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  • Feeding chickens fat....

    Ok, I have 4 young laying hens and it's really cold up here!
    I learned about chickens "old school" and feeding them table scraps is a common practice, especially in winter! The thing is, it gets real cold here in winter and even though these chickens are cold hardy stock, I know they need extra fat an calories in the winter. I feed them "laying feed", cracked corn and table scraps but I'm worried about too much fat. Or will they know when they had enough? I'm letting them have the turkey carcase (along with the skin and fat) a little at a time, or should I just let them have at the whole thing? And what about beef and pork fat? how much at a time? They will free range when the weather gets better but the coyotes and other predators get too daring here in the winter to let them run.

    Thanks
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  • #2
    Chickens are omnivores and since vegetation is almost non-existent in winter, their natural food is animal based such as dead carcasses. They can have all they want in winter. They wont get fat from eating fat. What they do get is protein, aminos and energy, all what they need to handle the cold.
    In fact winter is the time that the risk of cannibalism, egg eating and feather picking, is highest if the birds lack in animal proteins.
    I personally dont even used layer rations as its designed for high production commercial birds that are kept 1 to the max of 2 years for egg production, then slaughtered. So long term nutrition is not figured in the manufacturing of layer feeds.
    My birds are kept for several years and so I feed game bird pellets as it has more protein, better balanced nutrition, as chickens need the same nutrition as game birds (both omnivorous), and doesn't stimulate over production nor does it cause deficiencies that lead to feather picking, egg eating, stress and so on.
    Out of 12 hens I get an average of 10 eggs per day in spring and summer and fall. They drop to 5 eggs per day in winter. Not bad for 4 year old birds.
    My birds always get table scraps too. No waste around here.
    :boing:

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Shanti View Post
      Chickens are omnivores
      Learn something new every day! I always knew healthy chickens ate lots of bugs, but I had no idea that "bug protein" meant that meats (including poultry!!!) were OK for them.

      Although something seems sadistic about feeding chickens turkey...

      Out of 12 hens I get an average of 10 eggs per day in spring and summer and fall. They drop to 5 eggs per day in winter.
      Goodness me! What do you do with so many eggs? Even in my eggiest moods, I rarely make it through a dozen eggs before they go bad...

      My birds always get table scraps too. No waste around here.
      I wish we could feed our cat table scraps, but we always salt the meat too much - it would NOT be good for him! Probably not that great for us, but...

      Oh well, he has an excellent balanced kibble, and gets treats now and again if I remember to cut a bit before I salt it. I think he eats healthier than we do!
      "The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star stuff.
      We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

      Carl Sagan, as quoted by The Symphony of Science

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      • #4
        Our eggs are used for barter for the fire wood we need in winter.
        We dont use many eggs, maybe a few in a week.
        We dont have a furnace, we heat with a wood stove.
        So the guy that keeps us in firewood gets most of our eggs all year round and he in turn eats them, and also passes them to his family and friends. Any extras he has, he too barters them.

        If we heated with our furnace as we once did, cost us 6k per year.
        If we bought our wood it would cost us 1,200 per year.
        Our chickens cost us 550 per year to keep fed and healthy.

        So we heat our house for 550 bucks per year.
        Last edited by Shanti; December 15th, 2010, 06:49 PM.
        :boing:

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Shanti View Post
          Our eggs are used for barter for the fire wood we need in winter.
          We dont use many eggs, maybe a few in a week.
          We dont have a furnace, we heat with a wood stove.
          So the guy that keeps us in firewood gets most of our eggs all year round and he in turn eats them, and also passes them to his family and friends. Any extras he has, he too barters them.

          If we heated with our furnace as we once did, cost us 6k per year.
          If we bought our wood it would cost us 1,200 per year.
          Our chickens cost us 550 per year to keep fed and healthy.

          So we heat our house for 550 bucks per year.
          Le Awesome. I would estimate that I pay about $480/year in gas bills (including cooking use, so it's probably less than that)... but I'd much RATHER have pet chickens that ALSO feed us that ALSO pay for the heating. :hahugh:

          Plus gas prices can vary so much depending on where you live, AND I have no idea if there are even natural gas lines out to where you live!

          I think you've got an awesome system going on there.
          "The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star stuff.
          We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

          Carl Sagan, as quoted by The Symphony of Science

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sequoia View Post
            Le Awesome. I would estimate that I pay about $480/year in gas bills (including cooking use, so it's probably less than that)... but I'd much RATHER have pet chickens that ALSO feed us that ALSO pay for the heating. :hahugh:

            Plus gas prices can vary so much depending on where you live, AND I have no idea if there are even natural gas lines out to where you live!

