The chickens work the thick mulch on their exercise/feeding yard throughout the winter. It absorbs their droppings, retaining their fertility for the garden and preventing their polluting water systems between the garden and the sea. The birds find a lot of animal food—worms, slugs, etc.—at the soil line, protected from freezing by the mulch. Come spring, a huge amount of finely-shredded mulch/compost will be at hand for the busy gardener.