Change feed with change in season?


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jul 6, 2013
White County, GA.
This year as spring was warming I changed their feed from a locally milled layer mash to a commercially produced 21% protein pellet, in effort to reduce waste and lower feed cost. Because the ladies were flinging the mash and not pecking the fines from the ground. The change was successful and the cost reduced by half, laying continued, and they looked to thin a little with the higher protein feed. Now with cold temps on the way I am considering changing the feed to a 17% protein pellet, thinking that may put on some fat for the winter. Is that advisable? Thanks for your comments.

Percheron chick

9 Years
Apr 12, 2013
Hudson, Colorado
A lower protein feed is not going to add weight, It should be very close in caloric count because you are exchanging protein for carbohydrates that have identical calories per gram. If you like the way your girls look and lay with the current feed, leave it alone. The 21% is a good choice if you are supplementing with garden and kitchen waste that his naturally low in protein.


6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
Changing feeds with the seasons is indeed advisable as their needs change, and the feeds you buy recommended for year-round fodder are often not taking into account the fact that the birds the feeds were initially developed for are often in caged and controlled environments. Free range birds, or those without climate controlled environments, will need adaptive diets.

I'm not sure about trying to put fat on them for winter, chickens retain heat more by using feathers as insulation, not fat, and burning resources to maintain higher body temperatures than mammals do.

During winter, lower protein is usually an issue, not a solution, even when you're talking about animals which have fat as well as a coat for insulation i.e. sheep commonly have low protein issues in winter and they're generally not low on fat.

Also many modern breeds do not lay down fat correctly, they tend to suffer internal buildup problems which can stop them from laying, and which offers them no warming advantage but rather plays havoc with their health, makes them predisposed to cardiovascular disease etc.

Higher energy food would probably help them more during winter, so perhaps adding some coarse grain mix or similar would be a good idea. It's really too variable between breeds, strains, feed types and brands, weather, environment etc for me to be able to give you concrete advice there. During winter, even though we're in the subtropics, we used pine boughs to insulate the main coops from wind and excess damp, just wove them among the chainlink mesh of the walls, which had all been open right up to under perch level. They loved it and I've never had problems with either weight loss or production loss in winter, but then again I don't live in a snowy place or rely on processed foods alone.

Best wishes.


Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
I feed a 20% protein feed year round to growing and mature birds.

Also chicken eat to fill a caloric need (around 2,900 if I remember right) when that need is met the stop eating.
By feeding a high calorie diet with out increasing the birds other needs like Vit/Minerals, key amino acids etc. you will end up with fat unhealthy birds. What you could do is keep them in a regular poultry feed (one that's 18 to 20% protein) and cut out all treats you may be feeding.

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