Snow in the run?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by dtimms, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. dtimms

    dtimms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2009
    Our first winter, so I'm a nervous Mom...

    We have a small a-frame coop (shelter on top, run on the bottom). We got a pretty good storm this weekend, and of course the snow piled up in the run about 8" deep. When I opened the hatch, one of my girls came out and braved the snow up to the top of her legs to get a snack. She didn't look too upset, but it freaked me out so I shoveled out the run (OK, I made my husband do it) so that the rest of the snow was packed down and threw some hay in. They've been fine ever since, picking through the hay and then taking breaks to go back upstairs.

    Here's the question: Is it bad for the chickens to be wading around in the snow? Should I try to prevent snow from going into the run by wrapping it somehow? If so, any suggestions for how to wrap?

    I'm also currently feeding/watering them in the run because there's no light in the upstairs for them to eat by. Does that matter? Should I have some food up there also even though it's dark? There is some water, but they have never used it.

    So far I haven't used any heat in the roost area for them to sleep, but they look OK to me. How would I know if they are stressed out? No one is laying right now, but only one had even started to lay before the days got short and I was not going to go the artificial light route.

  2. RocketDad

    RocketDad Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2008
    Near US 287
    My hens hate snow. They refused to go into their run. I finally let them out in it for a while when it was super-cold, and they hated it. After a week of them living in the coop all day, the litter in the coop was pretty funky, so I shoveled it into the run when I cleaned the coop. The shavings packed down pretty well onto the snow and gave them a much nicer surface to hang out and scratch, so they're less likely to spend all day in the coop.
  3. toletiquesbysam

    toletiquesbysam Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2008
    Open the door, if they want to go out they will, the snow won't hurt them! Some of mine will brave the snow, while others won't but it's their choice as long as it's not blizzard conditions or windchill terrible, they are allowed access to the outside!
    My geese love the snow, they just like to be out of the coop and they usually have 1 or 2 chickens that venture with them! I haven't had to scoop the run nor do I plan on doing that.......ever!! [​IMG]
  4. dtimms

    dtimms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2009
    Quote:Really? So even if they're wading in it, it's not harmful? I keep reading on here about frostbite, etc.... it's freaking me out that I'm some kind of bad chicken keeper!
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Could you wrap a tarp around or over part of the run area to at least keep the snow minimal??? My run is too large to do that over the whole thing, but I've tarped it over a section that's braced really well. Mine hate snow so far, but they will go out in the area that's covered for a little while. With an A frame that should be really easy to do! And they won't normall eat in the dark, so I wouldn't worry about keeping food inside, as long as it's somewhat sheltered for them to get to. I think you would know if they're stressed by them not being very active, staying huddled and puffed up a lot...
  6. jwchicklady

    jwchicklady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2009
    Howell, MI
    i put some straw on top of the snow and they like to walk on that. I also have a 3 sided horse shelter that the girls like to hang out in when I let them free range and it so funny to watch them run from their coop to the shelter (about 30 feet away from the coop) in the snow--a couple of them try to fly all the way there--they just are freaked out about the snow.
  7. cobrien

    cobrien Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    for ease of maintenance and to be sure they can get to their food every day, I would put a tarp or drop cloth or any readily available solid material around the bottom part to keep most of the snow out but allow ventilation. Otherwise with food and snow/water available I wouldn't worry they will be fine.
  8. dtimms

    dtimms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2009
    Thanks everybody. I feel a little better. This morning it was 17 degrees, and I went out to give the girls some corn. They were picking through the hay and clucking like crazy, so they don't seem very stressed out by the cold!

    I do keep their food outside, and I am wondering if it's a problem if it gets frozen? I've been throwing them corn every morning to help keep warm, but they do seem to be eating less feed. I don't know if it's just because they are pigging out on treats or if they don't like it cold food!
  9. bibliophile birds

    bibliophile birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    my chickies loved the snow, the one day it actually snowed. we've had a lot of slushy rain though, so i threw a lot of hay down in the run, mostly to keep them up out of the mud.

    frostbite is more of a worry if you have a coop that isn't well ventilated at night. since chickens don't urinate, they put off a lot of water in their breathing and pooping (and they poop the most at night). if that water is trapped inside with them on really cold nights, they can get frostbit combs and wattles. i've not seen it, but you can google for images. improving ventilation should help a lot, and you can coat their combs and wattles with vaseline to help keep them safe. but really, you shouldn't have to worry about it.
  10. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    Mine just sprint right out into it.

    Watch yourself, though, if you have to walk in the run. They beat the snow right down into ice, and it can be very slick. What I've been doing is throwing the soiled bedding on top of the snow to give me some grip. Works pretty well.

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