Chickens & Snow - do they get used to it, or do they always hate it?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by vermontgal, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Of course my girls think the snow is scary. I have seen photos of chickens hanging out in the snow. It is likely to be snowy at my house from now until ~early April.

    Question - will the chickens get used to the snow? Will they always try to find places where there isn't much snow (right next to the house). With only 2-3" of snow, they don't like to step in it. They are going to have to get used to 18-24". I can understand their not wanting to step in to the point they can't waddle around - but 2-3" is nothing.

    If I want my chickens to become snow-confident - any tips?
  2. SussexInSeattle

    SussexInSeattle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2008
    This should be interesting if you get some replies, I have wondered about this myself. Everytime I have picked up a chicken this Fall, their feet have been freezing cold. Except my Buff Brahma with her massively feathery feet, hers are always warm. I wonder if when these current pullets that you have outgrow their laying days, maybe you can replace them with these cold-hardy breeds that have tiny combs and feathery feet?
  3. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    Mine don't like the deep snow, but if I can shovel it out of their pen, they will go out into the shallow stuff. I don't know that they ever get used to it, though.
  4. mrandmrschicken

    mrandmrschicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2008
    NW IA
    Their desire to get outside should eventually cause them to venture out. If you toss out some scratch, it may help. My pullets did not like it first either. I tried to toss them out into it and they flew right back and landed on my shoulders, or flew on to something off the ground. Anything! It was okay after a while.
  5. estpr13

    estpr13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2008
    Lexington, Ky
    We don't get much snow here in Kentucky. The first true snow last year was about 2-3 inches. My hens were use to being let out every morning and when I did they tumbled out in a mad rush like they always do.

    The first hen to hit the snow squalked like she had been bitten, and half flew in a semi-circle to get back into the coop. They were very leary of the stuff but since I was taking it calmly they ventured out into it.

    Grain on the snow helped them to dig into it and taste it. They found out that normal conditions were underneith. I don't know if they got use to it because it was gone in a couple of days. But that first squalk of suprise was unforgetable. [​IMG]
  6. rdranch

    rdranch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2007
    The first time ours saw snow was from the safety of the coop. I was funny seeing 7 or 8 chicken heads poking out the door wondering what to do. Now they are OK with it unless it's deep, then I go out and shovel most of it away.

    For the sake of their sanity I only shovel snow for them when they are still locked up in the coop. The shovel really freaks them out. Actually anything but food in my hands really freaks them out. [​IMG]
  7. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is where everyone else goes against what I had always thought. Hens do not have the ability to keep their middle toe from freezing or frost bite on their comb/wattles, so I have always kept the girls in allowing them to generate their own heat, draft free. When we get those days that the sun is sooo warm that we all want to melt, open it up to let them baste in the sun, usually sitting in the doorway.
    I do have a "porch" for them, closed in with clear plastic so they can see out, enjoy sun without having frozen feet.

    Everyone I have asked "do you let your hens out in winter" ...everyone I spoke with said yes. So I dunno, its not a matter of doing what everyone else does, but use your own judgement and discretion as I can say that I've seen any birds of mine scratching up the snow to find bugs! LOL

    Good luck and don't forget to toss the girls food grade wheat, oat , barley seeds along with some cracked corn. I also give ours cooked rice to dig for in the coop, it keeps them entertained and leaving each other alone. [​IMG]
  8. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We made a snow platform, an idea I saw at Circle Pond Farm website. Since our pop door had to be above a 3' concrete foundation, it made sense to have a platform indoors and out. So, they can avoid the snow, which they did at first. We alsmost had a pileup when the first hen saw what she was approaching! It's supported on concrete blocks, which are useful for beak-cleaning all year. We let the hens choose if they're going out and we value the pop door for ventilation even in frigid weather.

    We also installed snow boards yesterday after realizing how deep the run could fill with drifting snow even though it's roofed. No pics yet, waiting for more snow to see if it works.

    We had had 2 immense November storms- wet snow, blizzard conditions, yadda yadda. The first 2 days they were panicky, but now they now jump down onto a hay bale then into the snow, even climbing the bank where I shovelled in the run. It's a learning experience!

    All of this visible in link below:

    Oh and I don't plan to have a bucket of water out there when it gets bitter-cold, because I don't want freezing of combs and wattles. For some reason I have 2 hens who like to stick their heads underwater, blow bubbles and shake(?).




    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  9. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    Every Fall I put up sawhorses with old plywood across them to create a covered run for the chickens. Keeps an area fairly snow free where they can run back and forth from the pop-door to the covered area. A lot of times I find the birds on top of it, though, even when there's 3-4" of snow on it. [​IMG]
  10. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2008
    New Durham NH
    Quote:LOL, I have a couple adopted hens that are like that! We named one Henny Penny, cause she is always running around like the sky is falling! In the last 6 months tho, she has been exposed to everything on a daily basis, and she is getting better, as long as she is near Chester, and he is cooing, she does OK, sounds like you might want to expose your ladies to a bit more stimulus?

    As to the snow, Our multi aged flock has to deal with it 6 months out of the year, and they never really 'like' it. Even my Cochins hem and haw about going out in it, but eventually give in to the stir crazy-ness. We do have to keep them shoveled out, and my hope is to one day build a sturdy cover over thier run, (sigh). But for now, they run thru the trails we keep shoveled, and spend the winter on one of our covered porches (yuck) and I hose it off when ever I can get the sun to thaw that hose. I suppose I could keep them cooped up in thier run, but I am too much of a softy for that.

    I do see them going back into the coop on a regular basis, could be for the water and food, or for the nice sunny white heat light that comes on automatically, to keep the coop sunny, warm and dry?

    Hope that helps?!
    Good Luck!

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