Should I free range in the winter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mcnicolclan, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. mcnicolclan

    mcnicolclan Out Of The Brooder

    15
    0
    22
    Jul 6, 2010
    Wisconsin
    I live in Wisconsin and have a small flock of light brahmas. I've been letting them free range for at least a couple of hours each day and all day on the weekends. What should I do once we have snow on the ground? Is it ok to let them out if we only have a few inches? Do I need to do anything else to prepare them for the snow?
     
  2. ChurkLover

    ChurkLover Out Of The Brooder

    97
    0
    39
    Jul 9, 2010
    St. Louis
    I am wondering the same for my chickens...I hope someone with an answer replies to you soon!
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,484
    3,875
    506
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I know I am further south than you, but I open the pop door every day, rain or shine, regardless of the heat or cold. If they want to go out they will. Mine do not like wind or snow, but what we get for cold does not bother them. Here is a picture taken when it was 8* F outside. That is ice on the ground.

    [​IMG]

    Chickens don't like change or things they are not used to. Some people report that their chickens get out and wade through the snow, but mine don't see enough snow to ever get used to it.
     
  4. Chicky Tocks

    Chicky Tocks [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2666.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG] Ru

    Oct 20, 2008
    Benton, Arkansas
    Funny that you asked...my son asked me this same question last night. My answer was yes, I will open their door for them to come out. Whether they come out or not is up to them. I'm sure that they will unless there is more than an inch or two of snow on the ground which doesn't happen too often around here.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    458
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I'm more or less in ridgerunner's position, though a little warmer. I do know that plenty of people let them out in winter. If the weather is not to their taste, though, they may stay inside. Or only go out for short periods or something. I would let them choose, though, even in Wisconsin.
     
  6. MomMommyMamma

    MomMommyMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

    569
    0
    131
    Jun 13, 2010
    West Virginia
    We're all looking forward to seeing if they choose to come out into the snow or not. We don't get a whole lot of snow here, but some.
    I'm always amazed at how they will stand out in the rain.
     
  7. PhilErvin

    PhilErvin Chillin' With My Peeps

    616
    5
    136
    Sep 11, 2009
    Yucaipa, CA
    I plan to let mine out to free range. Here in So.Cal we have new tender sprouts popping up all year so there always seems to be something to scratch up. [​IMG]
     
  8. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    8,697
    230
    316
    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Last year was my first winter with chickens. I'm in Ohio, so we get lots of snow and frigid temps, along with wind. I covered my run with tarps from top to bottom, and I put a light out in the run. It's almost dark when I get home from work at 5pm, so they didn't get to free range much.

    On the weekends, when I normally let them free range all day, they didn't want to come out if there was snow on the ground. They were terrified of it! So I didn't force the issue. But having the run enclosed like I did, really made the coop seem twice as big, because I put straw in the run, and I had some things for them to climb on.......

    This year, I have a real roof on the run, not tarps, which sag and leak and I had to go out with the broom and sweep the snow off of the roof because Ohio really got hammered with snow last year.

    I have a better, bigger coop, and the run will be covered with tarps on the sides to block the wind, so I'm hoping the chickens will be happy. I've got things out there to keep them from getting bored.......

    I wish it could be fall all year long.......
     
  9. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,168
    31
    201
    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Quote:If they'll go out and you don't mind opening and closing them up, there should be no problem. In the past my chickens haven't been exactly crazy for going out in deep snow--usually I'll open the pop door and we get a chicken-jam once the first hit the snow covered ramp. As far as preparing them, unless they're into 90-day forecasts or the Farmers' Almanac, there isn't much you have to do--they'll figure it out.
     
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    124
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Brahmas were made for winter. I open the door every day, no matter the weather, and let them decide.

    Two winters ago I walked out to check on my brahmas after an ice storm and found my light brahma rooster walking around with icicles hanging off his tail feathers.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by