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First snow and odd behavior in our hens

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Our eight 7 month old hens experienced their first significant (4") snowfall today. They seemed to enjoy wandering around the yard and foraging as usual after the initial reluctance to exit the coop. Tonight though, when we got home and went to check on them and close up the coop, they were all huddled in a snow covered group out in the yard, fully exposed. They are always very good about going to roost in the coop and we have never seen them do this. These birds are all hatchery chicks raised by us. I have read that sometimes chicks raised without a hen to mother and teach them are less wise in the ways of chickenhood. What do you think? Did they get confused with the snow? We always check on them every night, so we'll make sure they are cooped, but with below zero temps on the way, we want to make sure they stay safe.

post #2 of 4

Snow does funny things to birds, and yes, they were confused by the snow.

 

Likely what happened is the snow provided enough light so that they didn't head to the coop when they should have, or the landscape didn't seem familiar and they couldn't find their normal path, then it got dark. Chickens can't see in the dark well, so they'll huddle wherever they find a spot to huddle. I've picked them off all sorts of weird places when this has happened.

 

Best thing to do is be there at twilight to make sure the little dears are headed in the right direction. You can often take the alpha hen or rooster in first and the rest will follow.

 

LofMc

Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: currently Rosie, bantam Cochin, and new Vivi a buff silkie. Breeding my own Olive Eggers and dark layers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud grandma. Loving wife.
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Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: currently Rosie, bantam Cochin, and new Vivi a buff silkie. Breeding my own Olive Eggers and dark layers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud grandma. Loving wife.
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post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady of McCamley View Post
 

Snow does funny things to birds, and yes, they were confused by the snow.

 

Likely what happened is the snow provided enough light so that they didn't head to the coop when they should have, or the landscape didn't seem familiar and they couldn't find their normal path, then it got dark. Chickens can't see in the dark well, so they'll huddle wherever they find a spot to huddle. I've picked them off all sorts of weird places when this has happened.

 

Best thing to do is be there at twilight to make sure the little dears are headed in the right direction. You can often take the alpha hen or rooster in first and the rest will follow.

 

LofMc

Great Post^^^

 

It's funny how the snow adds light to the night.....we just got our first significant snow (1ft+) that's going to stick around, that coupled with the full moon certainly has lightened the 'dark season'.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

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Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great reply, Lady. I thought that might be the case. With the full moon and snow, it was bright enough at 9 pm that we really didn't need a flashlight. We are having a blast watching these first timers get used to the snow this morning. Some are plowing through and thoroughly enjoying the snow in the sunshine, while a couple others...not so much!

 

We are making a couple modifications to our "yard" and run to adjust to this new element (clearing paths and laying down fresh substrate), and of course will be there to guide them to roost if need be.

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