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Preparing your Chickens for a Blizzard or Snowstorm

Being prepared for blizzards is part of living in the northeast. Prepping your chicken coop isn't difficult but it's pretty important.

There's a blizzard on the way. But although more than two feet of snow is predicted this go-around for us here in Maine, there's not a whole lot I need to do to get ready for it - as far as the chickens are concerned.

But it is important to be sure my supplies are stocked and I have plenty of feed and bedding on hand.

Preparing your Chickens for a Blizzard or Snowstorm

In late fall, I winterize my coop and chicken run, so everything is already set up to keep my chickens warm through the winter. And I don't heat my coop, so losing power isn't a concern for us.

But a blizzard or major snowstorm does present some unique challenges, so there are a few things I do to prepare for it.

I make sure my coop is wrapped in tarps before the snow starts. The tarps will block the wind and swirling snow and keep much of it out of the run.

One caution:

If you have a covered run, be sure the top can support the weight of snow. If it can't, make sure to either remove part of the cover before the snow starts, or be vigilant about removing the snow periodically so the top doesn't collapse. 

Snow is heavy and every year, chicken runs...and sometime even coop... collapse under the weight.  

It's very important to be fully stocked with supplies before the snow starts. Between downed trees or power lines, closed roads, or waiting for your town to clear the roads, it could be several days or even weeks before you are able to get to the feed store.

It's best not to even have to worry about venturing out until the storm is a distant memory.

And like the grocery store, items do tend to disappear off the feed shelves pretty quickly when a blizzard is on its way!

Here's my supplies list:

Several bags of feed (at least two weeks worth)

Scratch Grains (again, enough to last two weeks)

Straw bales

First Aid Items

Snow Shovel!

Chicken Feed 

Buying a few extra bags of feed is a good idea as a winter storm approaches. Remember that even if you are able to dig out fairly quickly, the storm might prevent delivery trucks from being able to restock your feed store, your feed store might be closed or roads might be unpassable.

Figure on each chicken eating about 1/2 cup of feed per day to calculate how much feed you need per week.

Scratch Grains 

I like to stock up on scratch grains before a storm as well. It's likely that you'll want to keep your chickens locked up in their coop (something I generally don't recommend, but during a blizzard would be an exception to the rule!) and scattering the grains on the coop floor will help to keep your chickens busy - and warm!

Don't forget to leave them some water in the coop as well if they will be locked up for an extended period of time. Again, not something I normally do - they usually eat and drink outside year round, but during a blizzard I would make an exception.

And if there's any chance you might not be able to even get to the coop for several hours, then I would recommend leaving feed for them as well - although feeding inside the coop is something I really try to avoid at all costs! (it just makes a huge mess and attracts rodents)

Straw (or Shavings)

Especially if the storm is bringing colder temperatures with it, you'll want to have extra coop bedding on hand.

Adding an extra layer of straw on the floor of your coop will help to keep your flock warmer, and scattering straw over the snow once the storm is over  and you've had a chance to shovel some paths will entice your chickens outside for some fresh air and exercise.

Stacking bales of straw or shavings along the walls of the coop also help keep it warmer. And again, it might be awhile until your feed store is able to get their regular delivery, so keeping a few extra bales on hand isn't a bad idea.

First Aid Items

It's not a bad time to be sure your first aid kit is fully stocked. Just in case. Basic things like gauze, medical tape, etc. to treat minor injuries or wounds might come in handy, especially with your chickens inside the coop for an extended period of time.

Like us, they can get grumpy in close quarters for an extended period of time and pecking issues might be prevalent.

As I mentioned earlier, while I don't generally ever recommend locking up your chickens, during the height of a blizzard when the snow is really coming down and likely blowing around, it's a good idea to keep them inside.


Don't forget to find your snow shovel, winter coat and hat, boots, and mittens, and have them handy! 

Just making these few simple blizzard preparations will ensure that your chickens will fare just fine through the storm.

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