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What do your chickens eat in the winter?

Sean Barry

Joined: Apr 26, 2012
Posts: 3
Hi Paul and everyone else. My brother is starting to raise chickens in Vermont and he has set up a paddock system like the one described here. They will forage for their food in the natural environment, but what happens in the winter when their is 3 feet of snow on the ground? He is getting advice to feed them gain with a lot of soy, but he does not like the sound of that. I heard someone on an interview on a different permiculture site that they don't feed them grain and as a result they don't get any eggs in the winter and that was just fine with them. But they did not mention what or how they eat during the cold months. My brother just does not want them to go hungry. Does anyone have any thoughts or knowledge on this?
Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5726
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Chickens can be fed on any kind of storage vegetable such as winter squash, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, etc, which can be chopped and fed raw or cooked. They can also be fed on mealworms, crickets and Red Wigglers raised for that purpose. Grain is fed because it is convenient, not because grain is necessary in a chicken's diet.

Idle dreamer

John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6879
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
Traditionally, barnyard chickens were fed kitchen scraps, and produce that could not be sold at market.
They were the farm's garbage disposal.

In a northern winter, they will need enough calories to keep themselves warm, and enough protein to keep healthy.
It never hurts to keep a bag of feed on hand for those lean days. It helps make them glad to see you coming.
(Just store it where the mice & other critters can't get to it.)

If you have pumpkins, squash, etc stored and it looks like some may not survive the winter, chop it up and toss it into their yard.

Sean Barry

Joined: Apr 26, 2012
Posts: 3
This is great info, I'll share it with my brother! Thank you!
subject: What do your chickens eat in the winter?