winter behavior

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by orchard17, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. orchard17

    orchard17 Out Of The Brooder

    May 25, 2009
    Barrington, NH
    We've had our share of snow here in NH and it's my first winter with chickens. Is it normal that they refuse to come out of the coop AT ALL with snow on the ground? Normally they free range all over the yard and I'm going through a lot of feed here. I'm also concerned because I designed the coop size with the idea that they would be sleeping in it and living outside of it. It's kinda cramped. (4x8 for 11 chickens) How can I get them out?
  2. joletabey

    joletabey SDWD!!!!

    Apr 9, 2009
    western NC
    Give them some treats outside - put their feeder outside - if they like you, be outside with them for a bit?
  3. Freeholder

    Freeholder Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2008
    Klamath County, OR
    They don't like cold feet (any more than you would if you were walking around barefoot in the snow!). If you put their feed and water outside, that will encourage them to go out. Spreading some hay or something on top of the snow might help a little bit but it would have to be replaced after every snow -- I've lived in New Hampshire so I know it snows often in the winter there; you would go through quite a bit of hay that way!

    They will eat more food in the winter than in the summer. Partly it's because there isn't much if anything for them to forage for outdoors, and partly it's because they need extra fuel to keep warm during the cold weather.

  4. Keara

    Keara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2009
    Clear a bit of the snow by their door and I bet they will come out. Mine always do. Once they are out the door they will tend to move around on top of the snow; assuming it can hold their weight. Sometimes I will even shovel paths for the chickens, so they can get to the horse barn.

    PS I'm in Vermont.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  5. cockadoodle

    cockadoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2009
    When it snows more than a couple inches here, which is a lot of the time, mine won't come out. If it's below 20 degrees, they won't come out either. If I de-ice and scrape all the snow off their ramp to the run and pour a layer of scratch on it, they can be convinced that the grass is greener outside (even though they ate all of it last summer), I haven't even opened the pop door the last few days, they'd rather stay warmer inside (just like me [​IMG] ) I need to invent the chicken Wii and put a flat screen in there so they don't get cabin feaver. If you really want them out, bribe them with snacks, otherwise I figure let them do what they want. Egg production dropped big time the first few weeks of winter cold but seems to be rebounding now. Leaving them to their own agenda is probably best.
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ours come out no matter what the temp, though we restrict them during brutal cold. We spread bedding on the ice, if any, and the run is roofed.
    I think it's the roofing that makes winter easy for us.
    Thw water is indoors in an electric dog bowl so the hens are motivated to make frequent trips in and out, which keeps them moving. We also give wild bird suet for extra calories and to enhance the feathercoat and skin. [​IMG]
  7. accio! chickens

    accio! chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 28, 2009
    Ours will come out but first they'll all line up on the foundation trying to figure out who will go first. Last year our hens were pampered, I put down hay in their run for them to step on and pick through. It worked really well!
  8. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Ours are ALWAYS out no matter the temp. It was 9 degrees this am and they were out happy as clams in the run. Silly birds!!

    This is the first winter for our little ones, tho the two oldest are used to it. They go out no matter what unless the snow is deep. Then they wont come out. But if thers some snow ont eh ground, or ice, or whatever they are out there. I have had to make them go inside when it is pouring down rain! They just like to be outisde lol

    They are spending a lot more time inside this year cos the ground is so cold, and the food and treats are inside atm. They are currently snacking on a suet cage full of spinach and broc.
  9. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    My chickens haven't been out since Sunday when it started snowing. We ended up with a foot of snow. Then it turned to ice Monday night. There is still very little bare spots in their run. (except under the coop, which is a few feet off the ground)

    So today, I decided it was warm enough to force them out. I threw scratch on the ground under the coop and they all found the courage to come out.
  10. jafo

    jafo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2009
    I had to shovel a small area by thier pop door. Today they emerged after two days (the storm we had) and only went where I shoveled, ie; the path to the coop, and to our deck, so they could get under it. If there's fresh snow, and it's more'n an inch deep, they won't come out,,,,,,,,at all.

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