If you plan on raising chickens, you should be familiar with their dietary requirements. During winter, the chicken’s diet will actually change as they start to molt. This is when they start to shed feathers. As they prepare for the cold winter season and their body starts recuperating for the next spring season, they will also change their diet. Continue reading on what to feed chickens in winter here.
It is not only their dietary requirements that will change but also the volume of food that they will need. Thus, you should be aware of these, so you can provide them with the right food that they need and the amount of food as well.
In this article, you’ll find out more about the chickens’ dietary needs in winter and the type of foods that you should feed them during this time of the year.
Dietary Requirements in Winter
When the summer is about to end, you’ll probably notice that your hen’s egg production will slow down as well. Along with this, the nutritional requirements of your hen will also change dramatically as its body transitions from a production state to a state of repair.
Basically, when the amount of daylight will go down, so is the egg production as well. Here’s how this happens.
The amount of daylight is actually responsible for signaling your hen on when they should release the yolk and start producing eggs. Therefore, once the amount of daylight slows down, the chicken won’t receive any signal that it’s about time for them to lay eggs.
This is also a way of survival mechanism for the chicks because these tiny creatures often have a very small chance of surviving during the cold winter weather.
During winter, the state of repair is crucial for the hens. It’s because laying eggs all throughout the summer could put a strain on these hens and if they will not go for a break, they will eventually get burned out.
As you probably know if a hen keeps on laying eggs, it will need to eat lots of proteins (Read related article: 12 Foods That Contains Highest Amount Of Protein for humans). But when they’re in the state where they take rest, what they need are carbohydrates, which keep them warm during the cold winter weather.back to menu ↑
What to Feed Chicken in Winter?
As winter approaches, the feed consumption of the hens will be around 1 ½ times than what they actually eat during the spring and summer seasons. Most of the first-time poultry raisers tend to get caught out during this time and are not quite prepared once their hens start to eat more food than usual.
Generally, hens eat more during winter to help keep warm. As you prepare for the coming of the winter weather, try not to get caught out and end up with no feeds to feed your chickens. It is best to stock up on feeds by the end of autumn, or you may end up with a flock of hungry and unhappy hens!
It is best to feed your hens with layer pellets during winter to provide them with all the essential nutrients that their body needs to stay healthy and strong.
Aside from the pellets, feed the chickens with cracked corn at the final half an hour of the daylight. Feeding your chicken with corn before bedtime will be a great treat for them. This will not only fill them up, but it will also help to keep them stay warm at night.
If you wanted to warm up your hens, but do not have any scratch grains to feed them, a great alternative would be the oatmeal. Place the oatmeal into a through where they can peck away. Avoid feeding them directly from the pan, or they could end up bullying each other since all of them can’t fit into the pan at once. You may also add maple syrup or banana to the oatmeal.
- Grit Supply
You can expect to face lots of challenges during the winter months and one of these is frozen ground. As you may already know, hens would get more nutrition from pecking the ground. And since the ground is frozen during winter, they won’t be able to forage. They need grits to help digest their food and the best way for them to get these are from the ground. This is why your chicken could suffer from some issues at this time of the year.
The best thing that you can do is to ensure that your chicken will get enough supply of grit. You can purchase commercial feeds and scatter these in the chicken run. It’s not necessary for you to do this every single day. A handful of the grits once in every two weeks should be more than enough to feed a small flock of about a dozen hens.back to menu ↑
How Much to Feed Your Chickens in Winter
When wintertime comes, chickens tend to eat 1-½ times more than the amount of food that they’re used to eating in summer. Instead of filling up with more pellets, it is best to feed them with other food sources. Again, do not get too caught on whether you are feeding your flock with just enough food or not. Your chicken will let you be aware if they need more food.
If you constantly find that there’s food left at their feeder when they roost at night, then take this as a sign that you’re probably giving them enough food. Thus, you may need to lessen the amount of food that you give them or this will only attract pests into their feeder.
Feeding free-range chickens would be much easier during winter. You won’t end up overfeeding them because they would prefer to pasture on their own and look for their food. While feeding the hens that are confined to a run is much more challenging, the same rule actually applies – if there are feeds left in the feeder, then you are giving them more than what they need.
Typically, you should give them around 2.2 pounds of chicken feeds each week on top of the daily treats that they will get out of scratching the grounds.
Also, the dried mealworms, dried black soldier fly larvae, dried crickets, earthworms are excellent treats for feed chickens in winter.