When I go out to the chicken coop first thing in the morning I open up their little door and they all rush out. Usually walking and jumping on each other, trying to cram through the door two or three at a time.
But the other day when it snowed a couple inches, it took them a few hours to wander out and most of them headed strait for the barn so they could take dust baths, dig around in the fire wood for bugs and harass the barn cats. That night we had to carry a few back to the coop, they didn’t want to walk back through the snow!
On Christmas day we received a foot of snow (we blame this on our 9 year old, she was praying for a white Christmas 😉 ) and it’s not melting off very fast. The chickens now refuse to come out of the coop. They will step out, look around, fluff up their feathers and jump right back in the door. You can’t blame them, that white stuff is cold and deep.
With no free ranging going on they have been going through a LOT of feed and water!! I highly recommend that if there is any possibility that your chickens can be let out to forage around….let them!! I’m guessing it cuts the feed costs by half, if not more. (I am keeping track and will let you know exact numbers later). Not to mention it makes for very healthy, happy chickens and more nutritious eggs. Anyway, I got worried about the hungry little buggers getting bored all cooped up. Bored chickens are not a good thing, they will start pecking at each other and if it gets to bad the results could be deadly. 🙁 So I cut open an acorn squash and gave that to them, and they spent hours picking at it; the only part left is a thin layer of peel. The next day we hung up half of a large cabbage in the coop. They seemed disinterested at first, but when I went out that night to shut the door most of the cabbage was gone. We hung up the second half of the cabbage the next day. This one didn’t last long!! Hanging them up is purely for the entertainment value, (for the chickens, not us….well maybe for us too). Watching chickens chase a spinning, bouncing cabbage around the coop WAS very entertaining.
This spring I intend to plant tons of cabbage, pumpkins, and squash just for the chickens to have next winter (and maybe enough for us to have some too).