Free ranging in snow?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chattykathy306, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. chattykathy306

    chattykathy306 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2012
    So, I am feeling sorry for my girls, as they are confined to their run. We did expand it to include the area under the raised coop. It is much larger than what is necessary for 6 hens. They are used to being out for much of the day. So, now that it has snowed, do I really need to keep them confined like this?
     
  2. sniemeyer

    sniemeyer Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm not sure if this is feasible with your run, but before it snows i normally put a tarp over my run before it snows to give my girls some extra room to roam!
     
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  3. chattykathy306

    chattykathy306 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2012
    Actually, there is very little snow in the run itself. It has wire over the top, which had some leaves/pine needles stuck in it. So, the snow accumulated there. I am watching them right now, pecking around in there. They spend a lot of time in the adjacent area under the coop. My question was whether they could be let out of the run to roam the yard, or if they even would when there is snow. My husband and I were talking about where the natural habitat is for wild chickens and if it is a more tropical climate, where they wouldn't ordinarily be exposed to snow. I remember visiting Key West and being pleasantly surprised to find chickens running around there! Thanks for responding to my post!
     
  4. satay

    satay oz-e-chick

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    I have seen pictures of peoples chickens on here out in the snow. I think you would have to watch for frostbite though if they were out to long. Being that i come from a place of extreeme heat and no snow i have no personal experience but i am sure someone with better knowledge than me will come along to give you advice soon.
     
  5. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I let mine out. Some don't want to go out unless I toss down some shavings or spread out half a bag of leaves. Most of mine don't like walking in the snow, but many of them will and will go over under the bushes and dust bathe or lounge in a sunny spot. I have also taken the broom out and swept paths for them if it's just a little snow.

    After I either sweep or throw out a ground cover, then I will toss some grain out and they have a grand ol' time. I have never seen a case of frostbite on their feet, not that it couldn't happen. They seem happy as clams and go back to the run or the coop if they get tired of scratching in the leaves or whatever it is that they happen to be doing.

    It is said that the Red Junglefowl and Gray Junglefowl and Green Junglefowl are most closely related to the domestic chicken. They are supposedly from Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. My chickens have always enjoyed being under the bushes and trees, which gives me the impression that they truly are a fowl of the jungle as opposed to enjoying life on the savannah or tundra. However, the wild pheasant seems to flourish in very cold climates of the northern US States (wooded and prairie). I'm not sure what to make of that.
     
  6. Tessaturtle

    Tessaturtle Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 24, 2012
    New Hampshire
    We let ours out and figure they can decide for themselves. Our girls are certainly not fans of the snow. They are still under a year old, so this is their first experience with it. The couple of days we have had with snow so far this year have not even been very bad, but even the little snow on the ground stopped many of them from even coming out of the coop in the morning. The second day with some snow, they came out, but definitely are not thrilled with it - one buff cochin even got on top of a tree stump and just stayed there for hours!
     
  7. chattykathy306

    chattykathy306 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2012
    Oh yes. I see you do indeed come from a hot place. A place I would love to visit, although I don't tolerate heat well. I haven't seen the pictures of snowbirds on here, but I haven't been on or had chickens very long. I learn so much from others on here. It's great, isn't it?
     
  8. chattykathy306

    chattykathy306 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2012
    Thanks for a very interesting reply to my post. Our hens also prefer the woods/bushes around the perimeter of our yard. We had always thought it was a protective instinct, since they all ran for the coop one day when there was a hawk out and about. We have large hawks, owls and eagles, but so far all the girls have avoided contact with them. Also, we have many wild pheasants and turkeys here.
     
  9. chattykathy306

    chattykathy306 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2012
    I may just open the door to their run and let them make the choice. They were just hatched July 16, so may not be brave enough to launch out into the snow, like yours. So funny about the one on the stump.
     
  10. satay

    satay oz-e-chick

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    Please take some pictures if they do venture out. This ozzie chick would love to see hens in the snow instead of the dry drought ground for a change. :)
     

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