chickens drink snow.....who knew?!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dsc6, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. dsc6

    dsc6 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 16, 2009
    The last couple of very cold days when I have let the chickens out of the hen house for a little free ranging, I have been following them all over with a bucket of warm water, which they have poitely ignored. Well, after I saw a couple of them eating snow--now I know why, lol.
  2. sgtmom52

    sgtmom52 Birds & Bees

    While chickens will eat snow ~ it is not enough to provide them adequate water and they still need to have fresh water daily to stay healthy.
  3. jmagill

    jmagill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2009
    Western Wyoming
    My chickens choose snow over water when it is not too cold outside ( over 25 degrees F ) They actually shun the water if snow is available.
    If it gets colder they go right back to the water.
  4. Organics North

    Organics North Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2009
    Wisconsin Northwoods
    Quote:Wow again I need to second your notion...

    My experience is if they can get to snow they drink very little water... My birds have 24x7 access to heated water via nipples, also AM and PM traditional water bowl which I dump the ice and refill am and pm.. I also provide snow and they can go outside the covered run and get snow... When I go in the coop the birds attack my boots and eat the snow.. They prefer it...

    SO my birds mostly eat snow. Yes they like some open water too.. But snow is a good back up.

  5. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2010
    The other day, I flipped a big half-inch circle of ice out the water bowl. It shattered on the ground, and the chickens promptly began eating it!

    I had been surprised on other mornings to see them sucking up the freezing water as soon as I smashed the ice...
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    When I go into the coop with snow on my boots they are all over it. I will also toss snow balls in and it is like they're getting treats. While it won't replace having water, it is a fun time for them. Funny though, when they go outside they aren't that crazy for it.
  7. ZombieChickens

    ZombieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    But when people eat snow, thinking we are hydrating ourselves, our bodies actually heat up in order to "melt" the snow, and actually burn off any liquid that we've taken in. Is this true for birds?
  8. dsc6

    dsc6 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 16, 2009

    That isn't true, about burning off the fluid because of the energy used to melt the snow. The physiology of it just doesn't work that way, not for people, other mammals, or for chickens.

    Think about it in terms of drinking ice water, or iced tea, or any other cold drink. The H2O used in the process of creating the heat energy to bring the cold liquid to body temperature is miniscule & microscopic compared to the volume of cold fluid ingested. And, if what you said is true, we'd ALL die of thirst during the winter--all that extra water used up keeping our bodies warm.

    I think chickens could well take in enough snow to meet their fluid needs if they have access to it and if they like it. Just like you and I could survive using snow as our source of water if we wanted to or had to.

    I watched my chickens for 4 hours free ranging yesterday. They ate snow as often as they would have drank water. Completely ignored the water all that time. They do indeed seem to love snow. Of course, as their food/water provider, I have learned that their whims change like the fleeting breezes. And the outside temperature might affect whether or not they are inclined to eat snow. I doubt if a chicken would die of thirst surrounded by snow, but who knows what's laid down in their genes?? They sure loved the shaved ice I gave them during the summer. Just like me--would rather eat crushed ice than drink water any day, even in the dead of winter. I like my water solid and chewable, lol. Maybe they are the same in that? The variety of feeling the cold snow in their beak, then actually swallowing the cold semisolid mass. Or maybe it's like kids playing in the snow who have never seen snow before--the novelty factor.

    I hope those darned chickens would be smart enough to drink nice warm water if the weather REALLY got cold, like in sub zero temps, rather than chowing down on snow.

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