If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times… homesteading is not for the faint of heart. This pertains not only to homesteaders themselves, but to all your livestock as well. That’s why when you’re raising chickens (or any variety of animals) you must be sure they are also prepared for any hardships on the homestead. During winter you will want to be sure your chickens are well prepared with a protein boost in their chicken feed. Learn what to feed chickens during the winter with these helpful tips!
But first… watch this cute video of Chickens seeing snow for the first time.
Ways To Boost Your Chickens ’ Protein Over The Winter
Due to the fact that chickens’ laying habits are directly related to the number of hours of sunlight they get per day, many birds have stopped or significantly slowed down their laying by the beginning of November.
Some people counter this by putting a light in their coop, but I don’t like to do this for two reasons: one, birds only have a certain number of eggs in their ‘system’. The sooner you use them up, the sooner the bird’s useful laying life is over. This doesn’t feel natural to me, so I don’t do it. Two, I simply don’t like running power to my coop. Any form of electricity, heat or light in there is a fire hazard, and I hear too many horror stories.
There are other ways to keep your birds laying as long as possible though, and some will continue to lay through the cold weather and shorter days, gifting you an egg now and again, you lucky thing! A protein boost through fall and winter will help your birds survive the ice and snow, feather themselves if they’re having a late molt, and perhaps encourage them with the odd elusive egg or two.
1. Switch to a game bird / grower feed
Game bird / grower feeder usually have 18-21% protein depending on brand. Alternatively, you could cut some Calf Manna in with your feed, according to the directions on the bag. The pellets are small enough for even the little bantams.
2. Bug board
I love this one! Take a scrap piece of OSB or pressboard or whatever you have laying around, and put it down flat on the ground. Bugs, worms and other delicious things will crawl under the board for warmth and shelter. Leave it a few days, then flip the board over and let the birds go crazy on the candy farm you just made them! Just keep moving the board around every few days. I had some leftover rubber matting from inside the barn, so I use a scrap of that. It works well, and doesn’t rot like wood. The holes in it make it easy to lift and drag around.
3. Give your chickens some eggs.
I imagine that any eggs you do have will be highly valued – far too much so to be feeding them back to the chickens – but if you do have any spares, scrambling or boiling them and feeding them back to the birds will give them a valuable protein and nutrition boost. Add a little garlic powder and cayenne pepper for a natural de-wormer.
4. Kitchen scraps are great for chickens and save on your garbage output.
Any meats, dairy, vegetables, fish, carbs you have, throw them in a bowl and take them out for the birds. Just avoid any heavily salted or sugared foods.
5. Birds love cat food.
via Avian Aqua Miser
It’s a weird thing, but it’s true. Cat food also tends to be around 30% protein, which is great for them, so if you want to give them a special treat, grab them a bag the next time you’re at the grocery store.
6. Free range!
Unless you’re concerned about flying or four-legged predators, try letting your girls free range during the day when it’s warm. They can scratch about and find bugs and other things to eat – helping you out with the feed bill!
Then sit back and look forward to February – your girls should be ready to show you some love in the form of eggs by Valentine’s Day!