It was all over the news January 6-7, 2014, Chicago would be hit with lows of -15f and windchills -40f. Ouch! Especially when just a day before the high was a balmy 32f.
Bein' a newbie chicken owner I did my due diligence and scoured the great and wonderful google for answers. Hence Project Polar Vortex commenced...
This is the advice I found:
Do not provide heat, your chickens will huddle together and create enough body heat; Chickens don't need a heat lamp even in negative temps, and if you use a heat lamp you will cause a fire; if you give them heat they will not be acclimated to cold temps and they will die if your electricity goes out; give extra scratch before bedtime, but don't feed too much scratch or you'll have fat hens; insulate your coop or don't insulate because mice will hide in the walls; provide a draft free coop, but make sure you have plenty of ventilation or your hens will get frostbitten combs; and lastly don't forget to rub Vaseline on their combs to prevent frostbite - WHAT?! Vaseline?!
Don't judge me but when it did hit -3f I did the Vaseline thing, there I admit it. My chickens made weird noises the entire time probably calling me "crazy chicken lady" and I nearly killed myself after I fell out of the coop - chicken in hand.
Anyways...with all the crazy info overload, I soon felt my head spinning, just like a newbie mom with a newborn! So instead of runnin' around like a chicken with its' head cut off, I gathered all the info and devised my plan...
Well it's nearing the end of January and we have survived!
However, so I don't cause the next "Great Chicago Fire", I now reserve the heat lamp for temps that reach -5f or less. Any temps above that, my hens do just fine. Honestly, I think I would not even use a heat lamp if I had at least two or three more hens, but my three bantam easter eggers at only about 2lbs each probably don't mind a lil coziness in negative temps.
My gals are givin me about a dozen yummy eggs a week now; even in cold temps, what more could a chicken mama ask for? It's my pleasure to keep them nice and toasty. Or perhaps maybe I should consider chicken sweaters?
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