Click to enlarge photograph.
We have snow and ice and everything is much harder for the birds and myself.
The birds that are ‘out’ spend most of the time in the big dutch barn during the day, just scratching around and keeping off the snow. They crossed the snow from the grass runs,but are reluctant to go back over it at dusk, so I had to catch up quite a few after dark and return them to their runs.
Keeping the water ice free is a major problem and the daily round of unfreezing drinkers really takes a lot of time, but has to be done.
Water is vital to a bird, it regulates the body temperature, aids digestion and clears the liver/kidneys of waste. If your birds are laying and they run out or cannot get at fresh water they stop laying, as a lot of water is taken in to be used in the production of the egg.
I have about 46 drinkers to see to at the moment and all freeze up over night. I empty each one out before nightfall and fill again first thing in the morning for the first drink and if the temperature stays below freezing and the ice up again I dunk the drinker in a bucket of hot water to thaw. I can usually do 5 before I need to replace the hot water. This will only work if the drinkers are clean, any that have got dirty need dealing with separately.
The 10 8ft x 10ft covered runs are dry, as I have sheeted them over with a tarp.
They are littered with straw to give the birds something to work on during daylight. As long as the birds stay dry the cold shouldn’t be a major hardship.A well fed bird will carry enough fat and feathers to get it through a tough winter. It’s when your birds get wet and cold the problems start.
I caught up a few Wyandotte bantam pullets and found them to be quite lightweight, possibly from competition from larger fowl for food, so they have gone back up into the granary under a low wattage lamp to give them more light and a longer feeding time. I shall put these back on a chick crumb mix and extra maize for added protein and fat building.
As yet, I have not selected birds to go forwards into the next years breeding plans. There are a number of very good Welsh Black cockerels and pullets that I have my eye on, along with a some nicely marked single combed Wyandotte bantams, this is a breed I have started a line on, just as pets mainly for the lovely colours I have managed to breed into them.