Free Range in Two Feet of Snow?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2009
    West Central WI
    I see lots of posts mentioning free-ranging birds in northern tier United States. States like mine that get a lot of snow and the grass is not seen till late February. Some of these posts sound like they expect the birds to be able to find a lot of their own food out there.

    Am I just reading these wrong? I just don't see my birds foraging and finding much in the deep snow. The wild pheasants, quail and grouse have a devil of a time surviving in wilderness areas, I'm thinking my flock will find less food in the yard / garden / field environment I'm in.

    Right now there is a 3-foot drift of snow across the pop-door, and I don't think the family will be keen on shoveling a way for the birds to get out. We'll feed hay and cabbage and meat scraps in addition to bought feed. They'll have to wait for a thaw to get to grass.
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    We don't get those deep snows anymore and, when we get any snow, it doesn't last. When we do have snow, the birds go out or stay in, their choice. When they stay in I provide some scratching fun by throwing BOSS in their deep litter and added greens to their feed mix by adding rabbit feed.
  3. dacdeihl

    dacdeihl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2009
    NorthEast, In
    I wouldn't worry too much. As long as they have room to move around in the coop.
  4. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Intersting about the rabbit feed for the greens...never thought about that!!

    Don't the rabbit pellets foods have salt in them tho....?

    For some reason I am wondering how safe that is for the girls to have that salt there. Or is it too little to matter compared to the normal feed?
  5. Keara

    Keara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2009
    I'll admit to shoveling paths, and letting the chickens out in all weather. I live in north central Vermont. But I know they eat alot more food, cuz they are getting very little from froraging. Unless you count my nieghbors bird feeders as foraging! I tend to start adding corn to their layer feed this time of year, for extra calories. I'll also put a wind break of hay bales by the chicken door. This year I built a new coop on a old trailer bed. About 3 weeks ago we pulled it under the pole barn where there is two walls and a roof, so little to no snow in there. Also it is closer to an electriacal outlet for the water heater. My main concern in the winter is that the coop stays clean and dry! Otherwise the birds seem to do just find chosing which days to go out and which to stay in.
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Quote:Don't know....couldn't hurt them. I've been doing it for years with no ill effects, so I can't imagine it having enough salt to hurt a chicken.
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We put up snow boards on our run, and another thing that is possible is to create a porch around the pop door. But realistically, in your climate, having birds inside is a fact of life. For one thing, keeping the coop comfortable and safe may depend on it. And the waterers, oh the waterers![​IMG]
  8. Fancie

    Fancie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2008
    mine free range all year... however when there is snow on the groubd they typically stay in the coop or in the trees untill it's feeding time. If it gets really cold I bring them in and keep them in the garage untill the cold spell is over. But free ranging right now is more for excersize than food imo.

    I feed my chickens rabbit food once... no ill effects. I found out later they are just alphalpa pellets... so I'm not sure if there was any point to it.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    The point is that alfalfa is greens, so it's like feeding your chickens mini hay bales when they cannot otherwise find any nutritious grasses on which to feed. This keeps them happy, keeps their eggs rich and orange, and this keeps ME happy! [​IMG]
  10. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Yeah...they're going to find less in any area where it gets really cold, even if there's not a lot of snow. With the bugs gone and the grass dying, I would think most folks who typically free range have to feed quite a bit more over the winter months. I think some will try breaking open a straw bale and scattering that on top of the snow to help with exercise/boredom issues. But with two feet of snow, you'd be doing a LOT of shoveling just to get them out onto a place where they could walk around on top of straw... [​IMG] Hope you have a roomy coop!

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