New "weigh" for Winter Feeding

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by digitS', Dec 20, 2008.

  1. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I measured the amount of food my chickens were eating back on a day when the average daily temperature was 35°, then it got much colder. And, it is obvious that they are really "chowing down" lately.

    At 35°, each hen was eating 5 ounces (142 grams) of their commercial feed. It's easy for me to weigh their feeder and since they have that feed free-choice, weighing every 24 hours is a fairly simple thing. I bet they'd be eating just short of 8 ounces each day at the temperatures they are living with now. (The high temperature today looks like it will be 2°F. [​IMG])

    Since a Leghorn-type hen needs about 17 grams minimum of balanced protein each day and I am feeding a 20% protein feed - at 5 ounces of feed, they were getting 28 grams of protein! I figured there was no reason to over-do this even tho' their calorie needs have gone up. Lately, they've been getting lots of other things while I try to maintain their commercial feed at nearly the level it was before the big chill set in.

    At 3 ounces each day, they would be getting 17 grams of protein from the feed. I haven't gotten them down that low yet but it seems to me that this would be below the minimum for Barred Rocks & Australorps.

    DW has been "cookin' up a storm" lately. There are always lots of left-overs for a little flock of 4 hens. Right now, they are getting lots of noodles, rice, and the pumpkin I froze for them after Halloween. Also, there's other stuff like apple cores from pie making pie and left-over veggies.

    I realize that these things all have some protein but they won't add much to the numbers of grams. I have just been trying to keep them close to 4 ounces of commercial feed, give or take a little. By weighing their feeder, it turned out to be easy.

    They are laying real well with each hen turning out an egg on 80%+ of the days. [​IMG]

    Steve
     
  2. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, it totally makes sense the the protein percentage of their entire diet could be cut back in the winter, as their caloric needs increase. Plus having some interesting food keeps them occupied. Along this line, I have been wondering if I could up their fat intake somewhat (oatmeal with oil, sunflower seeds) to help them meet their needs, as fat has over twice the calories per gram (9 vs. 4). One of my hens seems to be constantly hungry, eating anything not nailed down, including pine shavings! If anyone knowledgeable could weigh in on this, that would be great! (Lazy J, Mac?)
     
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How 'bout animal fat, Chookchick?
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes I suppose I could use suet or butter. I have been thinking of making my own "bird blocks" out of suet and other stuff. (How can you tell if a bird has clogged arteries??--Do they huff and puff up the ramp?)[​IMG]
     
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Um, I wouldn't cut back on protein so much as add fat and carbs...especially for layers, who have to produce not only heat and maintain their bodies but deliver high-quality protein in eggs...we bought suet today at the meat market and will mix various things in with it...it's bitter cold, we're at the beginning of a blizzard and with hurricane-force winds. I think the hens need some extras...
     
  6. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Really, that is what I'm doing Lynne: adding carbs while not cutting back on the protein.

    I've learned that even tho' I've always got a little this or that for them in the way of treats – I was never actually giving them very much. I know that the protein is essential for eggs. Especially, I don't trust scratch even tho' I've got a bag of it [​IMG].

    The chicken door is open thru most of the day, even when the temps are just above zero. They seem to benefit from the fresh air and a little exercise. It is cold outdoors and in their coop and boy-o-boy have they increased eating! They gotta have the calories!

    They can get all those calories from a 20% protein feed. Let's say that they eat 7 ounces of it. That will give them 40 grams of protein in addition to the calorie-rich carbs. That’s about twice as much protein as they require.

    No, I think this frigid weather is a good time for me to loosen up a little on the treats. The way I can do that without going too far in the opposite direction is to weigh their 20% feed to make sure they are eating, at least, about what they'd eat in warmer weather. I keep it full so they can have whatever they want, anyway.

    I had become so tightfisted with the treats thru a warm Summer and Fall, now that the holiday season is upon us, the hens had taken to calling me Scrooge when my back was turned [​IMG]. They are now appreciating a more

    Generous Steve
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008

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