Cold and Snow vs. Open Chicken Housing: Who Will Win?

Chickens in the Snow. 7:30 AM, 18°F, Light Wind

Chickens using range feeders in the snow
It’s 18 °F outside and there’s about four inches of snow on the ground. My chickens are all in open coops that most people would consider suitable only for summer housing, never for winter housing. Not even in my mild Oregon climate.

But I not only have open houses, but all my feeding and watering is done outdoors, year-round. What’s up with that?

An open-front house in winter, from almost 100 years ago.  Fancier than mine, but still wide open. From Fresh-Air Poultry Houses.

Yesterday there was snow, and the day before there was a little bit of snow, but it was above freezing. My chickens didn’t like the looks of the snow and most of them stayed inside. To get them out to the feed, water, and nest boxes, I drove them out of their houses. The first time, there was hardly any snow, and you could see their reaction of “Hey, this isn’t bad!” Once out of the houses, they were in no rush to go back in. Later, with more snow, they were less certain, and some jumped back inside right away. We’ll see what happens today. They’ll get used to it eventually, but they need to keep eating if they’re going to keep laying, so I want them to get used to it now.

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