Preparing the Coops and Chickens for a Storm

It looks like the big snow storm of January, 2016 is going to hit south of here. That’s fine with us. I do have a bit of experience to share. This is what it looked like out our backdoor last year.



Scooter has heard the weather reports and he’s not taking any chances. He’s already hunkered down. His strategy is to find the brightest patch of sun. Unfortunately, we can’t all adopt his storm plan. Some of us have responsibilities.



You might think about packing your hens up and bringing them into the house.



Don’t. They’ll do just fine, as long as you provide them with a few essentials. I hope that your coop already has windows, good ventilation and enough floor space for each hen – at least 4 square feet minimum per bird. (For more about coop design criteria, read this FAQ.) If not, do the best you can, shovel out an area outside for them as soon as the storm clears, and plan on expanding the coop in the spring!

Whatever your coop is like, give it a thorough cleaning before the snow flies. This will reduce moisture in the air (which leads to respiratory disease) and will make it much healthier for the hens while stuck indoors. Fill the waterer and the feeder. The last thing to do before tucking them in before the storm is to give them something that will keep them busy.

Years ago I posted this photo – hang a cabbage for a rousing game of cabbage tetherball. This idea has made it’s way around the internet. I’m proud to say that I started the trend of indoor athletics for hens!



I was also an early proponent of feeding pumpkins to chickens. Any of the hard winter squash work just as well. Just in case the weather report is wrong and the storm swings up this way, I bought two spaghetti squash – it’s always good to be prepared.



I also like to put treats into suet feeders. Not suet! Too fatty. Today I put apple halves in the hanging feeder in the Big Barn.


Once you’ve set your hens up in a clean coop with water, feed and something fun to do, you can hole up in your house, get the candles and board games out, just in case, and ride out the storm without having to worry about your hens.

Stay safe, everyone!


BTW- you can purchase cards with that wonderful image of the boy and his chickens here.


  1. Thinking of you and anyone who’s in the midst of what looks like a terrible few days’ weather over there. Stay warm and safe – and all your loved ones (human, furred, hairy and feathered!) too!

    • PS I’ve often chuckled over that ‘headless chicken’ in the pumpkin photo! ;D

  2. I also love that pic of the chicken and the pumpkin. Please keep your string as short as poss on the cabbage, I know someone who had the string long and lost one of her girls when she got the string tangled round her neck. What I do is get two old hanging baskets with big holes, put the cabbage inside and make a cabbage football which I either leave on the floor or hang from a thick wire which won’t bend and get round their necks.
    Scooter knows best. Keep safe and warm everyone..:)

    • You’re right about being cautious with the string. Once it has any slack in it, I put the cabbage on the ground. You can, of course, offer the cabbage on the floor.

  3. I have no chickens to keep safe. I do have a dog that says, “Bring It!”. :) We have been fortunate here, we only got half of what they were predicting. So far. The roads aren’t fun, but they’re doable. Of more danger here were all the crazy lunatics out yesterday stocking up on bread, milk, toilet paper… The storm will be gone by this evening for us, what the heck do they need all that stuff for???? I procrastinated on buying for my son’s birthday celebration which is why I was out. I got pushed and shoved in both stores. And in one parking lot alone, I was nearly run over while on foot and my car nearly hit twice on my way out. GAH!!!

    My brother is in the DC area. Insanity. People who don’t know how to drive in snow should stay off the roads. He knows how to drive in snow, but he’s not going out just ’cause of the idiots. Over a 1,000 traffic accidents in VA since yesterday.

    Okay, rant over. Hope the snow misses you completely. Stay warm and safe. I’ll bet Scooter would love some cuddle company!

  4. Now you tell me! I did bring my favorite chicken in the house. Not due to the weather however. We managed to dodge this snow event. My Dominique (with her head tucked under her wing) was knocked from the roost to the floor by a restless Salmon 4 nights ago. Just as I was going to trudge through the snow to check on her she got back on the roost (I have a coop camera). But the next day she was limping and getting worse. Now she is crated in the warm house and getting turmeric/ pepper/ coconut oil paste for inflammation. I don’t see a break. Injury seems to be located more in the hip. I have a shoveled patch outside and straw spread over the snow and bring her out for 45 – 60 minutes of outdoor visitation each day to keep her spirits high and her place with the flock. She is improving. Starts out walking fine but by the time I bring her in the limp is noticeable again. I definately don’t want her jumping from any roosts for a few days yet. In the meantime she is resting on an old towel on my lap watching the snow storm on the news together and being grateful it isn’t us this time around.