What to feed during winter

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Wisegirl99, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. Wisegirl99

    Wisegirl99 Chirping

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    This is my first winter with my hens. I'm wondering what I should be feeding them during the winter. They have layer pellets, and I'm wondering if I should be giving them something additional in the morning. Currently each morning I am giving them chopped up apples, a banana, some whole corn, and whole oats in their run. They also have access to their layer feed all day. I'm wondering if I'm giving them too much, should I be giving them these extra treats later in the day? I've heard that they get really bored in the winter, so that's why I've been giving it to them in the morning so they can scratch around. Is it okay what I'm doing now? Or should I be giving them these foods in the afternoon so they eat more of their layer food in the day. I just don't want them to get bored and start pecking at each other during these cold months.

    Also, if it's okay to be giving them all these things in the morning, should I give them more in the afternoon? Or should I just give it to them once a day?
     
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  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

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    Minimize the amount of the treats - no more than 10 % of the diet is sometimes quoted, and split it between a couple of times per day. You have some lucky hens.
     
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  3. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

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    I would feed them these extra treats about 2 hours prior to roosting and make sure they are eating their complete balanced feed. Don't feed more than 10% of their total diet as treats.
    If you want to give them a little warmth boost in the morning, you can soak about 1/2 of their daily ration in water the night before then warm it in the microwave in the morning. I warm my fermented feed this way. I stir well after I microwave it and stick my finger in it to make sure it is just a little warm, never hot. Then I feed the chickens. They like this.
    A little corn during very cold spells is good for the extra calories to keep warm. Again, better before roosting time so they have it in the crop to use during the night.
    You can also hang a head of cabbage in the run. I've read some chickens like this and play cabbage tether ball for hours.
    I am going to make homemade flock blocks today mostly out of their fermented feed but also adding cracked corn, PB and coconut oil to increase calorie density. I will be using them when we drop down to single digit highs during the day and below zero at night. Again, this would be something they have to peck at to get the feed from.
    Good luck.
     
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  4. Wisegirl99

    Wisegirl99 Chirping

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    Thanks for your reply! Could i please have a copy of your flock block recipe?
     
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  5. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

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    Well.... I haven't made them yet! As I mentioned, I will start with about 1/2 of their normal fermented feed then add in stuff like high quality wild bird seed, cracked corn, rolled oats, wheat germ, molasses, coconut oil, chunky PB, egg whites and yogurt to get a nice sticky consistency, spread into loaf pans to a thickness of about 2" then bake them at 400 for 1/2 hour or so.
    I used this link for my starting point. You could follow this recipe and see how it works out:
    https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/10/diy-flock-block.html
    I'll post pictures of my blocks when they are done!
     
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  6. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    I feed extra chopped meat and fish in the winter. It's not really treat food, more a supplement to their diet. There are less bugs and greens here for them to forage in the winter months. They do get treats as well but not much.
     
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  7. Wisegirl99

    Wisegirl99 Chirping

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    So is whole corn and whole oats considered a treat?
     
  8. Wisegirl99

    Wisegirl99 Chirping

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    Sounds good, thanks!
     
  9. GRB73

    GRB73 Chirping

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    I leave a flock block during the day in very cold, snowy weather. I think it redirects their energy so they don't peck each other. If it is going to be single digits I give them some cracked corn just before bed.
    I also like to provide them with greens since they can't forage much in the winter. Every other day the girls get a suet basket full of greens--arugula, spinach, kale, maybe a few chopped cranberries too.
     
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  10. Unless you are doing the math to see how the nutritional profile of the corn and oats factors into their overall feed, then yes, they are both treats. Many would say that anything other than their commercial chicken feed is considered a treat. The 10% suggestion is simply to limit the "damage" from not factoring in the specific nutritional profile of the corn and oats. 90% of their food will still be appropriately balanced.
     
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