Does snow confuse chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by navychick, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. navychick

    navychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2011
    We live in Michigan and it has been very cold and sporadically snowy. Every morning I let our flock out to free range. On cold snowy days i shovel a path from their coop/run to our large covered back porch where they hang out for the day. If the weather warms they wander if its cold they stick to the porch area. When evening approaches I have noticed that 1 or 2 don't return to the coop with the others. Which is not their normal behavior. This seems to be when we have snow on the ground. I wonder if the bright snow interferes with their perception of darkness. Anyone else with this problem?
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm not sure whether it confuses them or not, but I know mine don't like to "cross" it. When we had snow last week, it warmed enough to mostly melt off the driveway, but not off the grass. My bantams seemed at a loss as to how to get back to the coop/run, stood there at the edge of the driveway with their coop not 15-20 feet away. They half flew/half hopped to try to span the distance without touching the snow. Since two of them are silkies, they didn't make You would have thought that snow was scalding water based on their cries of outrage and based on how quickly they jumped back up to get to the run doorway. It sounds like your girls don't want to brave the snow either... [​IMG]
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I find that when mine first see snow, they avoid it, like they usually avoid anything new. Here any snow we get usually melts in a day or so, but last year a few different times we had some that stuck around. Some got used to it. I had a couple that waded through 9" of snow to check out the compost pile, to see if I'd put anything new there. Most got to where they would go out in the snow and forage as long as the grass and weeds were still sticking up through it.

    I don't know if confuse is the right word, but mine certainly avoid it until they have a chance to get used to it.
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    In my experience snow does seem to disorient some chickens. Generally once they have seen several storms or seasons of storms they adapt, but some never do.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Mine do not like to walk in snow. Presumably because they sink into it and their feet get cold. Of mine that can, they will delay departure from roost by at least an hour and will fly over rather than walk on snow. Some will fly over 200 feet from one feediing location to another for food.

    The confusion theory sounds very plausible as well since some birds that have not been exposed to it previously still avoid touching the stuff.
  6. TinyLittleFarm

    TinyLittleFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2010
    Yep. My husband always says that the chickens think snow is lava. I have one brave girl begging at the back door for treats. The rest of them only go outside to run underneath the coop. They hate snow. They will reluctantly go in the snow if tempted with a really really good treat. I don't really think it confuses them though. They just don't like it.
  7. gordonburrito

    gordonburrito Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2010
    In order for our hens to even consider walking on snow (even in small amounts) there needs to be several days to being cooped up without a melt. That doesn't happen too often in Missouri. I open their coop up and they're like..... What?!? Are you crazy? I'm not stepping into that, shut the door it's cold!!!!
  8. 5chicks4us

    5chicks4us Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 30, 2011
    I don't think they are confused. They're pretty smart actually. Snow is freaking cold! I wouldn't want to be out there barefoot either. [​IMG] My chicken refuse to touch the snow. They will eat it sometimes, but only if their feet are on dirt. They fly from their ladder to their outdoor roosting bar and cover up their tootsies with their bodies if they decide to go outside.

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