Do chickens like snow?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gtaus, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    This is my first winter with laying hens. Every morning I go outside and open up the pop door on the coop to let the chickens out into their uncovered run. Usually they bolt for the open door and are outside in no time.

    Last night we got about 1 inch of new snow, so the chicken run ground area was completely covered in white snow this morning. When I opened the pop door, the girls ran to the opening, stopped, looked around, and then did not go outside. It's not a big deal for me as I have all their food and water in the coop itself. So they don't need to go outside.

    It's been over an hour since I opened up their pop door and not one of my ten hens has ventured outside. I am wondering if next year I should make the run covered, or at least partially covered, to encourage them to get some fresh air outside. They don't seem to like a snow covered chicken run.
     
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  2. TheChiggens

    TheChiggens The Cluckmazing Factor

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    I know mine find it curious and sometimes like to eat. :D But most of the time they play "The floor is lava" and try not to touch it. :lau
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Chickens don't like change. Waking up to a newly white world is a big change. When that happens to mine they don't go out in it for a couple of days. But eventually some do go out. Not all of them but some. I think it helps if they have some reason to go out, like grass or seeds might be sticking up through it so they can forage some or they might go to areas where they usually get forage, like my compost pile.

    A few years back the snow fell during the day. Since they were already out the change as gradual enough that they never went in.

    Snow Feb 2013.JPG

    Some people scatter bedding on top of the snow to get them to go out. If it is bedding that they are used to they will probably go out. If it is strange bedding you might be back to waiting a couple of days.

    Just to point out, you can see how much the cold snow bothers their feet. Not at all.
     
  4. GodofPecking

    GodofPecking Songster

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    you could start by covering the yard with 80% blancmange on the first day then cut back to 5% so they have to go out to look for it, eventually they'll just go out to be sure if there is none or not. I would.

    You can use rice if you can't cook enough blancmange.

    white rice, not brown, so it looks like snow. You want to fool them remember.
     
  5. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    Very true. My chickens had no problem going outside when there was some small amount of snow on the ground, but plenty of leaves poking up through the snow dusting. They even stayed outside one day while it was lightly snowing. I imagine they are rethinking things today waking up to a white world outside. Maybe they will venture out in a day or two, but there is nothing out in the run for them other than snow at present. I do have a compost pile in the chicken run, but that too is covered with about 1 inch of snow.

    I have saved some bagged leaves for the winter, and will probably throw some out later in the winter on a nice day. I'm sure that will encourage them to venture outside.

    Depending on how things go with the chickens and the snow this winter, next year I may build a covered run, or at least a partially covered run, where the chickens can venture outside and walk on the fall leaves. This year I was just happy to build my fenced in area and put bird netting on top to protect them from the eagles and hawks.
     
  6. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    That's what I'm seeing today. Don't touch that white stuff outside, it may kill you.....
     
  7. CindyinSD

    CindyinSD Free Ranging

    My original chickens would never go out on the snow unless I scattered bedding on it, and then only on the bedding and not as the snow was falling. They were September babies and though they had all of a very long winter, never got over that big white scary blanket.

    Now I have quite a number of new pullets as well as young turkey hens. The jennies don’t give a fig about the snow. The new pullets have followed their turkey girlfriends, as have the original hens. There are always a few in the coop, but not always the same few. They range more on spotty snow than on a full blanket, though there are always a few who don’t mind the snow at all and even come back bearing mice as their dinners. (Good girls!!!)

    On seriously cold days, they all, even the drakes, willingly stay home. I think it’s the (ridiculously unseasonable) subzero cold that bothers them physically and the objections to snow seem to be mostly psychological.

    That said, a covered and well bedded run can hardly be a bad thing.
     
  8. erehwon

    erehwon Chirping

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    We can easily have up to and over three foot deep snow here so as soon as it starts falling we dig runs around the garden for all the animals to use. We scatter hay immediately outside their coops and also put a few piles containing treats for them to discover as they wander around also we keep patches of grass snow free for the ducks and geese to eat. It is great fun watching the different groups follow each other around, chickens, ducks and geese often followed by the rabbits and the dog especially as the snow gets deeper and you can only just see the odd head moving along. None of them seem to mind it but it is the freezing cold that always concerns us, frostbite is always a concern but thankfully we have only ever had one minor case.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Some of mine don't seem to mind it one bit, most the others stay inside, or under the coop...almost all of them love to nosh on the snow banks, frostbiting their wattles.
     
  10. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    I'm thinking about different ways to provide a covered run, or at least a partially covered run for the girls for next winter. Probably don't want to make it too big as last winter we had 3 to 4 foot snow banks. That would be pretty heavy on the roofing unless well made. Unfortunately, well made usually means $$$$.
     

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