Will my girls get cabin fever?


May 16, 2010
Washington State
We're about to get hit with another 7-10 inches of snow (two days after our previous 10") and although I know they won't freeze, I'm really concerned about my girls getting bored and pecking each other.

When winter started we were slammed with below freezing temperatures, then tons of snow. At first they wouldn't come out of their coop or leave their run. They finally started to come out, and the snow didn't really stick around for long, so they were able to explore the yard a bit.

Well after this latest round they either won't come out of their coop or just hang out in their run again. Their coop/run wasn't built for them to be in it at all times (it's more of a tractor), and it isn't insulated at all. It has enough room, but they certainly can't get any exercise. It's been my first winter with chickens, and of course, it's been the worst one we've had in a while.

Would it be ridiculous to put them in the garage or my basement until this storm passes? It sounds like we're going to get blowing snow. I feel silly being so worried, but I can't help myself. Putting a heat lamp in the coop doesn't sound like a good idea. Like I said, this isn't the worst we've had this season; I think I'm just anthropomorphizing too much. They've been through days of zero or lower temps at a time, and certainly a lot of snow- I just feel so bad for them! Am I projecting my need for spring on to them?
I'm not sure your chickens need to be in the garage or basement, but it sounds like YOU might need them to be....

Do what feels right!
What size is your coop and how many chickens do you have in it? I've got 20 chickens in an 8x12 and they are doing ok and we're getting the same storm as you.
About 3 weeks ago here in Oklahoma we received 34+ inches of blowing snow and -20 degree temps with winds gusting over 60 mph in a week and a halves time. My egg layer coop is Not insulated at ALL! I bought 2 heated 3 gallon waterers and I put a heat lamp in a corner and all of my 35 birds did fine except for 1 Roo who was the lowest ranked and got very very sick and died a few days ago most likely from internal causes from fighting with the 2 head Roosters. My chickens did fine with the weather and I'm glad that its over. My egg production dropped drastically because the 100 degree change in temperature caused about 22 out of my 26 Red Stars to molt... I would keep them in your coop. As long as you have a non drafty but ventilated coop with ample room for each bird. How could of temps are you expecting?

Ddawn- I think you're right! The coop is 4'x4', and the run is 7'x4' (part of it goes under the coop). When it's cold they just hang out in the nest boxes, or literally sit at the open door of the run. The temps are supposed to be in the thirties, so it's definitely not going to be as cold as it was.

I wish I knew what went on in their little brains! I guess, however, that I should just be happy that they have LITTLE brains, because I suppose they probably aren't thinking much. I just don't want them to get bored because they have nothing to hold their attention- they can't/ won't forage in the snow. I guess maybe I need to get creative with their treats. They just don't have much room to run around.

Does anybody have any suggestions for 'toys'?

You guys are great by the way!
My DD made some tin plate toys.She strung together some small (disposable)tin plates and hung them up.The chickens love shiny stuff to peck
I also have a head of cabbage for them to peck at.I sometimes get a flock block which they love.But....they still get BORED
So, I will keep trying different things but this winter has been especially brutal here and I think everyone has cabin fever!
And here I am concerned about our California winters with 32 degree nights and snow up to 2'. Guess chickens are heartier than I'd guessed. Ha ha

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