Friday, December 13, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday: Getting Chickens Through Snowstorms

I mentioned on Monday how we had our first snow of the season last weekend, but thought I would expand upon what you can do to make it easier on your flock when you do get a good snowfall. All chickens are different and they each have a distinct personality, but for the most part they do not like snow.

In the Coop
We got our snow overnight on Thursday, and when I opened up the coop Friday morning the chickens were pretty shocked at what they saw and refused to leave the coop. Even some of the guineas who never like to be confined took up residence in the coop.


Our coop is fairly large, but when chickens are confined they can get stressed out and bored easily. As a result, they may peck at each other and cause injuries. It's best to keep an eye on them and make sure everyone is behaving. You can give them some distractions like a flock block or other treats to peck at, and provide tree stumps or additional perches for them to explore. Giving them some extra bedding like dried leaves or straw will also keep them busy while they scratch and kick through the piles.

Outside the Coop
It took my chickens a good three days before they would leave the coop. I managed to finally coax them out by shoveling a path so they didn't have to walk in the deeper snow and throwing some scratch and black oil sunflower seeds on the path to get their attention.


After a while they do get used to the snow and will venture out further and further, even walking through some of the deeper snow.



Dietary Needs
My chickens do eat more in the winter, so I make sure to give them plenty of feed each day. Water is also very important in the winter so depending on the temperatures, sometimes the water will have to be checked throughout the day to make sure it isn't frozen over. I use black rubber pans (like this one) because they don't crack like the plastic waterers do when they get frozen. It's easy to just turn the pan upside down and kick the bottom to remove the chunks of ice.

Scratch is meant to be a treat and not their primary source of food, but I do provide a bit of scratch in the morning to get them going and in the evening before they go in for the night. It helps to keep them warmer overnight because the act of digesting the scratch increases body temperature.


Here we are a week later and the snow is still on the ground and the chickens and guineas all seem to be used to it. They venture out like normal and aren't as grumpy as they were last weekend. I can't say the same for the humans, because I just wish the snow would melt already! We don't usually get much snow here in Southeast Missouri so I'm not as used to it as some of you in the more northern regions.

If it snows where you live, do you give your flock any special treatment?

~Tammy

Shared with Saturday's Critters, Maple Hill Hop  

44 comments:

  1. i feed scratch to the wild ducks. during our cold spell this week, we went thru a LOT of it.

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  2. They look so cute out in the snow. Our new dog seems to LOVE the snow & I am so excited about that.

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  3. No snow here, yet, but it's been super cold. I worry about Willow. I think she is really going to struggle this winter.

    I just read Lisa's blog post about the horses she is helping, and as I read this post, dear Tammy about the care you give to the animals in your life, I am just so honored and proud to know both of you:) Bless you. xx

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  4. Your chickens have you well trained, Tammy :)

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  5. Your place is just beautiful my beautiful friend. I love how well you treat all your animals. I love your house, the coop the fence. I just love the visits when you take us there thru your pics. I learn a lot and i pass on these things to my friend who has chickens. YOUR an amazing soul. I am so so glad that GOD has blessed me as your friend. oxoxoxoxo HUGS

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  6. It's a lot of work to keep such critters; I had them once when I had a small-holding, but it wasn't my idea (a lot of work). What I did though so they didn't get stuck in a small space is let them take over a shed nearby. They didn't want to go out in the heavy snows, so I used corrugated clear plastic (not fiberglass) and made a sort of 'hamster run' between the 2 structures—bent the flexible plastic to an arch and attached it to a plank. It went the whole length (maybe 8 feet) to the shed & was raised about 2 feet off the ground, so they never had to go outside to get to the shed. Some wouldn't go through the tunnel though: they were afraid to for some reason. You could always bring yours into the spare bedroom like Emma that time; just toss in a bit of scratch every now and then (I'm kidding: don't do that!).

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  7. What is scratch made of Tammy? Glad your feathered friends venture out. I remember living in northern Japan and it would snow for days-I probably got a bit cranky too!Does snow stick to the feet?

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  8. 1. The guinea looks cold, or do they always look like that? She needs a scarf for sure.
    2. We give our chickens scratch too for a midday treat but mix in some Happy Hens mix too, we have one that won't eat cracked corn.
    3. We don't have any snow yet, I'm not sure how our chickens will react, probably they will complain a lot.
    4. I always say I wish it would snow and then when it does, I wish it would go away. lol

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  9. I love your photos.
    I know for my dad, the hardest thing for him is keeping his roosters comb from getting frost bite. My parents live way up North in Wisconsin.
    We gave my dad a Banty Rooster last year for Christmas. Yay! His comb was okay last winter.
    Do you have any hints on keeping combs safe?

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    1. Carla - I live way up north too, in northern Minnesota. I've heard that putting Vaseline on the combs helps protect them!

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  10. My husband babies our chickens. We're already in the single digits all day here, so our girls are getting hot food twice a day. We toss scratch (aka Chicken Crack) into their coops for them to forage around for. We have a huge compost bin we use year-round, so they hop in there to peck around for scraps, turning the compost at the same time. Our water needs to have a heat source or it's solid within a few hours. It's all worth it though!

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  11. I am glad the chickens are venturing out! No one likes grumpy chickens :)

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  12. Consider yourself and your chickens lucky, for here in Alberta Canada, we have 3 feet of snow and lots more to come with temperatures around -30C at night and around -18C during the day. Here our chickens more or less have to stay inside during the winter. I must say that your chickens look very healthy.

