feeding your flock snow in the winter months?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by GrandaddyBonegrinder, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. GrandaddyBonegrinder

    GrandaddyBonegrinder Hatching

    Dec 9, 2008

    Watering chickens in below freezing temps…

    I have 5 Golden Comets – 1 year old

    My chicken coop has no electric running to it, nor do I really want to run electric there. We live in western NY so solar not really a good option either.

    My water freezes up in about 2-3 hours in the winter, so I took to giving them a big, fat cabbage every other day and a big pan of fresh snow every day…

    They seem to prefer the snow to the water now, have never molted or stopped laying… seem too be doing fine…

    Has anyone else tried feeding your flock snow in the winter months?

    Just wondering…

    At your service,
  2. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Songster

    Mar 25, 2011
    S.E. Michigan
    Mine have plenty of snow if they want it lol but, they still prefer their heated water to eatting snow.
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Well since you said that you put the snow in a, "big pan" and not a," big bucket" I go out on a limb here and say that your bird aren't getting near the "water" they should.

    The average rule of thumb for snow to water is a 10:1 ratio, that mean for every 10 inches of snow you should get 1 inch of water or for every 10 gallons of snow you could get 1 gallon of water.

    Lets just say that your getting 1 gallon of water from 10 gallons of snow, that would mean that your birds are getting a little less than 1 cup of water a day, the average is around 1.26 cups a day per hen.
    That would mean that you hens need to consume around 11 gallons of snow a day to meat the average water intake.
  4. NacientNeedle

    NacientNeedle In the Brooder

    Apr 25, 2014
    Well, I feed my girls each morning and give them a fresh bowl of water - I do not give them another bowl of water in the evening as by the time I get home to lock them in they are already roosting and I doubt they will come down in the dark to get a drink. They are usually thirsty in the morning when I come with the fresh water and I have seen them eat/drink snow when I let them out. They are pretty tough - they won't come out in the snow unless they can find some patch of dirt to linger on so they've been cooped up for the past 2 or three weeks with all the snow we've been getting. They seem happy enough and look forward to the little extras I give them - like cooked brown rice, stale bread soaked in a little milk or oatmeal - I like them to have a nice warm bowl of something in the mornings...and they're still laying 3 to 5 eggs a day. I think keeping a bowl of snow in the coop is a good idea - I hadn't thought of that!

    Any other opinions on that? - can't think of any reason why it would harm them and they would always have a water source when their bowl freezes.
  5. RonP

    RonP Crowing

    I'll second what Chris09 said.

    My small flock of 10 goes through about 2 gallons of water around every 2-3 days...
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    As the only source of water, probably not a good idea. But in addition to a big bowl of water, and as an alternative water source for when that bowl freezes, it's better than nothing. Is there no way you can get more water to them later in the day though? My ladies seem to like to tank up before bed.
  7. NacientNeedle

    NacientNeedle In the Brooder

    Apr 25, 2014
    oh my - is that a fox in your hen house??? Roger that - more water for the girls then - thank you.
  8. NacientNeedle

    NacientNeedle In the Brooder

    Apr 25, 2014
    I smell a new after school chore for one of my boys - one of them could give them a fresh bowl at 3pm
  9. JJSS89

    JJSS89 Songster

    May 14, 2014
    E Washington
    To keep them alive that is fine, I meant when it freezes that is all that wild birds can do.

    I would encourage you to find an alternative for long term health of your chickens.

    The 11 gallons a day comment is a little extreme. If your snow is extremely powdery then that might be the case but snow compacts pretty quickly and is denser than that. Of course it would never hurt for them to have more water on hand than they need.
  10. RonP

    RonP Crowing

    Actually Chris09
    rule of thumb is correct, according to Quote:


    The snow to liquid equivalent is the amount of liquid precipitation that is produced after melting snow. The temperature profile of the troposphere and the surface temperature are important factors that determine this value. The "average" snow to liquid ratio is 10:1. This is saying that if 10 inches of snow fell and that snow was melted it would produce 1 inch of liquid precipitation in the rain gauge.

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