First heavier snow with chickens

Eva2020

Songster
Sep 6, 2020
205
290
111
Berkshire County, MA
I was getting excited about the foot of snow we will probably get this wednesday night/thursday, but now I'm a little worried about my girls. We got them in march and had a couple of snowfalls after we got them but we always just locked them in the coop for the day because they were so small. However now, I'm not sure what to do. A foot seems like a lot. I live in the city and don't have a garage and the basement is under construction. How can I prepare? What should I do if it's too snowy for them to be outside?
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
34,436
71,035
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
I was getting excited about the foot of snow we will probably get this wednesday night/thursday, but now I'm a little worried about my girls. We got them in march and had a couple of snowfalls after we got them but we always just locked them in the coop for the day because they were so small. However now, I'm not sure what to do. A foot seems like a lot. I live in the city and don't have a garage and the basement is under construction. How can I prepare? What should I do if it's too snowy for them to be outside?

How many chickens?

How big is your coop?

Do you have a covered run?

And where you live, is snow a 1 day thing, or a 3 month thing?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,759
144,155
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SW Michigan
My Coop
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How can I prepare?
Get out your snow shovel.
Is your omlet run covered?
I live in New York City. We originally got our chickens as 4 week olds in March when the pandemic hit. At the time, we were at our country house in the Berkshires (Western MA). They had a pretty small coop, and we got an omlet coop and run about a month after. We came back to NYC in August (and deconstructed, packed into our car, and reconstructed our omlet coop and run)
 

Annalyse

Songster
Mar 24, 2020
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New Jersey
I got my flock in March well Feb 29 but we count it as a march. Well, we covered the chicken wired parts of the run with clear plastic. You can use clear table cloth but it is plastic or anything plastic and clear tarp like material. W have a roof on my run so if you have a roof good, if not then I suggest you get one. Put some hay down into the run so they don't have to step onto cold dirt. If you have time every morning fill their water with hot water and it should be good until the next morning and you'd have to do it again. Give them scratch 1-2 tablespoons every morning no more than that, them digesting it keeps them warm. Make sure they are in a dry area.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,072
22,792
907
Southeast Louisiana
I find that photos sometime help. When I can I leave the pop door open and let them decide if they want to come out or not. A few years back we had an ice storm and I literally could not open the pop door without doing serious damage so they were stuck inside that day and the next.

I took this photo when it was 4* F. I know your question is snow and not cold, but cold is not really an issue for them. If a cold wind were blowing they would not be outside but on a calm day cold does not keep them inside.

Ice.jpg


My chickens do not like change. When mine wake up to a white world they are not going outside immediately. If I leave the pop door open it may take the bold ones two or three days to venture outside, some never do. I think it helps if they have a reason to go outside, like to forage.

This snow did not start to fall until after they were already outside. The change was gradual enough that they never bothered going inside. This is only an inch, not what you will be seeing, but you can see how cold their feet are and how much the snow itself scares them. Not at all. The wind was not blowing that day, it was a beautiful day.

Snow Feb 2013.JPG


The most snow I've seen with chickens has been 9". That fell overnight. It took them three days before any wandered outside. A couple waded through 9" of snow to check out the compost pile, they were used to finding food there. They were out of luck that day. A few made treks to other favorite spots, it was easy to follow their trails. Some even went out to wander in the snow seemingly at random but I think they were pecking at grass that was sticking up through the snow. Even the bold adventurous ones spent most of their time in the coop.

What should I do if it's too snowy for them to be outside?

Personally I give them the option to do what they want. They may be OK in your coop or they may not. There is a lot more involved with that than square feet per chicken. They may be OK outside. If it gets violent inside due to crowding some might decide to go outside.

Before it snows can you shelter the run to keep snow out? That's not just above, snow will blow in from the sides. Putting something up to block wind may be a big benefit. Mine really do not like a cold wind. From what I've heard this storm has a lot of wind with it so any wind block needs to be strong.

Perhaps you can shovel the snow out afterwards or spread bedding on top of it so they have a place to walk. Putting pallets or lumber on top of the snow to give them a place to go might be good.

I wish you luck.
 

Abriana

Spicy Sugar Cookie
Apr 26, 2017
5,126
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Midgard
Most of my previous flock did NOT like snow, they liked to eat it but not step in it. I have some adventurous and energetic pullets so we shall see how this year goes. I think my ducks will have a blast. We are supposed to get 7+ inches on Wednesday where I live.

I always would clear a small patch around the ramp and around the waterer and make a little perimeter where they normally walk, like by the chicken door and ramp. Most of them would stay snuggled under the coop anyway. Especially if they have never seen it before they will be nervous about it, and might actually want to stay in the coop (mine always did, except for one or two usually. Sometimes I would leave them in, and sometimes I would just make them go out because I didn’t want to be moving food and water back and forth, or worrying about the one who’s outside not having food and water).
 

Eva2020

Songster
Sep 6, 2020
205
290
111
Berkshire County, MA
We had a little sprinkle of snow last week, not much at all, which they were fine with. The coop is 9-12 sq ft (I'm not exactly sure) so they sleep and lay in it but otherwise they are outside since it isn't very big. This is supposed to be the most snow we've had in years, 8-12in (which I know is nothing to some people) but I guess we'll see. Would wrapping tarps around the tops and sides help? Or like a clear shower curtain type thing?
 

Eva2020

Songster
Sep 6, 2020
205
290
111
Berkshire County, MA
The problem with tarping the run is, if the snow is not shed off, the weight of the snow might collapse the run.

Is your coop a little omelet coop and run?

Might be easier to let it snow, shovel a clear patch, and move the coop onto the shoveled spot.
It is an omlet coop with a 13ft run. It's very sturdy, I don't think it would collapse but I could always push it off the top. But you're an alaskan, i'm sure you know best haha
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,483
13,164
656
western South Dakota
And if you can't but a shelter out of your run, collapsing from the weight of snow is a real problem. But you could make a little shelter IN the run, with just plywood. A place to get out of the wind outside.

A trick that works well for me, is I use old hay in the run as bedding. Before a snow storm, I rake it up into mini haystacks. After the snow, I use a pitchfork to flip the stacked hay on top of the snow, and mine come right out.

Mrs K
 

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