Winter means rain. Lots and lots of rain. If you are in Louisiana for any length of time you will most likely hear the remark that nature has the unique ability to shove all four seasons into one week. They are not joking.
Monday may be 80* with high humidity and by Wednesday we have frost warnings with the temperatures dropping into the 30’s. Saturday brings another line of storms across the state with rain, lighting and tornado warnings. It can put a damper on your weekend plans but for farmers the unpredictable weather causes great concern.
Chickens can get wet and chickens can get cold however they can not get both wet *and* cold at the same time. While the laying hens and the piglets do fine the meat birds are the most susceptible to temperature drops out of all the animals on the farm. All it takes is the wind to change directions and blow some rain into the houses before we have a problem on our hands. Even with preparing ahead of time by bedding down the houses with rice hulls and bringing the sides down on the houses as soon as the rain starts it’s in the hands of nature. It doesn’t matter how many birds you raise, it never gets any easier to lose them. In order to keep our loss rates as low as possible and to keep our birds healthy we decided to keep the winter time for rest. The pastures get seeded with a rye/turnip mix, the houses stay empty and the ground resets preparing for the spring growth. Once we hit February the worst of the winter weather is usually past us. We may catch an occasional cold night but usually the rain has lightened up. The first order of the year comes in and you can hear the little cheeps from the brooder house all the way until the next December.
By now we all miss having the little puff balls around the farm. It’s not unusual to find the girls snuggled up with a chick or two, picking out their favorites knowing that their tender hearted daddy will agree to let little “Elsa” live in the backyard forever retired as a pet. Soon enough the spring activity will be flourishing but for now we rest.