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Free Range in Snowy Weather: What do you do?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mobius, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    It is snowing here, and I have about a foot of snow on the ground, and chickens and I are new to how to be chickens in winter.

    I am not shoveling much, so what I have done is scatter straw to make little pathways. They are following the paths and foraging in the wheat straw. They have creatively made a dustbath in a non-snow-covered garden bed behind their coop and run, and the chickens always want out and spend a lot of their day there these days.

    I also have a mountain ash tree with berries on it still, and I pull some down for them every day or two so they get some semblance of foraging.

    I scatter a little cut up fruit on the straw also or other goodies. They are starting to walk on the snow a lot more and are venturing out now...

    What do you all do to keep your chickens out and about? So they aren't so penned up? It has already been a long winter (IMO) but we are getting through it!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    Same as you, I put down hay for forage and to walk on. Thankfully I have a large shed so there's plenty of room even if they don't go out. Mine also get scratch twice a day to keep them busy.
     
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  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    My flock has a sun room in one part of their run. covered over and protected on 3 sides with a green house tarp. Lots of leaves for them to shuffle through. I toss a qt. of wheat sprouts in the leaves every morning.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Consider playing a couple Hay bales so they Block N Wind From Hay already scattered on ground.
     
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  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Heavy arrow indicates wind direction. Scatter whole grain among loose hay / straw.


    [​IMG]
     
  6. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    absolutely lovely! Thanks so much! My little yard becoming a true operation!
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    For years now I've situated the dog's living/sleeping area and where they get water in the winter months around the coop, so when they trample down the snow in these places it makes great paths for the chickens. The dogs also break trail down to the shed and also to the corner of the garden, then over to the woods where they do their elimination needs. I've had three feet of snow on the ground before and never had to shovel a single pathway for the chickens or myself due to the dog's work on that chore.

    There's a large lounging area under the shed porch and there are downed trees over in the edge of the woods where the chickens can find spots to stand out of the snow and two porch areas on either end of the coop for dusting and standing in the sunlight and such as well. Mine don't mind going out in a couple inches of snow and they will be out all day in that, even foraging through the leaves in that....any deeper than 6 in. or so and they will still go out but won't stay out as long.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Check these images. A few years back. immediately upon moving into current home I had almost no constructed resources for keeping chickens. They were kept free-range to the extreme with some spending the first three years roosting on front porch. Beyond pens used for broodfowl a roost as made for American Dominiques. Design was based on what I could get easily, wooden pallets and straw bales. Pallets gave birds an elevated place to stand that was in sun and off cold snow. Bales, in addiition to providing windbreaks were used as feeding stations where a component of the diet was spread on top of bale. Each bale had something different; shell corn, BOSS, oats, milo, wheat, or complete feed. This encouraged birds to move about. Some flew very well as typical of breed. Bales were particularly important hen snow as deeper than a couple feet. Pallets also put out by themselves in cover patches.

    Birds used versions like this well.

    [​IMG]


    Intended purpose for design above is as shown below. Setup worked pretty well and could be modified to protect against Great-horned Owl. Not pretty and chickens liked to eat it.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    This a an American Dominique having to invest considerable effort walking through snow. Greater than 6" is a problem and signs of discomfort obvious.
    [​IMG]

    This what chickens that can do to avoid walking through the snow. In this case flying back to roost from straw bale they hung around most of the day. Action starts around 1:45.
    [VIDEO]


    Hay pile in cover patch provided by Sweet Sumac. Birds loafed there much of day. If given the following 3 choices: hay pile, cover patch, hay pile in cover patch; then the latter is what the use.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    If I know snow is coming, I pitch all the bedding (old hay) in a mini hay stack, then flip it over on top of the snow. Generally here, we just try winter on. We get snow, it melts off, and we get snow again. This year, we have been solid white since before Christmas!

    Mrs K
     

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