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#78603 - 01/27/07 05:49 PM free range chickens and snow?
Tiva Offline

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Wisconsin
With global warming, we don't get much snow anymore in Wisconsin, but when we do, our hens hate it. The buff orpingtons, araucanas, and leghorns all agree: snow is nasty. They're fine with rain, wind, cold, sun--but snow freaks them out. The hen house isn't really big enough for them all to stay inside all day (they normally range all over the farm), so when it snows, I end up shoveling a little yard for them and throwing down hay. My husband thinks this is hilarious. Am I the only one around here who shovels snow so the hens can get outside and enjoy the sun? I toss a little scratch into the hay so all the hens rush outside.

#78604 - 01/27/07 06:04 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Jo Jo Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 04/14/04
Posts: 309
Loc: Massachusetts
LOL! Mine hate it too - I can just hear their tiny little brains -- "What happened to the ground? Can we go there? We can't go out there! What are we going to do? Oh, my!" and they walk away from the door, and then back again, and the same cluck, cluck, cluck.
I dont shovel for my girls, but I do throw hay in the yard for them to get started. After a few "survive", the rest try to fly across the snow to pile onto the "hay island" and in doing so, push the early ones off! It is entertaining!
When it is deep, they really hate it, and just stand there, with a panicked, weepy look on their face. "What do I do now? The funny white ground sucked me up! I can't walk, so I guess I can't fly or hop, either. Oh, my, oh, my!"
Eventually they figure it out.

#78605 - 01/27/07 11:49 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Hello Tiva,

i think i it depends on your breed and how they are "accustomed" to snow. Our birds pretty fast noticed once we have snow we have it LONG;-) So the first day they are really "pissed off" but from the second day on they kinda "accepted" their new environment and do just fine.

HereŽare some pics to and a clip to see what i mean. Enjoy!



pics: Frida, Bonny, Dana, Mirella
clip: Dana and Red Friend

Best greetings,


#78606 - 01/28/07 06:20 AM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Yep, I shovel for them when needed. It is funny how they freak out and think they can't walk on that scary white stuff. We see a similar effect sometimes when we clean out the coop and the litter is now light and bright, versus the dark stuff they were used to. There have been times we've had to herd them into the barn on the first evening after cleaning it out. Goofy birds! LOL!

#78607 - 01/28/07 02:11 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Sally Joe Offline

Registered: 12/20/06
Posts: 31
Loc: New York
I thought maybe I was crazy shoveling a space for the chickens but I am glad to hear I'm not the only one ! I also put down some straw and hay in a few areas so it's not quite so cold on their feet. They usually stay in the shoveled part and don't venture into the deeper snow.

#78608 - 01/29/07 06:52 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Wyattdogster Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 493
Loc: Virginia
We had a few inches last week that froze over and was ice encrusted white stuff. I tossed some scratch out onto it and 40 birds were crowded in the gateway wondering how to get to the scratch. 3 brave hens 'flew' about 8 feet and then hopped to the scratch. The others pushed and shoved and some flew out too. Several would slip and slide on became sort of an ice-dancing spectacular and I was howling laugh One rooster ventured out and began trying to chase the hens back in, but ended up slipping and totally embarrassed himself! The other 3 just stared at the chaos. The rest of the hens said to heck with this and went under the shelter. My husband just finished (yesterday) building a shed roof off the side of the coop, it is the length of the barn (40ft) and extends out 8 feet. So now, when they exit their chicken door they are in a covered area so at least they can get some fresh air. This will give them a nice shaded area to retreat to in the summertime and a dry area during the rains. I tried to get my hubby to put a skylight in over the coop door but he seemed to think this was an unreasonable request!! wink

#78609 - 02/15/07 01:53 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Tiva Offline

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Wisconsin
Ice-dancing hens! What a hoot.

We have buff orpingtons and araucarias, and they don't mind the cold at all. But if I don't scrape off every tiny bit of snow off their walkway to the yard and hay, they get very upset at me. The first day it snowed this winter, they somehow ended up roosting on the tractor. They couldn't figure out how to get back over the snow to their coop, and finally I had to go rescue them, hen by hen. Now, after a month of snow cover, they're getting pretty bored with their hay covered chicken yard. But not bored enough to walk out over the snow to the rest of the farm.

#78610 - 02/16/07 02:32 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Ridekool Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 01/24/05
Posts: 313
Loc: Canada
My girls don't mind the snow, they're MGB x OEGB x Silkies, it's the nasty cold weather that goes with it they hate :rolleyes: I don't have to shovel a path since the horses keep most everything packed. They (hens) do venture outside when we get nicer sunny days. All and all they don't seemed bothered by winter.

#78611 - 02/16/07 08:41 PM Re: free range chickens and snow?
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1283
Loc: Canada
My chickens also lose their minds over snow. I don't get it. I have shovelled some small areas, but draw the line at shovelling the whole yard.

This past fall I got hubby to hammer together a rickety system of some scabby 2x4's and plywood overhead to keep an area of the ground dry over the winter. Not so much for the chickens, but for me. That wet, greasy, chicken poopy ground gets treacherous to navigate doing the chores!

I have to laugh as I watch my neighbours climb onto their roofs, risking life and limb, to shovel off our heavier than normal snow. Good grief, our rafter and truss systems are engineered for some prety serious snow loads and people are up their shovelling. Here I've got some rotten 2x4s and a few sheets of plywood with a whole winters worth of snow...not a bow or flex or sag in sight. What are people thinking? And more to the point, what are my chickens thinking? Seems snow makes everyone a little silly. :p


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