SNOW, boredom, no dust baths, grit? advice?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Trishkabob, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 30, 2010
    Schuylerville, NY
    It is so snowy here and I think we didn't anticipate well enough in building our coop. We have 4 girls in a small henhouse and they don't want to come out, though one sgands in the dokrway like she would if she saw bare ground. i have been putting a bit of dirt I can scrape up , in their treats, but should I add grit to their food? And do they "need" dustbaths or just miss them? We should have covered their yard with something more solid than wire...I go out and give them lettuce and shelled sunflower seeds during the day (and warm water) but I am afraid they are bored to death.
    Their combs look ok but one has some white and they all have TINY black specks on their combs....(just one or two and they aren't bugs) but I read in another BYC post that this may be from pecking. They seem to get along well but we have a long winter yet to come and even shoveling their yard doesn't clear the ground to dirt. There is some clear ground under their henhouse...
    I feel like I am anthropomorphizing but I also feel sort of sick that they don't have a good place outside.
    (I like the hanging cabbage head idea but it would take up a chunk of interior real estate). thoughts? thanks.
  2. Mak

    Mak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Londonderry, NH
    Well, the cabbage might take up room but not for long! Mine take one apart pretty quickly. I do give mine some grit these days tho they don't always eat it. I figure they will if they need it. I also go out and shovel a small section of the run, as close to the ground as I can get it. I spread a bit of hay on top of whatever snow is left and then they take care of scratching down to dirt once they decide it's ok to come out.
    One thing I want to rig up over the summer is some sort of dust bath arrangement that will be good in winter, too. Our run is not covered other than with netting because of snow load.
  3. Baymen Moe

    Baymen Moe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 17, 2009
    Pembroke, Ma.
    If you can, shovel down to some bare dirt. That may entice them to come out. Pick up a "Flock Block" for them to peck at. It has treats and grit and can help with boredom issues. My flock has gotten used to the snow and have come out in the recent storms.
  4. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Mine dust bathe in the coop, throwing loose stuff all over, into the hanging feeder and waterers. I also toss girt onto the floor around the feeders so they can get some if the need it. On sunny days they like to use the sheltered SE side of the coop to sunbathe--it is kind of protected from the wind and the coop roof overhangs enough so the ground is mostly bare.
  5. autumn11

    autumn11 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 17, 2011
    It might be hard to find this time of year, but buying a kids sand box or wading pool with a lid to protect sand or dirt from snow would give them a place to bathe. Then just make them a path to the bath house.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
  6. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 30, 2010
    Schuylerville, NY
    thank you, all! I have been bummed out by all the snow but your suggestions are all helpful and I will get on it (them). Think will sand do for a dust bath? I won't be able to dig up enough dirt from their non winter bath areas....maybe some organic potting soil?
    I have read really mixed things about DE- some swear by it, others are wary about the girls breathing it (since we aren't supposed to).
    Somewhere I have a box of parakeet grit I will toss in their litter.
    it's snowing now....again...
  7. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    I keep a catbox half filled with sand in the tractor for the girls to pick through and bath in if they want. I did see them bathing in the litter. I also hang cabbage for them in their run. Throwing in a handful or two of boss into the tractor gets them digging around for the goodies which also turns over the litter for me. The sand in the box is their grit and they like to pick through it every day. Like you, I have been shoveling out the run so they will come out. Seems like every week now with all the storms we are getting! I have also been spreading treats out in their run so they have to move around to get the goods. I have 8 girls in a 4x8 tractor and so far everything has been well. I always open the pop door and give them the choice of going out (unless it is storming). The divas wont step foot in fresh snow but if I shovel, they will come out and demand goodies! It sounds like your girls are doing okay and what you are doing is good. My run is not covered but they will use it if it is shoveled with only a little snow left on the ground.
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    My hens dust bathe in the deep litter in the coop and in the dirt under the coop. The paved portion of their pen is covered but that just means some of the runoff ends up on the dirt portion so it is frozen rock solid now.
    I spread straw over the snowy area and throw BOSS and millet into it and it keeps them busy a while looking for it.
    When the snow is bad enough they won't come out I scatter a handful of BOSS or mealworms in the litter and they spend some time looking for them. The mealworms aren't too pricey if you buy by the thousands.
    Heads of greens they love but don't last long.
    My younger birds haven't been able to get out much so I started putting grit in their coop in a separate dish and I've been amazed at how quickly they clean it up. I must have started that just in time.
  9. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    You can get playsand from places like lowes/home depot. Too late for this round of snow, but things you can do for the future: I put a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood across two saw horses just outside the coop (in the run) to protect the ground from snow, so they'd have a small area of brown/green when it snows (without me shoveling). Also, when a snow is predicted, I go out and lay tarps down on the ground (once more, inside the run), so that when the snow is done for the day I can just go out and removed the tarp - after you've cleared a bit of the snow off. If your run is small, even a plywood piece or large section of cardboard would work. I spent a LOT more time shoveling last winter than I've done this year. Even if you don't shovel down to the ground, if the snow is packed and you scatter some straw about w/treats tossed down, they will come out for a bit. Good luck!
  10. Frannabelle

    Frannabelle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2009
    I'm lucky, I have a deck about 3.5 feet up and cut doorways in the lattice work for my flock. I shoveled paths from their coop run so they can go directly under the deck. It's all sand and dirt under there and they just love it. They dust bathe and even when it's brutal out, they spend the entire day pecking away

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