Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Living on Love & Fresh Air
- Steve G.
For winter feeding of chickens you might have to decide how to evaluate
the success. Most traditional feeding methods assumed you would not be
trying to get egg production over the winter, simply maintain the flock
until spring. Thus the nutritional requirements are different. There
is a natural cycle of spring hatching, summer growth and fall slaughter,
leaving a breeding flock for over-wintering. Production is then keyed
to the productive growth period of the land.
Some suggestions for winter feeding: This assumes the major factors to
consider are vitamins, carbohydrates, and protein.
Meat and fish by-products are under-utilized locally and on the farm.
Chickens can consume, as omnivores, large portions of meat and this was
a standard method in the past. Small operations in your local area may
actually be throwing these by-products away. A little known fact is
that chickens have peak performance with 26% protein as compared to the
16% usually recommended.
Growing worms is a great way to get through the winter. This operation
is easy and requires little financial input. It does take a long time
to get going and requires some work along the way. Worms don't grow
much in the cold of winter but can be stocked for winter from the
Legume hay can provide much of the vitamins and have good protein
levels. Comfrey is also good as a winter green feed.
Waste hay has a wide variety of seeds and insects that will provide a
lot of feed. If spread deep in the fall, these areas can be foraged
even in the winter. Otherwise, spread over the chicken runs in winter.
To provide carbohydrates, consider fodder or sugar beets. They are easy
to grow and store well. Also, you may have success with squash,
carrots, etc. Try to pick vegetables with higher sugar content and
store where they won't freeze. Finally make up the slack in your
provender with lower cost grains. Home grown grains are easy because
the chickens can do all the threshing. Sunflowers are also good home
grown feeds. Sprouting helps but this lowers the carbohydrate level and
not easy over a long period of time. I would sprout if there was no
better source of greens and then I would sprout to the green stage.
Chicken will forage for a percentage of their feed any time of year that
the ground is not covered with snow.
Steve UP of Michigan
> Can you suggest strategies for feeding chickens in winter? I don't
> advocate any livestock beyond fowl and these I consider a luxury.
> Chickens do fit well in my system because they consume all household
> waste and provide eggs and some meat and some fertilizer. Steve G