How Do the Chickens Winter?

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A common question I get when we get a big snowstorm--as we did at the end of last week, and as, apparently, we're in for again tomorrow--is, "How do the chickens do in the snow?"

My answer is always, "Much, much better than they do in the heat."

And it's true.  Following the advice that acclimating them to the cold is better than getting them used to heat and then being in trouble when the power goes out, we don't use a heat lamp in the winter.  I do try to make sure their coop is nice and clean before any big storm, since they spend the stormy days hunkered down inside.  And we do have a heated waterer--but that's more for our convenience than theirs.  (I've already spent this lifetime's quota of freezing mornings breaking ice in water bowls for animals!)

Other than that though, they weather it out quite well.  Typically, when it's really blowing they hang out inside.  Once the first blast of the storm is over, one or two will gingerly step out into the snow as if they've completely forgotten what it is.  And by the third day, they're running around the yard like it's nothing, enjoying the extra bits of scratch I throw out as a winter treat.

In fact, we've gotten pretty close to two dozen eggs these last four days.  In comparison to the 115-degree weeks in July--when not a single egg was laid--I'd say they're wintering quite well!

[Frequent readers will have already heard some of the information and stories, but for the chicken fans, please pop over and read this little guest post I did last week on Hello Bee--Raising Urban Chickens with Kids.]