do you do anything in the winter to keep your chickens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by stone_family3, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. stone_family3

    stone_family3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2011

    I have six chickens who will be indoors mostly. They have a pretty big space 8' x 10' shed.
  2. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    I get Flock Blocks from the feed store - they're basically GIANT suet/grain blocks or so, about the size of a cube mineral block.

    I fling BOSS or scratch all over to make them hunt around and peck for it.

    They get daily food scraps from the kitchen.

    Mine stayed in the coop pretty much from December to March straight, and no one was worse for the wear [​IMG]
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    To enrich environment structurally, provide elevated perches at different heights promoting flight. Think like used for parrots. Provide little platforms with food items of different types to encourage foraging. With roosters in keep, I will also provide treats (i.e. mealworms) that encourages them to fly up to me for food, hens can be treated the same. Give them greens daily to keep digestive tract on rythym. Make certain they have dustbathing station.

    Some of my birds are handled routinely which seems to help fire their brains up with needed stimuli.

    About a 1/3 of my birds free range all winter. Somedays they seem concerned only with staying alive. On warm days they blow off steam and dustbath or range farther. They do seem bored from time to time but I think it is actually and energy conservation measure. Chickens are extremely good at conserving energy.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Just about one day in three is a sunny day, even in the winter. On those days, let them out. They'll fuss around, won't go too far, but the sunlight and fresh air breaks up the time for them. Even if they do little more than walk the path you've shoveled out to the coop. I never miss letting them out on sunny days. There are far too many days when you cannot because of snow, rain, blowing at hurricane force, etc.
  5. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    My girls are out all winter, rain or snow. I really only make them stay in if it is just plain nasty out <high winds/heavy snow etc and I don't want to be in it [​IMG] >

    They have food and water inside, hanging apples/cabbage/broccoli. They get flock blocks and melons, and lots of BOSS to dig thru the bedding for. They always want to be outside, so they will go out if the door is open but they don't stay out long. I think its good for them to be able to have the choice. I take them out hot mash/oatmeal in the am, and other various busy work veggies like hanging corn. I also make chicken cookies lol basically just mixing the powder from the feed with whole grains etc and making a little dough out of it and baking it a few min till crispy. It works lol

    They are not really into "toys" per se...but they do love their food...and if you can keep them occupied in food that takes a while to get they will be happy. I did find a chicken ball the one time online... cant remember what it was but essentially you fill it full of BOSS or whatever kind of larger seeds, and as they kick the ball around they have treats fall out for them to get.

    Just really make sure the coop is dry and free of drafts, and that they have fresh liquid water and dry food, and let them choose when to go out when at all possible and they will be fine.

    BTW my coop is unheated...they did great in 7 degree overnight weather with only a heater in the water to keep it thawed.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Mine free ranged all year round, so they didn't get bored too often, I imagine....but there were snow days when the snow was deeper than the pop door and the door into the coop. Those days they would choose to stay indoors. Deep litter and some BOSS provided all the entertainment they could need....also got my litter turned, fluffed, piled, unpiled and basically worked to the max. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  7. thesweetone

    thesweetone Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 8, 2011
    Guelph, Ontario
    What is BOSS?

    I love the idea of hanging veggies for them to pick at. Our winters can be sometimes be pretty nasty and very long (November through April if we're really unlucky) and I'd love to have Chanteclers so having more entertainment ideas would be great!
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Black Oil Sunflower Seeds....BOSS. Looks like bugs and easy to find in light tan/yellow bedding....most other grains are hard to find in deep litter, so BOSS makes the best scratch and find seed to throw down.
  9. MommyMagpie

    MommyMagpie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2011
    Salem/Jarvisville, WV
    We let ours out every day, even in the rain. We have fixed the door so it can be held in one of two positions during the day - one position for good weather and one for inclement weather. There are lots of things in our yard for them to shelter under if they don't want to go back into the coop, which most of the time they don't. This will be the first winter for our two new girls so I don't know how they will like the snow, but the older ones seemed a bit bewildered by it. I figure that even though we provide housing and food/water, we try to keep their lives as 'natural' as possible to promote good attitudes and we do seem to have rather happy chickens.[​IMG]
  10. pmchefsherry

    pmchefsherry New Egg

    May 22, 2012
    I live in southern PA and winters here are so, so. Our coop is Amish Built and is just stick built and raised off the ground about 1 foot. This is our first winter with chickens and I'm curious if there is something special we should do to the coop to make it more comfortable for our 4 girls as the weather cools down? I've also read your posts about spreading the BOSS around for them to forage in. Do you mean in the coop on the floor in the bedding?


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