During the winter do you keep food and water inside the coop? and how do you get them outside?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ElCerritoPlace, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. ElCerritoPlace

    ElCerritoPlace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2013
    This is my first winter in WI with chickens, and its been a "great" winter so far. My biggest concern is that my chickens don't go outside the coop unless I chase them out on nice days (when it gets up to 32F). I kicked them out of the coop this last weekend and they went crazy dust bathing under the coop, its sheltered and no snow under it. I had also thrown a bunch of leaves under there this fall. The rest of the area has snow on the ground, but we had shoveled an area off in front of the coop so it wasn't deep snow. I keep food and water in the coop since the first snow fall. This summer I kept water outside, but once we got snow it froze too quickly and the chickens never came outside anyways.

    So do they not come out because of the snow, or because there is no food or water out? My neighbors have chickens and I see them outside all the time, whether its sunny or not, or even if its single digits but not windy. How do I encourage them to get outside?

    thanks!
     
  2. TTracy

    TTracy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls do not like the cold and the snow for sure!! They would like nothing more than to stay in the barn all winter long, that being said, I only feed/water them outside. I feel its healthier for them to be forced outside. When its really cold I will put water both outside and inside. To encourage them to go out, in the morning I bring them something special, like scrambled eggs or oatmeal, that they get outside.
     
  3. ElCerritoPlace

    ElCerritoPlace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I tried that early on giving them their fermented feed with hot oatmeal outside in the morning and keeping water outside but they didn't come out and everything froze solid. Granted I still had water and food inside the coop too. I do think its best if they come outside, but I'm worried that they won't come out side to get it now. Do you keep food and water outside all summer too and nothing in the coop?
     
  4. TTracy

    TTracy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, I keep their food and water outside in the summer too.
    My first winter with the girls was the same as yours, they never went out unless kicked out by me! I had started feeding them in the barn and that's where they wanted to stay. So after that winter I never fed them inside. You may have to just ride this winter out with them staying inside!
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Chicken Happy

    Chicken Happy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I put the feeder out where it is inconvenient for them - they must get away from the coop to eat. I also scatter their treats so they must forage to find it. However, I only do this when it is not raining or snowing. If the day is going to be horrid - they get fed inside, but only once a day. same for the h20 - it just freezes to quick outside.
     
  6. ElCerritoPlace

    ElCerritoPlace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2013

    Thats what I was thinking. Live an learn I guess.

    Do either of you have an enclosed run or run with a roof on it? Mine is not, so the only spot they have to not stand in snow is under the coop. I don't know if that makes a difference
     
  7. TTracy

    TTracy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Only part of our run has a roof. This is the first winter with it, and I can say my girls like it! We added it this fall and wrapped 3 sides with some blue tarp. This is where I feed and water them.
     
  8. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We feed and water outside of the coop. I refuse to let them have those in the coop, in part because our coop is rather small for our 13 birds (they have a very large outside run area), and also because it would be that much more poop I would have to clean!
    Their food is underneath a free from the side of the road picnic table that we mounted a sheet of metal roofing to to make it more waterproof and durable.
    Their water is also outside all seasons. We live in eastern WA, so it is rather cold here, and it is in a plug in dog bowl for them for winter, but I haven't had it plugged in in weeks, it freezes over, but they crack it, or I do when I let them outside for the day.
    They have a little covered area we gave them, that they will use on rainy days, and a bit for snow as well. Mostly they use it to dirt bathe in, as that dirt stays fairly dry. But to help them go out more in the snow, I keep the old straw from coop cleaning, along with pine straw I collect up, and I put that down over the snow for them, and they will go wander and play and forget about the snow much more readily this way. Then after they seem to not care anymore, I rake it up for use another time (which they like to go unpile, so that occupies them -in the snow, lol- even longer, lol.
    Also, like others said, putting treats out in the open areas helps them to forget they don't like the weather. But it seems to work better when they see you put the treats out.
    :)
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I always feed and water in the coop except for summer time when all the animals share a waterer outside. Keeping water and feed inside or outside has nothing to do with if your birds will like coming out in the weather...as you have found out. If this is their first winter they are unsure of what to do and what can be found out there. Most of the time with young birds, older birds show them the ropes about going out for winter exercise but if you have no older, experienced birds or if you have breeds that are not inclined to forage or birds that have not been encouraged to forage in the warmer months, then you may just have coop birds for the winter.

    Here's an idea....don't leave continuous feed in the coop for them. Why in the world would they want to go out if they have feed, water and a warm place to stay all day? I wouldn't go out!

    Close the buffet or only open it once a day, feed one set amount and the rest of the day they will need to hunt for tucker...even when there is snow outside. Throw out your kitchen garbage some ways from the coop and let them get the feel of "foraging" for it. Throw some scratch or BOSS out in the packed snow so they can "hunt" for food.

    Pretty soon they will go out on the off chance that there MAY be food out there, even when there isn't. Unless it's single digit weather and the wind is blowing them like leaves, my crew are out on the prowl for food. They also excavate the deep litter in the coop until it looks like it's been plowed. Yesterday it was 20 degrees and they had plowed under the snow and leaves all over almost an acre of land, looking for who knows what?

    Here's some pics of birds foraging in the snow and winter months...you just have to create opportunity, incentive and do a little training if you have young birds that don't have elder flockers to show them the ropes.

    [​IMG]

    These are the old gals....OLD. Many winters.

    [​IMG]

    These are the young gals with an old gal behind them....this is the young bird's first winter. The scrap pile is around 15 yards from the coop, so if they want any, they have to hoof it.

    [​IMG]

    They've already had their one meal for the day...breakfast. Now they are hunting up other opportunities for food.

    Below are oldsters, each and every one...and they are grazing white dutch clover planted in the garden in the fall...which will stay green all winter and provide a banquet whenever the ground is clear of snow.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Beautiful birds, Beekissed! :) Funny how so much of it is teaching them when there isn't an older bird to do it! :)
     

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