Chicken found in the snow, what happened ?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by phrank, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. phrank

    phrank Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2008
    Ive had chickens for the past 6 or 7 years. for the first 5 years or so, they didnt have free range of the yard. They would live in an outside coop during the spring, summer and fall, and would spend the winter months in the garage coop. This past year, I constructed a year -round outdoor coop, heated, lights . weather protected ..... The chickens now have free range of the yard, and have returned to the coop every single night, with no exceptions. This being said, they have never experienced snow until a few days ago, when we got about 2 feet of snow. I went to check the chickens this morning ( about 4 days after the storm) when i noticed a chicken poking its head out from the snow. I walked over to it, picked it up ( it seemed confused, but healthy), and placed it back into the coop. I looked at the spot where it was sitting, and it was down the the dirt / leaves. The spot where i found the chicken was only about 20 feet from the entrance of the coop ( they lived in this coop since march or april).

    So, my question is, do you think the chicken figured out a storm was coming, and just let the snow fall until it was completely covered, and has been there for the past 3 days ??? Or did it wander around after the storm, maybe got disoriented, and by laying in the snow for a period of time, its own body temperature melted the now beneath it until it eventually reached the ground level??

    As mentioned earlier, it was only about 20 feet from the entrance of the coop, there were no chicken foot prints anywhere around the snow hole it was laying in, the hole in the snow was down to the dirt level, there was also snow on the back of the chicken, the chicken let me walk over and pick her up ( although usually friendly, the never let me just walk over to them and pick them up), the temps have been about 35 F day/ 20 F night, there was a decent amount of chicken poop in the hole it was laying in, so i know it was there for a little bit.

    Im just curious what the normal chicken behavior would be when a significant snow storm approaches

    thanks ,,

  2. Mailpouch

    Mailpouch New Egg

    Sep 11, 2009
    I'm no expert by any means, (only had them since June), but they don't like the know what so ever. In fact the first time this year they kinda paniced and stayed put. They didn't want to wonder from a grassy area back to the coop, across the snow. Had to pick them up, (that was a chore!), and carry them.
    Maybe it just got stuck if you will and stayed put.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I know that often after a snow storm, you will have the wits scared out of you, as you walk by a sagebrush on the prairie, and a prairie chicken comes flying out of a hole in the snow, just like you mentioned. They just hunker down, and as the snow builds around them, it protects them from the wind, and is quite warm down there. mk
  4. phrank

    phrank Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2008
    I went out again in the afternoon to check up on her and make sure she was ok. And she was. I rechecked the site where i found her, just to make sure that i saw what i saw. And There were definitely no foot prints there, and the snow was definitely soft enough that if she did get there after the snow, she definitely would have left prints, So im guessing, as mentioned above, that maybe she panicked and just tried to ride the storm out, Or, maybe She was further from the coop at first, got disoriented making her way back ( it was a pretty intense storm, so maybe there were white out conditions) and just slipped into survival mode. I just cant believe she was literally buried for 3 + days. If i didnt see her head poking out of the snow today, who knows how much longer she would have been there. Maybe I need to attach a GPS up to them every time it snows [​IMG]
  5. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Quote:I think you nailed it there. Bad visibility so she just hunkered down and did what chooks do in that situation. [​IMG]

    Mine have only seen snow once and when I raised the two pop doors, they trooped out into it (2" overnight) and began their morning routine of drinking water and scratching around. They spent the normal time outdoors for them that day, but there was no snow to speak of during the daytime hours. [​IMG]
  6. phrank

    phrank Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2008
    Thats what I figured, i just thought it was strange because she was so close to the coop, and must have heard the other chickens, so i was wondering why she just didnt make the extra effort ( literally 20 more steps) to get into the heated, weather protected coop. But , I guess thats why she is a chicken, and im a human:D The most important thing is that her instincts clearly were good enough to survive extreme conditions. So, from a chickens point of view, she knew what she was doing, and did it succesfully.
  7. Chickenmaven

    Chickenmaven Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 6, 2009
    Yes, you are the human. I think you should take the initiative and put them in the coop when a heavy storm is forecast. Makes a whole lot more sense than trying to figure out what the chicken was thinking... [​IMG]

    I was wondering why it took you 3 or 4 days to check on your birds. Did they have water & food?
  8. lalaland

    lalaland Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 26, 2008
    Pine County MN
    I've had chickens refuse to go back into the coop because they got caught in snow, and wouldn't cross snow to get to the coop.

    I do think it is worth counting your chickens at night, although it can get pretty hard when you have more than 20 - lots of recounts! [​IMG]
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Agreed- every time I count my 12 I get 13 or even 14...argh

    Glad to hear your hen was okay, that's a neat thing to know. Even with a roofed run I have to circle the perimeter to make sure no one is under the platform or behind a barrier...[​IMG]
  10. phrank

    phrank Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2008
    Quote:Plenty of food and water and I checked them every day. Just didnt think a chicken would bury themselves completely under 2 feet of snow.
    Didnt start snowing heavy until about 7 or 8 pm, well after sunset, so i assumed they had already made it back to the coop, and since in the last 7 years they have always made it back to the coop before dark, I had no reason to believe the other day was an exception.

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