The chicken girls have been rather dubious about the recent snowy weather: too cold with that strange white stuff on the ground. What is that?? Our chicken-wise neighbor told us that chickens hate snow so we figured they might not venture out as long as there was snow on the ground. That could be one long winter in upstate New York…
On Friday I decided to try immersion therapy. I grabbed Ella and plopped her outside in the mostly raked chicken run immediately outside the coop. We had tossed some dried corn in the run, figuring that might make being outside a bit more attractive. She stood there on perhaps 1/2″ of compacted snow, standing as if she was in the middle of a frozen lake and unsure which way to go or whether she had solid footing. Poor thing. However, the rest of the chickens saw her outside and trekked, albeit cautiously, down the ramps (see: flock mentality).
None of the chickens seemed to be thrilled (there was a lot of leaning and eating what dried corn they could reach from the security of the ramps), but apparently the strange white stuff wasn’t as scary as they had thought. They gingerly went from ramp to ground, scarfed up the corn and put up with the snow. They also finally recalled that they could get under the coop, which is conveniently snowless. Yesterday they ventured out a few more times, but never for very long.
This morning, however, Daisy and Pippi were brave chickens. We looked outside and both were in the (snowy) garden! Daisy probably flew over the fence between the orchard and garden since we saw her up on the fence a few minutes earlier. That may have reduced her exposure to the dreaded snow, but both chickens trekked through some unraked snow and then put up with several inches in the garden. Pippi was especially bold. She wandered all the way over to the far garden gate, checking out the wilted, half-frozen kohlrabi plants along the way. She and Daisy spent at least a half-hour wandering around the garden, picking at plants sticking up out of the snow. Caroline eventually followed suit on the other side of the fence in the orchard.
The chickens don’t seem to like snow, but at least three of them are putting up with it. Dried corn and the latest addition–the frostbitten Halloween pumpkin to peck at–seem to help.
Here are three photos of the chickens’ snowy adventure: Pippi in the garden (note that she’s standing on one leg); Pippi’s tracks in the snow; and three chicken butts along the orchard-garden fence (from L to R, Caroline on the orchard side, Daisy and Pippi on the garden side).
PS: Happy December 1st (!?).