Column: A cure for chilly chicken toes


It finally happened: The first snowfall of the season.

Thankfully, the stress of concern of frozen water pipes, waterers, etc. has long been taken care of around the barns, and as the flurries fell a few days ago, the picturesque view of fluffy flakes settling on tin roofs and coating everything in a clean white was actually a welcomed view.

That is unless you’re a chicken.

Past experience with chickens in the snow has been that they really don’t like their little toes to touch the bright white, cold stuff. When snow falls and gathers in their run, they peek their heads out of the coop door, become very vocal (perhaps asking one another “what is this?”), gingerly bring a foot out to test the fluffy stuff and immediately retreat back inside to grab a bite of food or scratch at the bedding inside for a stray morsel.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

Since these layer chickens are a bit more spoiled than the usual farm chickens, I’ve taken on the task to encourage them to retreat from their cozy home to breathe some of the fresh winter air and also do a bit of exploring. After all, a bored chicken is a destructive chicken, and they can start picking on one another, causing sores and other maladies.

Several years ago, when I was gleaning every bit of chicken knowledge I could from articles, books, websites and word of mouth, I was alerted to the fact that if clean straw is scattered on the snow, the chickens will step onto it and immediately start exploring that area.

It doesn’t seem like much insulation, but it’s enough that I guess chicken toes don’t mind walking onto the snow when there’s a layer of straw between them and the cold stuff.

Chickens in the snow are probably one of my favorite things to catch pictures of. The cleanness of the snow matched with the brilliant colors of their feathers just makes everything beautiful. When there is snow flying, too, it looks like a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie.

I hope you and your families are able to find some of that beautifulness in this Christmas season. It may be different, but one thing is for certain, it will definitely be one of the most memorable ones. Stay safe, everyone, and Merry Christmas!

Until next time …

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display