Saturday, February 4, 2012

Simple Idea For Winter Feeding of Chickens

Here at The Halpern Homestead, we are always looking for ways to substitute the chicken's diet in the winter. Winter for many chickens is fed based on a packaged chicken feed offered at all hours of the day. Us, as well as many of our blog friends and local friends, choose not to follow this practice as the only source of feeding during the winter. 

Summer around our home is a great time for the chickens. The hens are free range. Meaning they have unlimited access to all the bugs and vegetation that they can forage in the daylight hours. In addition to extras we provide our chickens with: garden overgrowth/weeds as well as produce damaged by the voles, daily kitchen scraps/spoils that they love so much, and any other 'human' waste that the chickens just love (rinds, cobs, seeds, anything too bitter or sour).

The winter complicates things since we aren't growing extra produce in the garden and the vegetation in the fields is limited. One idea that I really like, is buying organic produce at sale prices and feeding it to the chickens. Now in an ideal world, we would grow enough food in the garden to support us and our animals throughout the winter. Someday this will be our goal, but for now we are doing the best we can with what we have.
I was at our local natural market 2 weeks ago and found a 25lb bag of organic carrots for only $15. Screaming deal on carrots! 

Now carrots may not be a 'complete' feed for chickens in terms of needed proteins, fats, carbs, and minerals; but they have a lot more minerals and vitamins than one would think.

Nutrition facts according to the USDA

Vitamins according to http://nutritiondata.self.com.
Minerals according to http://nutritiondata.self.com.

Plenty of trace minerals such as: calcium/manganese. Electrolytes such as: potassium and magnesium. Vitamins such as: vitamins A/C/K/B6, thiamin and the wonderful folate. Small amount of protein, a large amount of dietary fiber and even iron. What more can you ask for in a low carbohydrate snack?

Carrots are well tolerated among our animal friends from the dogs to the geese, they all enjoy them. We have found that the carrots are better tolerated by the birds if shredded first.
Luckily we have a food processor with a shred blade.
It makes quick work of pounds of carrots. The usual batch is 1.5 gallons of volume.
The shredding power is almost excessive. Even the largest of carrots are gone in seconds.
Every time I take a late night snack to the birds I feel like they know I am coming.
It is well past bedtime and these birds are cruising the floor like they knew it was too soon for bed.
All birds from the hens to the ducks come running and flying for carrot time.



May not be a common practice for most, but the extra produce and attention shows in these beautiful eggs!

Thanks for reading!

3 comments:

Poppy said...

Your chickens looked like kids on Christmas morning! Lucky birds!

I really miss having our chickens. We were limited by the city codes to a small number of chickens and weren't allowed to have roosters.

It just didn't make sense to keep them any longer given the cost of food in the wintertime paired with very little egg production. I think we needed to have a lighted coop to continue egg production in the winter.

We were debating what to do with the chickens when our two black labs ate all 10 of them, feathers, feet and all.

Two questions were answered on that fateful day - 1)What should we do with the chickens? and 2) Should we refrain from feed our dogs chicken bones?

Thanks for sharing winter time feeding ideas. I'll have to remember your tips when we decide to raise chickens again!

Poppy said...

Your chickens look like my kids do on Christmas morning! Lucky birds!

Mr. H. said...

What a great deal on carrots...especially organic ones. This is a wonderful food source for your birds.