A midst cold winter temperatures, it’s essential to ensure your birds are staying healthy and warm. Adjusting your flock’s feeding routine in the winter months can help your birds better manage cold stress. We’ve come up with some ideas to help your birds through the cold, but of course, prior to making dietary changes we recommend seeking the advice of your veterinarian, and taking certain factors into account, such as the types of birds you have and whether they are free run or not.
Birds need grit to aid with their digestion. Similar to how teeth are used to chew food, chickens and turkey use grit to help break down food. It’s stored in their gizzards and breaks up food so digestion can occur properly. Access to naturally occurring grit such as small pebbles is typically limited in the winter due to snow covering the ground and minimal outdoor access. To help your birds’ gizzards and digestive tracts stay healthy, consider providing supplementary poultry grit, such as limestone or oyster shells, both of which we carry at Otter Co-op Feed.
Birds have varying energy needs based on their activities and environmental factors, for example layer hens need energy to produce eggs. When winter weather hits and the temperature begins to drop, chickens in response now need to use energy to generate heat as well. The energy chickens exhaust is derived from metabolizing feed. Increasing your birds’ protein intake in the winter can help provide them with the energy they need to stay warm and lay eggs. You can boost this intake through high protein layer feeds, which we carry a selection of at our store.
Aside from the feed, you can enrich your birds’ diet through other protein-rich foods such as mealworms and hen scratch. Dried mealworms are typically loved by chickens and offer a boost of protein as well.
Vitamins and Minerals
Protein is not the only factor to consider when thinking about your birds’ needs. Nutrients such as minerals and vitamins are also crucial and contribute to a number of functions such as egg formation, shell quality, providing energy, healthy feather production and growth. Providing your birds with a ration containing a balanced vitamin mineral profile is essential to your flock’s overall health and wellness. At Co-op all our poultry rations are formulated using organic chelated trace minerals for optimal bioavailability, and a complete range of amino acids. We’ve also included a Natural Vitamin E to aid in egg production; fertility; immune response; and the functioning of nerves, muscles, and the circulatory system. Vitamin and minerals are important to consider since they can help your birds’ overcome seasonal stressors such as fluctuations in appetite and nutrient absorption, which are brought on with the changing weather conditions and reduced daylight hours.
Sufficient hydration is essential for digestion and overall health. Ensure that your birds have access to fresh water that is room temperature. If you find that the water in your coop is freezing over, be mindful to refresh the water throughout the day or you can opt for one of our heated water dispensers which can safely be placed in the coop.
Ensuring optimal nutrition for your poultry during the winter is crucial for their health and productivity. By implementing these tips, such as adjusting feed formulations, providing adequate vitamins and minerals, and addressing water intake, you can effectively meet the nutritional needs of your flock even in colder months. Remember, a well-nourished flock is more resilient to the challenges of winter, resulting in happier and healthier poultry!