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  13. That is good info. I don't any flocks now, but I have in the past. But we never have snow to worry sbout in South Louisiana .

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  14. My kids just walked in and are oohing and ahhing over your pictures. :)

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  15. Your chickens look very healthy. Obviously you take great care of them. Care can be tricky during the winter.

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  16. Glad they are faring well. I'm surprised you have so much snow there.

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  17. We're in MN. We've had snow and cold for several weeks now. I give the girls a bit of scratch and some mealworms in the morning and before they roost for the night. I love that your birds will go out in the snow. So far my girls have said, no way!

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  18. I have been giving them scratch more often now. Snow is only recently keeping them in, we have had such bitter temperatures with a wind that no one (including humans here, too) wants to be outside!

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  19. we are worlds apart, and yet Chickens seem to be chickens no matter where you are located.. especially if there is snow. ours had the same reaction over the white stuff. Glad to know we are on the right track with the scratch. :)

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  20. No snow here and your chickens look very well.

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  21. I am loving your photos of your chicken out in the snow. That has to make them happy to get out of the coop. Hope you have a happy weekend my friend.

    Hugs~

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  22. It's true to get shocked by seeing new things, but as days passed by it will be used to them. They are getting very energetic food to be active all the day.

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  23. It seems strange to see chickens out in the snow. I'm glad they adapted so well. Sending sunshine your way to melt that snow!

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  24. Tammy, I can tell you just love your chickens. I feel for your chickens, when I first saw the snow I wanted to stay inside too. Have a happy weekend!

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  25. No snow were I am, and I have only see chickens in hot and rainy weather. Haha. Great post.

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  26. I'm glad they've acclimated to the snow now. It's kind of cute how hesitant they were. I remember when my cat Ruby first saw the snow she was scared to death lol.

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  27. Great bunch of bird. They have a lot of food and are happy.
    Have a nice weekend

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  28. Good info Tammy .. Just wish I could use it on my own chicks.. I am still wanting some.. smile. xo

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  29. Well it sounds like I handled our recent artic blast like I knew what I was doing! I finally shoveled some of the snow in the run so te ladies would venture father than the front door of their coop.

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  30. Ours are reluctant to come out in that kind of weather too. But our coop is high enough off the ground that they can go under it, so they'll usually come out and at least hang out under the coop. You're right that they can get cranky if they're "cooped up" too long.
    Getting the ice out of the waterers is a pain though. I envy folks with heated waterers.

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  31. I've always wondered what it was like for those dear chicks with only "bird legs" in the snow and ice. Especially for the poor ducks that have to walk on ice!!
    I have heard that chicken's combs will freeze or get frost bite. I don't remember what they do for it?? Vaseline??

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  32. The rooster next to teh white snow-picture perfect. Our chickens are definitely not as lucky as yours. :)

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  33. i love seeing your chickens about in the snow..love all the pics you share with us...

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  34. Great post! Ours get a bit of scratch in the mornings to get them going in the cold temp's. On the days, such as snow days, when I know they will be upset I try to give them some warm carbs - oatmeal, milk and blueberries is the favorite with mac and cheese a close second. :) This gets them off to a happier start!

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  35. Great info about the scratch!
    We're still on a several day stretch of our high temps for the day staying well in the negatives. (I cheered outloud when I checked the weather a while ago & saw we're supposed to get above zero tomorrow!)
    I'm not sure if anyone commented on it or not, but a good thing for us in very cold climates is to put vaseline on the chickens' combs. It helps to prevent frostbite.
    When we had chickens quite a few years ago, the hens never got frostbite, but the rooster would freeze his toes. I learned this is common in our temps. The hens are good about roosting & keeping their feet tucked warm. But the roosters like to strut, and freeze their toes in doing so. Our rooster still lived many years, but his toes were not very pretty!
    No roosters now, and the hens are doing ok tucked in the coop. We're spoiling them as much as we can in this cold!

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  36. nice to find roosters at your place too. They seem to be ok with the snow. :)

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  37. When I was growing up, it didn't seem like our flock ever wanted to go out in the winter. Granted, they probably did on the days it was beautiful and warmer, but for the most part, they seemed to hunker down in the coop. Our coop was very large and we generally only wintered over 10-15 birds, so there was plenty of room for them to still move about.
    They loved treats of any kind and we always added lots of hay/straw to the floor and it created a warmer base as the manure and other layer of hay started to compost. A heat lamp always went on when it was below zero and we rarely had any sick ladies in the winter!

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  38. they look so warm and cozy inside!

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  39. Nice informative post, Tammy. My chickens (meat birds) are in the deep freezer so I don't need to think about tending to them in the cold weather, but I do plan to have a laying flock some day...hopefully, very soon. Your coop looks nice and cozy.

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  40. Great post Tammy. Although we don't get snow here we do get hard frost. Every evening I give my girls some scratch for fun and digestion warm for nighttime but on cold days I also make oatmeal out of the crumble and they love it!

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  41. Aren't your feathered friends delightful in the snow!

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  42. Belas fotografias de belo lugar...Espectacular....
    Votos de Boas Festas....
    Cumprimentos

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  43. This is really great info Tammy; I specially love that image of the Guinea already venturing out. I hope they get through winter okay and that they tolerate it well. I'm sure they will.

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