winter feedind

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Chari, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. Chari

    Chari Out Of The Brooder

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    What is the best feed to feed my chickens now that it is winter?Should [​IMG]I keep giving my hens laying mash?[​IMG]
     
  2. MakNat

    MakNat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Give them lots of extra corn. Just plain cracked with the layer. The corn helps keep them warm!!
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:Sorry, this is not good advice. They basically need the same feed in summer as winter. A good regular meal at bedtime is good but it doesn't need to be warm and it shouldn't be just corn. Corn is chicken candy and has much less nutritive value than regular feed. It is a myth that corn keeps them warm; food keeps them warm, good food.

    If your hens are of laying age and laying they should be on layer feed. If they are too young to lay they should be on a feed like grower or flock raiser. You can also feed a flock raiser type feed and offer oyster shell separately if they are laying or of laying age.
     
  4. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nothing changes for me. Layermash is always available and they still get their morning and evening scratch and BOSS. Woodmort hit the nail on the head when he wrote that corn makes fat which is an insulator. My wife would give it to her horse in the winter for the same reason.
     
  5. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nothing changes for me. Layermash is available at all times and they get their morning and evening scratch and BOSS. Woodmort wrote corn produces fat for insulating. My wife would give it to her horses for the same reason.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Chari,

    I feed the same dietary staple year round with least supplementation during growing season and most when cold. Most of my birds free range.

    As temperature drops and / or wind speed increases the chicken must work harder to maintain its body temperature. This work is enabled by breakdown of feed, most of which is ultimately released as energy. The energy providing components of feed are protein (expensive), carbohydrates (cheap), and fats (intermediate in cost). Carbohydrate rich feed components (i.e. corn) when making up a large percentage of diet often result in other required dietary components coming up short. Corn is a good energy source that I used to bump up as temperature drops but my rule of thumb is that it is to repressent no more than 1/8 by weight of the food consumed. It is very likely your mash is made up in part of corn and corn by-products already. Therafter feedstuffs higher in oil (i.e. BOSS) are bumped up which requires less feed increase per unit of energy intake increase. I try not to have any grain source repressent more than 25% of intake and most are less than 1/2 that much. Any and all feed components can be a problem if too high for too long. Diversity is king with omnivores like most poultry. Generally speaking, feed consumption overall will also increases as temperature drops, which is where having feed supplied in excess can be handy. Problem with this is that uneaten feed attracts unwanted guest and if your not carefull a health risk to you flock if such feed becomes a food source for fungi and like.

    Your birds can also compensate for cold by staying out of wind, clustering together, and standing in sunlight. Or dropping off in production (eggs / growth). Mine also will even target some food components over others, apparently they prefer energy dense foods as cold stress increases. Sometimes when going gets really tough, they will abondon roost and move into doghouses with dogs.
     
  7. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Quote:That's not correct. What they need does vary by season. Their protein and mineral requirements are fixed according to age and production level, but they eat to fulfill their energy requirements, less in summer and a lot more in the winter. Generally, in the heat of summer when they are eating less, one should provide a feed with a higher nutrient density, to help get the required protein into them. Conversely, in the winter when they are eating as much as 25% more to keep warm, they don't need the extra protein and minerals that they are consuming.

    Summer = higher protein
    Winter = lower protein

    By diluting the their ration with corn, you are essentially creating a lower protein feed, just as if you had asked the feed mill to mix up a batch of say, 15% layer feed. They can use the extra energy that is provided by the corn without taking in excess protein and minerals.

    Corn is not "candy" or just a treat for the birds, it is a good source of carbohydrates that provide energy for them to maintain in cold weather.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I think as more folks chime in, a pattern will arise. Folks from colder winter climates will change diets to have more energy while folks with milder winters will not. Adding extra calories to diets of birds in milder climates will result in fat birds. Not adding extra calories to feed in colder climates will result in higher feed bills because feeds nutritionaly balanced for a warmer environment will result in more expensive protein being consumed relative to what is actually needed for growth / maintenance. I have seen this discussion played out among game chicken people and pattern seemed to be there as well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  9. egg proof

    egg proof Out Of The Brooder

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    My hens grub around the feeder till the very last light now that's it's colder. They always seem hungry. When I show up with a plate of scraps, they actually fly at me trying to get to the plate. They are on laying mash and have all they want. I am going to try more protein.
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:For a neat experiment, try something high in fat as well. If craving a specific nutrient class (protein or energy) they will likely target one over the other. Try BOSS as fat source.
     

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