Ask the Expert: Winter
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We’ve had a tough winter here in Central New Hampshire. Lots of snow and ice. The door to my chicken run becomes frozen often and I end up chipping the ice in order to let my girls out. I was wondering if “pet safe” ice melt crystals are safe for chickens. And if not, do you have any other suggestions?
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
Bob Patenaude, Moultonborough, New Hampshire
It’s been a crazy winter, hasn’t it? In regards to your question about ice melt crystals: I would not recommend use of any of them around chickens. Those crystals are tempting to peck and eat. A chicken’s kidneys are smaller than those of most other pets, and even simple rock salt can cause problems.
My favorite farm “hack” is to purchase a good, waterproof seedling heat mat. These don’t get too hot, since most seeds germinate best at 70-80F degrees, and they are built for frequent water leakage. I’ve used these to keep pipes from freezing and placed them beneath rabbit nesting boxes and baby goat beds. Try plugging one in to warm it enough to straighten it, then lay it beneath the run door at night, when it is closed. Not only will this give you a barrier beneath the door and the ice but it will stay warm enough to prevent freezing.
Please let me know how it goes!
Marissa Ames. Editor, Backyard Poultry
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