Just like us, chickens need different food during the winter, specially if you want to keep them laying eggs! As you know, chickens need protein to make eggs but during the winter they’ll also need more carbohydrates to star warm. Feeding them properly will help them not only survive, but thrive during the cold months. Here are the best winter foods for chickens.
Very few things are more delicious to chickens than some good bugs. They’re filled with protein and highly nutritious. Live food is quite rare to find naturally during the winter, so you can always just purchase dried mealworms like these ones.
However an amazing way to get free bugs is with a bug board! Just grab any large piece of wood or any other flat surface and leave it on top of the grass for a few days. This will attract bugs that’ll crawl underneath for shelter and warmth. After a few days remove the board to put it elsewhere and let your chickens feast on live food!
It may sound weird and wasteful to feed chickens their own eggs, specially when they’ll be so few during the winter. However eggs are quite nutritious for your chickens too! Chop some garlic and add some cayenne pepper to the eggs as a natural de-wormer. It’s a great way to keep them healthy during the winter!
Your chickens will probably not be able to peck away at your garden as much as they do during the summer. Replace them with highly nutritious leafy vegetables such as spinach, microgreens, collard, kale and romaine lettuce.
You can use them to keep them active by hanging a head of cabbage from a string in their coop. You can attach the cabbage to the string with a metal hook or use this very cheap metal treat ball. It’s an easy way to keep them entertained and well fed during the winter!
We as humans naturally eat more carbs during the winter. That’s what your chickens need! Gather all of your scraps that aren’t heavily salted or sugary and feed them to your chickens. Not only is it free but it’s also good for the environment– and for that little annoying voice that complains when you waste food.
Scratch is a perfect winter food for chickens, and they love it! They need to use energy to digest scratch which keeps their body warm. You can easily make your own scratch as well! Make sure to spread it around when feeding them to keep them busy for a while.
Just like you enjoy that hot cup of cocoa to keep warm your chickens will also enjoy warm food during the winter! You can start with warm water using one of these water heaters. Feeding them warm water during the winter will not only keep them warm, it’ll keep the water from freezing. You can also cook them some warm treats like oatmeal with warm water mixed with their pellets. Keep in mind however that treats, specially when low in nutritional value, should only be provided during dinner time. This is to prevent them from getting full before they eat all of their nutrients.
Whatever you feed them, you’ll probably be feeding them more of it. Chickens usually eat about 50% more food during the winter so be generous. Don’t stress too much about feeding them too much, they’ll let you know when they’re full.
Remember to clean up the uneaten scraps at night to avoid attracting rats, a horrible chicken predator.
All the best food in the world won’t matter if your coop isn’t ready for the winter. Check out how to prepare your coop right here.
Finally make sure that they’re dry, specially if they tend to get themselves wet on the drinking water. Frostbite can be the worst thing to a chicken.
What are your favorite winter foods for your chickens? Let us know in the comments below!