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Free-ranging in the winter - what is out there to eat?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by FingerLakesChick, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    I live in upstate NY and the ground is covered with snow 50% of the time and it's frozen 100% of the time. I let the flock out to free-range when it's not too nasty. But I was wondering - what can they find to eat in this barren winter wonderland? I know the grass is frozen and the bugs are few (if any). Haven't seen a worm in months. Are they finding anything worth while?
  2. annmarie

    annmarie Songster

    Nov 20, 2007
    I don't think they're getting much of anything this time of year here in Vermont either, but I let them out more for the mental health/stimulation/entertainment of it. Often I'll toss some scratch or sunflower seeds in a bare ground area if I can find one, so they can feel like they're finding something. My chickens do love to eat snow and ice though, so I guess they're getting good hydration! I'd love to think they're getting some kind of nutrition, but I have a hard time imagining they do, especially when the ground covered in snow. But then chickens do survive in the wild, I'm just not sure about the snowy wild.
  3. RockyToggRanch

    RockyToggRanch Songster

    May 22, 2008
    Upstate NY
    Mine find stuff in the wood pile, in the horse stalls, in the driveway and the hot manure pile.. There's still a couple of feet of snow on the ground, but they've learned where to go to heep busy.
  4. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    Thanks for the input. I figured as much and will keep throwing treats to them when they're out in the snow for extended periods of time.
  5. vermontgal

    vermontgal Songster

    There are also springtails! (snow fleas) There are insects even in the snow.
  6. FingerLakesChick

    FingerLakesChick Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Western New York
    I've never heard of "springtails". But there was a mosquito in my car this morning and it's 20F! What's up with that?
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    My chickens are really tearing up the leaf cover on the corners of the fencing and buildings, scratching around the bases of the trees and under the long grass in the orchard. I keep looking for what they are getting to eat and I see nothing! If they are pecking and scratching, I would guess they have found something to eat... [​IMG]
  8. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Songster

    I would wonder too, if the ground is frozen. We let our girls out more as a mental health issue. Personally, I believe they just like getting their feet caked with mud! [​IMG]
  9. Barn Maid Ann

    Barn Maid Ann Songster

    Oct 28, 2008
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Well, before today (7 inches of snow), mine would go into the woods and scratch through the humus-y leaf compost. Not sure what they are eating out of that, but I am sure they are digging up some bugs and larvae, and perhaps some plant material.
    Even when the snow settles down, they can still go and scratch under the humus.
    Mostly they just hang out back, near or on the porch waiting for handouts. [​IMG]
  10. momofdrew

    momofdrew Songster

    I was wondering what they were finding...They don't eat their feed so they must be finding something that is filling there crop...after tonight tho I dont think they will find much cause I don't plan on shoveling they whole yard for them... [​IMG] we are in the middle of a blizzard at the moment and expect 8 or more inches before morning...lots of wind so we will have dirfts too when all said and done... [​IMG] [​IMG] now we'll see haw they like that tomorrow...

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