We have had more snow the past couple of days and I have been trying to keep up with the animals. There are some things I have learned about chicken keeping in the snow, so I thought I would share some of them. You may know some (or all) of them, but maybe you will learn something new :)
1. Chickens don’t like to walk or be in the snow typically. So we have a large run for them to spend time in when the weather is bad. Our run is 8 ft tall, 8 ft wide, and 16 ft long. We are down to 13 chickens now, but have had upwards of 18 chickens in our run and they all have space.
2. Chickens will eat the snow if they can get their little heads out to reach the snow with out having to step in it. (Even if they have fresh water inside the coop) ;)
They just gobble it up.
3. Chickens are sensitive to the snow so if your chickens do walk in it you will need to watch their feet, wattle, and comb for frostbite. If your chickens do go out in the snow you may want to consider putting petroleum jelly on these areas to help prevent frostbite.
4. If your chickens are in their run all day they will create quite a mess depending on the type of bedding you have in your coop. Sand creates the least amount of dust, but we don’t have access to that much sand so we use wood chips and pine shavings so our coop gets quite dusty. I tell you this as when it is not actually snowing we open the door of the coop to let fresh air in and allow some of the dust to get out. We also try to clean the coop a little between snows to get more of the dust and cob webs out of there. ( We also do a deeper clean in the spring and fall but that’s another post).
5. Its important to give your chickens something to do while they are stuck in the coop. We usually give them different types of treats, scratch, and feed blocks to peck at and forage for.
6. We also want to give our girls a place to dust besides in the dusty wood chips and shavings, so we have a kids size swimming pool in the coop and we have a few bags of sand we dumped into it. We try to clean it out every few days as well, but the girls like the sand ‘bath’.
7. Its important to check your water as when its cold the water can freeze (sometimes more then once a day) even with a heated bucket like we have. We tend to pull out the frozen parts as we can and then leave them in the coop as the girls like to peck at it.
8. Its good to have chicken coop protectors to check things out a couple times a day to make sure no predators get too close ;)