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.
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?
Shared with Saturday's Critters, Maple Hill Hop