Cold Weather Feeding

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by digitS', Nov 25, 2008.

  1. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Back on the farm, there's a rule of thumb with regards to feeding the livestock: for every degree below freezing, throw 1% more feed over the fence. So, if it was down around zero (32° below freezing) - the cows require about 1/3 more feed.

    That might work out okay for cows but when I had pigeons I was just amazed at how much they would eat during cold weather. Conversely, the pigeons hardly seemed to eat at all when the Summer temperatures were up around 90°F. But honestly, I thought that they might be eating about 3 times more than normal during the coldest days of Winter.

    The need for more food isn't as apparent with chickens. Pigeons are very small creatures and I think that it must have a lot to do with the animal's size.

    What ideas do you have on the amount of food your chickens need during freezing temperatures?

    Steve
     
  2. setter4

    setter4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2008
    Central Pennsylvania
    Funny you should mention this. I have really noticed that mine are eating more this past week. It's been really cold, never got up to 30 degrees today and it's been snowing. Down in the teens at night.
    I would guess that they are eating about 20-25% more than they were 3 weeks ago.
    The good news is that they are still laying really well, at least 8 eggs every day from 10 hens and 10 eggs today. [​IMG]
     
  3. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    This is really interesting. I wonder if any of the old-timers here know a good formula like this for our birds?
     
  4. iajewel

    iajewel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2008
    Corning IA
    One of the biggest changes chickens go through in the winter isn't just cold, but actual food changes. They are no longer ranging, getting bugs, grass/fodder etc. There for they are hit with both the cold weather, and diet changes.

    I have found that my local grocery store can help me out here. They have to toss out all bruised or unsaleable veggies. I ask the produce man if he would save these things for me. Every other day I get boxes loaded with bags of lettuce, spinach, apples, you name it, its in there. the birds gobble it up as fast as I can open the bags or toss it in their pen.

    bugs are raw protein, something they also don't get in the winter. This too is an easy fix. We all know hunters. I ask for the hides and fat off the deer, the legs and any other part that they would other wise toss out. By the time the chickens are done peeking the hide clean, there isn't much left to burn. They eat intestine and pick the meat right off those legs. This fresh protein is vital when temps drop.

    I keep a freezer going just to store meat and things for the birds.
    Yes, its worth the cost.

    Corn = fat so I mix any feed with 50% corn.
    Your bread store is also a good place for high fat winter feed. Many like Wonder will sell bags of day old goods for 1.00 and I mean large trash bags full.

    This will all cut your winter feed bill as well as give the birds what they can't get any other way in the winter naturally.

    The only draw back to any of this is messy pens. You do have to rake the pens weekly ( you should do that anyway) I use leaves to mix in and burn the ground also so that it stays clean of poop and rotten veggie peals the birds didn't eat. Deer hides to need to be taken out as well. Over all, the birds generally come through the winter fat, laying well, and very healthy.

    making sure the birds are de-liced and wormed also helps them keep weight on all winter.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  5. chickenfever

    chickenfever Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Arizona
    Quote:Just curious, do you have a light in your coop?
     
  6. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Something that I came across today:

    Danish laying hens allowed to free-range ate between "119 and 160 g/hen per day, which was related to the low temperatures . . ."

    I couldn't find the actual study (this was the reference, pdf format ) but since these are laying hens, I have to assume that they free-range thru the Winter. So at least in Denmark, their feed consumption went up as much as 34% because of cold weather.

    Steve
     
  7. iajewel

    iajewel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2008
    Corning IA
    Free ranging in the winter isn't always a working deal. Chickens don't like snow and will avoid walking in it when at all possable. That means they are roaming less, and with snow covered ground feed is harder to get to. I would also assume its harder to measure exactly or even guess at how much they are eatting if free ranged.
    I pen my birds up for the winter so I know how much they get, and so they have a snow free pen. first sign of spring,.. they free range again.
     
  8. PAJerry

    PAJerry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 22, 2008
    Waterford, PA
    I've noticed an increase in the amount of feed used. When I REALLY noticed it was when did not have any greens or wheat sprouts to give them. The regular feeder almost emptied in one day! I shoveled an area of the run so that they could get out more and that seemed to also increase their feeding, probably because they could exercise more than when confined to the coop and 'porch' area only.
     
  9. setter4

    setter4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2008
    Central Pennsylvania
    Quote:Just curious, do you have a light in your coop?

    No. I have a little 65 watt ceramic heat bulb but it gives no light at all and only a very minimal amount of heat.
     
  10. chickenfever

    chickenfever Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Arizona
    We don't get very much snow or rain in the winter in Arizona, so I plan to free range all winter. There is not much to eat around here in the winter though, no bugs, no weeds, for that reason they do seem to be eating more feed.
     

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