiful, and healthy.
    What do you do with a half a dozen eggs per day?!?!

    1. Oh no! Poor Ellie and poor chickens. I would be devastated, too. As much as I try not to think of them as pets, I’ve still grown attached. I’m glad she was able to get some new ones. It can be very hard to tell the gender of chicks, so it’s easy to end up with a rooster on accident. We were lucky we didn’t in our flock of 6.

      We make lots of food with eggs in the recipe and we eat eggs a lot for breakfast πŸ™‚

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