Of all the animals on the farm, the chickens experience the biggest change during the winter. Chickens are naturally photo-sensitive, responding to the shorter days of winter by laying fewer eggs. By the time we get into the deep dark December-January period, only 25% of the chickens are laying an egg on a given day. Compare that to the spring & summer when as many as 75% of them are laying an egg each day.
Couple this with the fact that our chickens HATE to get their feet cold, and you’ve got a bunch of chickens who hang out in their coop all day.
We open the doors to let them out in the winter, just like we do the rest of the year. But in the winter the chickens won’t go far afield, especially if there’s snow on the ground.
A few of the younger hens will venture on down the hill to the barn to hang out with the pigs. But again, they HATE the snow, to they go to great lengths to avoid walking in it. Current procedure involves flying from the chicken coop to the top rail of the gate, then from the gate to the entrance of the barn. Chickens aren’t very strong fliers, so they have to put forth some real effort to fly the 100 yards down to the barn to see their piggy friends.
Back in the coop, some interesting ice-sculptures have started to form.
The Mega-Waterer is holding up fine, although the recent overnight lows of -9°F have made the nipples freeze up. A quick blast from the heat gun (a hair-dryer on steroids) thaws them out, and they stay thawed until the next time it gets that cold.