Monday, March 16, 2009
Cold weather policy
Our cold weather policy varies depending on the time of the year. In early winter the weather always seems colder because none of us; chickens, goats as well as we humans, are use to the cooler temperatures. It is all relative. So we dress warmer and the goats shiver a bit until their winter coats grow in. Our bucks have a more insulated and smaller stall that holds the heat better, so generally they just get their heat lamp turned on when it gets colder than ten bellow zero. Right now it is on a timer to come on for an hour around midnight, just as a treat to get their area a little warmer for a comfy sleep. For most the winter I plug the girls' heat lamp in once the temperature gets below zero and unplug it when it warms up. Yesterday it was twenty below in the morning and ten below in the afternoon. It felt cold, but it was clear and sunny out which made it pretty nice out still. All the goats were out for most the day and I didn't see anyone acting cold. When it was ten below in December, everyone was much more reluctant to come outside. The goats have heated water tanks outside. We feed them grain and hay outside once or twice daily depending on the time of year. So no matter how cold it is, they have to get out and stretch their legs and get some fresh...cold air. If it is thirty below zero, or really windy or just snowing or raining hard, I will throw some hay into their stalls.Here is a picture of Xanadu on her way to get a drink. I shoveled a path to their water tank because the snow was so deep. I think snow in their feet seems to bother them more than the cold.
The chickens are pretty hardy. They have a heat lamp in their house that is on a timer and we adjust it depending on how cold it is. It is a red lamp so it can be on at night time and not disturb their sleep cycle. We also have a regular light that comes on for thirteen hours during the day. The heat lamp hangs above their water, and usually keeps it from freezing. We usually wait to open the chickens door to their outside pen until it is close to noon - so its warmer out by then. We close them in after the sun goes down. If the temperature is below zero we often leave them inside for the day. If the temperature has been twenty or thirty below zero for a while, I'll let them out as soon as it warms up significantly, maybe even five or ten below feels warm by then, and the birds are excited to get out for a little while anyway. So far this winter we've only had one of our Sexlink birds get frost bit on her comb. The bigger birds spend a lot more time outside when it is cold than the smaller birds. Well there are not many cold days left, and the sunny days make a big difference.