Winter behavior and free ranging

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TallJ, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2013
    So, this is my first flock of chickens. I have 13 girls, 18 weeks old, of various breeds. (We also have 5 'guard guineas'.) A few weeks ago I started free ranging them on several acres. In the morning it is pretty comical how much they all rush to get out of the coop and pen area. It is a great race with lots of squawking to get outside!
    We had our first frost last night, and the days are noticeably cooler. The girls are still strolling around hunting and pecking, but also fluffing up and hanging out under the evergreens all together quite a lot. (They didn't doo too much hunting an pecking and wandering today since I had 5 kids here that delighted in feeding them fruit, veggies, breadcrusts, oats, and scratch! They didn't have to work at all to fill up!)
    We have an Amish coop, and I have the back upper vent open, and the front windows cracked. As of now if the winter isn't too harsh I plan on leaving those open to keep up their cold hardyness. All breeds said they did well in the cold when I ordered them.
    I was just wondering what behavior will be normal once it gets pretty cold? Will they still want to get out of the coop? Will they still want to wander over a couple acres? Will they only want to stay in the coop? Will they maybe want to come out if it is just cold, but not in the snow? I just want to know what is normal since this is my 1st time keeping hens. Thanks!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Important variables.

    What does free-range area look like?

    How cold does it get?

    How much snow?
     
  3. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2013
    Free range is mix of grass (large open area), woods, bushes, flowerbeds. They have a fenced area that is just grass, but we let them out of it during the day.
    Coldest month according to weather.com is January and the 'Average' winter high is 37 and low is 22 then. (We are along the Mason Dixon in Central PA.)
    Some winters no snow, or just a little. Occasional heavy snow - if there is a blizzard. Other than that just a few storms here and there that melt after a few days.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Free-range area can be influenced strongly by placement of feeding stations. Feed them near cover and make them work eats in more than one location. I provide a mixed ration where different types items are at different locations. Keeping them on a couple acres should be easy so long as area does not look like a golf course.

    Predators will be concern.
     

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