in the winter should my chickens still free range?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ldutch123, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. ldutch123

    ldutch123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When it has snowed or is very cold should I still open. Up the run for my chickens to run the land? Or should I protect their safe house and run and not let them out.

    I have 12 chickens in an 800 sq foot coop with an attached roofed 800 sq ft yard. Predator proof area. But I like to let them run free also. Any suggestions?
     
  2. bustermommy

    bustermommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicken footprints in the snow are very cute. I don't have an enclosed run. I open the coop door and they can stay or go as they like. If the snow's deep er than chickens legs are tall, they tend to stay in the coop. When it's only an inch or so, they go out. They don't seem to care about cold.
     
  3. ldutch123

    ldutch123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the response . I read that they may get frostbite on their feet so I was worried. I just feel awful keeping them in cause they wanna run. I just love my silly chickens. Who knew I would become chicken obsessed. People make fun of me all the time.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. bustermommy

    bustermommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, they can make fun, but they're eating nasty, tasteless eggs from unhappy hens while you're eating yummy, meaty tasting eggs from happy hens. Yeah, my friends kind of roll their eyes too, but they sure do like the eggs. And chick tv is the greatest!
     
  5. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last winter when it was waaaay below freezing for a long stretch of time I read in the forums about giving them a place to get their little feets up off the ground. I got a 2x4 and attached some stakes to it and drove them into the ground (it wasn't frozen yet!). They definitely used it. However, there were two or three days when it was really windy and cold and they didn't want to come out of the coop anyway.

    My only warning about letting them free range during the winter also comes from last year's experience with all of the snow we got. It was an intense winter, and of course my first one with chickens. Anyway, they refuse to step on freshly fallen snow; if it's packed down they don't mind as much. So one day there was no snow on the ground and they were hanging out in the lee of the garage, and all of a sudden it just started dumping snow. I didn't realize it for half an hour or so, which was long enough to accumulate a few inches. I went into the back yard and the chickens were basically stuck up against the garage because they refused to walk over the snow. I was able to carry my two docile girls, but had to chase my flighty one, and she actually "flew" over the snow to the path I had shoveled. I put flew in quotations because it was pretty much the least graceful flight I've ever seen. After that experience I try to lock them in their run when a snowstorm is in the forecast. I honestly am not sure if they would figure out how to get to their coop, and I certainly don't want to find out that they can't!

    Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens in their first snow can be quite dumb- and *chicken*. Be prepared to rescue and shovel them a path until they get used to it.
     
  7. Snack Giver

    Snack Giver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've built a seprate "hangout hut" that is covered on 3 sides, about 4x4' big, and has 2 big bags of aspen shavings for comfort. My 6 birds are all huddled together in it right now, enjoying the wood shavings and wind resistance. Its basically a shelter for them to go to.
     
  8. liz_s

    liz_s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have a pic of it Snack Giver? I'd love to see it! I'm thinking about doing something similar...
     
  9. PhilErvin

    PhilErvin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls have an adequete run to spend the day in but I prefer to release them every morning so they can wonder about. There may not be much for them to eat but they are constantly scratching and pecking at the ground so I figure it's good for them to be out.
     
  10. ldutch123

    ldutch123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the responses! I think I will wind/ snow proof their outside yard. It's basically a really big dog kennel with a roof. This is directly attached to their coop. But I will be careful when snow is in the forecast and maybe I will have them hang out in their yard. I don't want them gettin stuck somewhere and then I would have to search the five acres for them lol.
     

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