The snow is falling rapidly and robustly here this morning, and is quickly coating the ground. This doesn’t just change our routines; our animals adapt to the colder weather with adjusted habits, too. The chickens are tending to stick closer to the coop and immediate surrounding area, and not wandering so far and wide across the property. We’re glad for that, not only from the perspective of them being able to get back into the coop quickly to stay warm, but also, safe from predators. They’re much easier to spot against a white background, after all!
The flock is also changing how they dust bathe. For those not in the know, dust bathing is like a little spa treatment in the chicken world, except, instead of exfoliating, they use it to keep their skin free from parasites. Normally, chickens like to do this in dirt, sand, ashes, or diatomaceous earth, and preferably, a nice blend of those. In hot weather, it actually helps them to cool down, too. The mulch pile (it’s more of a plain, now, after this summer’s efforts by the flock), and the lean-to behind the coop seem to be the exclusive spots that everyone clamors to get an appointment at in the warmer weather.
But now that the ground is cold, they are just giving themselves a little treatment right in their coop bedding. (Pine shavings, in case you wondered. But I would not recommend opting for rolling around in those if you have a better option. And I’m guessing you probably do.) But, as you may notice in the photos, their bedding contains…well, let’s just say that’s not a healing mixture of seaweed and kaolin clay. So, I’m not very jazzed about them rolling around in their own poo. But, when we’ve attempted to give them a specific dust bathing area within the coop, some joker inevitably ruins it for everyone by taking a dump in it. So I guess I need to do some more reading and figure out if that’s really necessary or not. It’s not like the turds are sticking to their feathers. I just find the idea unsavory. But I guess my standards for spa quality and those within the avian community differ. Perhaps I should not judge their values so harshly. 😉
The cold weather is also changing the way the goats do things. Going out for a daily walk has become less about foraging for different food, and more about a quick break to stretch their legs and do some running and prancing after being cooped up in the barn. As such, the duration of these walks has been reduced considerably. I’ve only been opening the large back door on the barn that leads out to their little fenced yard for a couple of hours a day. We get ferocious westerly winds here, and they just get blasted by those if I leave the door open. Given that drafts are one of the worst things for goats, it’s important to give them proper shelter. We are fairly certain that five of our girls are pregnant, too. At least, we are hoping! So we are not just concerned about their health, but that of their babies as well.
It would seem that we need to get another hay feeder set up in the barn, as the current single one gets rather crowded. Of course, we will probably do that, and find that they all just crowd the other feeder, and ignore the old one. Have I mentioned how much goats are like three-year-old children sometimes? 🙂
I really need to find a good resource on hoof trimming for goats. I have the Storey’s Guide to Dairy Goats, and a Hoegger’s catalog that contains some diagrams, but I’d like something a little more informative than those. Like, a chart that I could laminate and keep in the barn to refer to while doing the task so that I can feel more confident that I’m doing it properly. Anyone know of such a thing?
Hope everyone is staying warm if you are in a winter climate right now, and those of you in warmer climates stay comfortable today!