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Winter boredom prevention - bother with it in extreme temps?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WYchicks, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. WYchicks

    WYchicks In the Brooder

    Nov 20, 2010
    When you have extreme cold weather (let's say 15 degrees or much much colder) & your chickens won't leave their coop, do you worry about providing treats to prevent boredom? As many others, we had a bad winter snap (wind chills taking it down to -20) & our girls (four hens approx 7 mos old) won't leave their coop (from what we can see - we work full-time, so obviously don't watch them all hours of the day). Their food/water/grit/treats are underneath the raised coop (heated dog dish with water so it is thawed) - coop is big enough for roosting/nesting only (their run is the area underneath the coop & extends beyond the coop). They were unhappy when the weather was 20-30 degrees, but they did go down in the run to eat & drink. With our recent cold snap, they stopped going down & basically stay roosting together to keep warm. *Note* Coop is unheated, well-vented, & mostly draft-free (although not 100%) - we did drape an old, unused down comforter over a few drafty areas to provide some wind protection/insulation without completely shutting those areas from air movement. This morning I caved & put a "soup" mixture of warm water/feed in their coop b/c I know they need food & water to keep their bodies fueled - they went crazy & began chowing down!

    I've read many people provide treats (hanging cabbage, suet, etc) to keep boredom down, but we don't have room & don't want food in their coop. Should I bother with boredom busters in these terrible cold snaps (which hopefully won't be often)? Or should I just occasionally provide food/water in the coop when weather is so bad they won't leave the coop & only provide treats in the run that they can get to when the weather warms up? We're in Wyoming & have typical Rocky Mtn winter weather - snow, cold temps, but the sun is usually out which helps provide radiant heat.

    Also, anyone notice a decrease in food consumption in cold weather? Our feeder sits on the ground & when the weather dropped to 20-30 degrees, their food consumption dropped. Thought it might have to do with the food sitting on the cold ground. Luckily they continue eating scratch grains & treats we brought them.

  2. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Mine are funny, I don't seem to have trouble with boredom in the coop when they have the CHOICE to leave. They all sit around looking morosely out the door at the rotten weather. But if I shut that door, all bets are off.

    Do keep an eye on them and make sure they're getting enough to eat and drink in nasty weather, though. Sometimes they really don't know what's best for themselves.

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