feeding with the seasons

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
I tried fermenting the commercial feed, and really did not have that good of luck. It just kept getting rank. Then last winter, I started soaking the grain as a way to get extra moisture into my chicks in below zero temps, and I accidentally got a great fermentation going! Love to see it bubble up each morning, smelling good!

One of the things I have noticed, is that my birds tend to eat less of the commercial layer feed at this time of year. Does anyone else notice that? And lately I have been feeding quite a bit more of the soaked scratch, much closer to a 50%. I am supposing that all scratch is not the same, and while mine does have a little corn in it, it is mostly other types of grain. I have always considered scratch an energy food, where as the commercial layer feed - a protein food. This time of year, none of mine are laying, and it is colder and snowy, I think they need more energy.

As long as I stir the wet scratch with the dry commercial feed, they do eat most of it, but often times the next morning, I see all of the grain is gone, while there is a bit of the commercial feed left. Once every 7 -10 days, I do give them a bit of meat.

Their feathers look good, they are coming out of molt well and they are active. They are not laying, but I am sure that is due to the day length.

Any thoughts or discussion?

Mrs K


I Love Autumn
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Jul 16, 2015
Mine seem to have developed a strong craving for whole corn, not cracked, I always put some out and there's always fighting over it lately, they don't do it with cracked corn, I haven't noticed a decrease in ration that seems the same, and I am getting hens that are resuming laying already after the molt.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I'd check your scratch label for protein levels.
Maybe try mixing in some of the commercial now that you have fermenting working well, see what happens.
A lot of folks ferment commercial chicken ration crumble/pellets.


5 Years
Mar 8, 2015
My Coop
My Coop
I was wondering this as well. I gave them a huge pile of grapes a day and some meal.worms but I think they like more grains in the winter
I also give tuna with shredded cheese as a treat and they love that!

Macis Papa

In the Brooder
Nov 28, 2015
Central Iowa
I've still been letting mine free range, it's been an unseasonably warm December in Iowa. They spend most of their time in some tall grass and some over grown weeds. I'm guessing they're eating weed seeds which would be a type of grain. They're only eating about 25# of all flock a week (28 hens and 1 rooster) I also give them a pint of cracked corn 3 times a day. They seem to be happy and healthy and I'm getting between 16 and 20 eggs a day. I have 2 feeders that they have access to 24/7 so whatever they're finding to eat they prefer it to the Comercial feed. I had them shut up for a week earlier this fall due to snow and they went through about 50# of feed. I know they're not finding many bugs this time of year and there isn't much green stuff for them to eat. So they must be finding some sort of grain.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
I give a fixed ration of the complete / formulated diet that is often in excess when temperatures are warm. As temperature drops and feed intake increases I being applying a mix of whole grains that are soaked with some fermentation when temperatures drop below freezing during day. Even then I am not feeding in excess so birds consume all feed applied before dark. They go to roost with good crop fill although when it gets really cold I sacrifice egg production a little quicker than I would if they had free-choice access to feed.

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
Centrachid - I think it was you that I got the idea of soaking grain. I think it really helps keep them hydrated, they don't seem so desperate for water, if a dish gets spilled. Now that I got the fermentation going, I just soak the grains in that. I am still feeding commercial feed, I stir them together.

Mrs k

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
I've been considering fermenting some whole grains or sprouting some sunflower seeds is one better than the other as far as nutrition?
Why not do both? I ferment year round (commercial feed) but add sprouts in the winter to make up for the lack of access to greens. My sprouts consist of wheat, barley, BOSS. Sometimes millet, Plot Strike brassica mix, and lentils.

rje ma

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
I usually give my girls some old fashion oatmeal with a few cranberries on a cold morning. They love it and it coaxes them out of the coop so they can get some fresh air. Mine usually lay through the winter, however this year they have taken a long time to get through the molt. They just Started to lay again the last couple of days.

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