Official BYC Poll: Winterizing your flock's feed: Do you change or supplement it?

Winterizing your flock's feed: Do you change or supplement it?

  • Yes, I increase their protein content.

    Votes: 40 26.5%
  • Yes, I offer them corn/scratch to help them build more fat.

    Votes: 67 44.4%
  • Yes, I offer them fatty treats.

    Votes: 25 16.6%
  • Yes, I offer them warm oatmeal or grains.

    Votes: 32 21.2%
  • Yes, I offer them fodder and/or fermented feed.

    Votes: 21 13.9%
  • No, I keep them on the same feed in winter.

    Votes: 55 36.4%
  • Other (elaborate in a reply below)

    Votes: 13 8.6%

  • Total voters
    151

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,080
15,241
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I had to pick "other".

We don't have winter. Its more like late fall for a couple days, so it really would not have been fair of me to answer.

That said, I free range my flock and they get a significant portion of their feed from the pasture, reducing my feed costs somewhat. I expect, once again, that with less growing, my birds will eat more, so my feed savings will be reduced.
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,080
15,241
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
We're not very consistent in what we feed. Right now they're getting feather fixer, with 20% protein, which is a pelleted feed, because they're molting. Come spring when they start laying consistently and fresh forage and insects are available, we'll probably switch them back to all-flock, an 18% crumble. We may switch them sooner, depending on when we put the chicks in with them (the chicks are presently on a starter formula). We will never feed layer because we have a rooster and some of the chicks are cockerels, plus we have a couple of retired old ladies. Whatever we feed has to be universally useful. But we don't supplement for winter. We toss them a handful of scratch twice a day and half a cup of mealworms once a day, just on general principles, year round. This is for 16 hens and a roo (we lost four hens to a coyote last week. Lost the roo, too, but got a replacement already).

Blue, I'm not sure which "Feather Fixer" you are offering, but if its the common one, you want to recheck the label. Nutrena Feather Fixer is 3.5% calcium +/-, too high for roosters, cockerels, retired ladies and pullets before start of lay.

I'm hoping and suspecting you have another in mind, since Nutrena Feather Fixer is only 18% protein, but wanted to mention in case someone sees your comment and chooses to duplicate your practice, but only recalls the "Feather Fixer" mention.
 

Karlawark1

In the Brooder
May 30, 2021
2
1
18
Manitoba, Canada
I live in Manitoba, Canada, where we get 4-5 weeks every winter of -40 C cold. This will be our first winter with chickens, 17 hens and one rooster. We’ve been using a layer formulation for a while now. They get to free range for an hour or two most days, but there won’t be anything for them to eat once the snow flies. Should we add something extra to their food to help them combat the cold? Is it okay for the rooster to be on a layer formulation?
 

BigBlueHen53

Love one another ❤️
Mar 5, 2019
21,290
81,286
1,287
SE Missouri, USA
Blue, I'm not sure which "Feather Fixer" you are offering, but if its the common one, you want to recheck the label. Nutrena Feather Fixer is 3.5% calcium +/-, too high for roosters, cockerels, retired ladies and pullets before start of lay.

I'm hoping and suspecting you have another in mind, since Nutrena Feather Fixer is only 18% protein, but wanted to mention in case someone sees your comment and chooses to duplicate your practice, but only recalls the "Feather Fixer" mention.
I'll check the label, Stormcrow, thanks!
 

BigBlueHen53

Love one another ❤️
Mar 5, 2019
21,290
81,286
1,287
SE Missouri, USA
Is it okay for the rooster to be on a layer formulation?
Most would advise against it. High calcium levels in a layer feed can affect non-layers' kidneys negatively. If you feed an all-flock formula and provide oyster shell in a separate container, the laying hens will help themselves and those that don't need it will ignore it.
 

Awakening Forest

FreeBird
Premium Feather Member
Aug 14, 2020
1,093
3,262
356
North Central Florida
Most would advise against it. High calcium levels in a layer feed can affect non-layers' kidneys negatively. If you feed an all-flock formula and provide oyster shell in a separate container, the laying hens will help themselves and those that don't need it will ignore it.
Just want to add for anyone who is thinking of switching an established older flock… I switched my CQ Flock which was 4 years old for the sake of my rooster Hamilton. While all the younger hens in the other coops got the idea with the separate oyster shell, my old girls didn’t and I lost two, one after the other, to egg-related issues. Huge guilt trip.

The takeaway is to switch older hens very slowly keeping an eye on their calcium intake. It was a sudden change of health and since they are CQ and were older, it may have been a disease already in progress. I’ve lost most of them already to peritonitis.

They loved the Flock Raiser by the way and it was hard to switch them back but I decided to put them back on layer crumble. Hamilton - their Roo- is also four years old and doing very well on the layer feed but they also free range and get lots of veggie scraps because this is my mother’s favorite flock.
 

Bella Dominique

Chirping
Nov 20, 2020
46
80
93
This is my first year with full molting chickens so wasn’t sure what to do. Been mixing their layer feed with flock feed because they’re still laying, but wanted to give them a little more protein. They are eating more of the oyster shells now. Last year they laid thru winter but they were young So curious to see if they slow down this year. I’m interested in using alfalfa to supplement for grass especially when it snows.
 

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