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Winter: Locked up or free range

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by crooked stripe, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Songster

    Jan 14, 2008
    N.E Ohio- Suffield
    I have 12 chickens 6- 30 weeks and 6- 9 weeks that live in a 4x8 coop with 2 -8x8 runs attached. One covered and one open. All summer they have free ranged all day and returned to the coop at night. Now that winter is setting in should I lock them up all day or let them continue their behavior? Now that it is getting cold and snowing some I only see them outside a few times a day. They are not always in the coop just sitting under the covered run. Should the chickens just be left to do their thing or should I take measures to keep them warm and dry in the rain and snow?
  2. Just-Like-Hatching

    Just-Like-Hatching Songster

    Mar 23, 2008
    Dothan, AL
    I let them do their thing as you put it. Most chickens are smart enough to do what they need. Just make sure you close them up at night. Predators are usually worse in the winter, do to the shortage of new young prey in the winter months.
  3. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Songster

    May 19, 2008
    East Bethel MN
    I usually lock mine in the coop and run in winter months because of the predator situation. I had just lost one of my favorite hens last week to a predator and it was pretty devistating to me and to the rest of the flock. I do however let them out when its not tooo cold and wet outside, or give them the option but only if i am around to watch them like a hawk.
  4. I gave my flock access to their run every day last winter, by opening the pop hole but I can count on one hand how many times theycame out...[​IMG]

    They hate the snow, as soon as they saw the white stuff they stayed in the coop for good. But of course they were spoiled rotten with treats everyday, and "toys" like swinging hanging cabbages and the like. Half the time they were sleeping on their roosts...............I had some lazzzzzy chickens. But I love going out and sitting with them...even in the dead of winter. Best therapy there is.

  5. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Songster

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    I leave the coop door open during the day. Sometimes they'll go out into their run and wander around, sometimes they stay inside. I don't plan on locking them up at all unless the temp is below zero and we have a strong wind.
  6. Hobbley_Farm

    Hobbley_Farm Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    Pilot Mountain, NC
    We just do the same thing every day. If it's too cold for them they seem to stay inside on their own accord. I do live in NC so we dont' have the extreme winter that some of you up north have.
  7. DeeTee

    DeeTee In the Brooder

    Oct 1, 2008
    Desbarats, Ontario
    We got our first snow of the season on Saturday and I wondered how the pullets would react to their first snowfall. They were gathered at the pop door as usual, asking to go out so I opened it. The first two ran out on the the ramp and then stopped dead, looking around and squawking as if to say "what the heck?" Then they ran back in, complaining LOUDLY [​IMG].

    Half and hour later, though, theye were all out in the run the same as ever and I threw them some scratch. They were in and out all day.

    My plans agree with most of what I have read in this thread. If it's not storming, open the door and let them make their own decision. That way the coop gets aired out as well.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  8. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    After watching our lone chicken enjoy free ranging all last winter, my plans are to free range our flock of 8 just the same as the summer, no changes...

    We had a dusting of snow today and the chickens seemed to enjoy it. Time to break out the heater for the waterer, I guess.

    With my Game Cam, varmint predators have a low life expectancy. One visit puts them on the hit list. [​IMG]
  9. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Songster

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    We got our first real snow storm in October. 12+ inches. The chooks saw it and were like [​IMG]

    I left the pop door open for them, they inched in and out all day, but didn't stray more than 2 ft from the door. If it's a nice winter day out, I'll let them free range for an hour or so while we're outside. Other than that, they'll be in their run.

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