            I think you've got an awesome system going on there.
            LOL. No natural gas out here! Propane or oil or wood. We have propane for cooking and hot water and that alone cost us 80 bucks every 2 months for 100 pounds, which is 23 gallons.

            The chickens are more of a need for us, especially in these cold winters!
            We cant afford propane to heat with. Thats why we ripped the furnace out.
            :boing:

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sequoia View Post
              Learn something new every day! I always knew healthy chickens ate lots of bugs, but I had no idea that "bug protein" meant that meats (including poultry!!!) were OK for them.

              Although something seems sadistic about feeding chickens turkey...
              LOL...they love eating fowl!!! Even chicken! My neighbor would throw the "scraps" to the "lucky" chickens when he butchered. I know it's hard to swallow for some people, but pig farmers will throw the pigs pork scraps too.



              Goodness me! What do you do with so many eggs? Even in my eggiest moods, I rarely make it through a dozen eggs before they go bad...
              If I ever get enough layers going... I have 4 grown kids and their families to provide for too! As it is, only getting 2-4 eggs a day there is a bit of discord over who gets eggs! I would like to have enough th use for barter too, there's allot we could use.... like wood! lol
              I also want some meat chickens this spring!

              Well, I'm not worried if they get too much fat anymore, they get almost all the scraps now and love it. I also made a mash that my hubby serves them warm in the morning. It has their laying feed, some cat kibble, cracked corn, and what ever I found when I cleaned out the freezer, there was some freezer burned "mystery meat" and I even found a little over a pound of freezer burned craw-fish! (I ground them up before they went in the pot) I cooked it up, added some veggies at the end of cooking and spread the mash on cookie sheets and dried it in the oven 'till I could crumble it. I the broke it up and put the crumbles in the dehydrator and made "chicken chow". They get a scoop of that soaked in warm water for breakfast. Oh, there was some cornflakes, crisped rice, and wheat crackers that got buggy so bugs and all... in the pot!

              I picked up some black (oil) sunflower seed too that I'm throwing down for scratch.

              They seem happy and healthy. The layer feed is just a "base" feed and they get lots of other stuff too but with only 2 of us in the house now, we don't make as much scraps or leftovers so extra feed and some "bought" treats like the sunflowers, though this summer I'll grow my own sunflowers too! I'll look for game bird pellets next time I need feed. I bet it would make great mash too.

              Thanks for the help, I just didn't want to clog their arteries! LOL


              BTW... what do you do for water? I'm using a heated dog bowle that made a lid for to help keep it clean.
              Last edited by Cindlady2; December 21st, 2010, 03:18 AM.
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              • #8
                Water in winter...LOL
                Living the way we do, we dont run up electric bills heating water.
                Instead we fill cleaned 1 gallon milk jugs and haul water out to the chickens, sheep and barn cats. We just knock out the frozen water from the water bowls and refill, sometimes several times a day depending on how cold it is and how fast the water freezes.

                In reality, animals, including chickens eat snow for water. My sheep rarely drink water once there is snow on the ground. I still offer fresh water everyday but it usually just sits till it turns to ice since the sheep prefer the snow.

                The chickens love fresh water but when thirsty and water is frozen, they also eat snow with no bad side effects. But they prefer water, and as long as thawed water is available they wont eat the snow.

                Its when there is no snow and temps are bad that fresh water is needed most, usually 2-3 times a day. When there is snow 1-2 times a day in the frigid cold is good.

                Also how fast the water freezes plays a role. Our coop stays 5-10 degrees warmer than outside. I use the deep bedding method in winter and the breaking down of the substrate makes warmth. The water bowl is in the substrate so it takes a while, a few hours, even in teen weather to freeze.
                So its rare we need to go to the coop more than 2 times in a day.
                :boing:

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                • #9
                  My chickens do NOT like the snow!!! Cold is ok... but the snow freaks them out. I've even thrown scratch in the snow to get them out in it!!! They LOOK at it... but as soon as a foot hits it... back in the coop they go! But then, the coop may look funny, but it's nice in that it's on the "back side" of the greenhouse area. They get lots of light and "solar heat". During the day it hasn't hit freezing in there but it dose get cold at night. That's why the warm mash for breakfast. I think it helps with the egg laying.
                  LOL... I let them go in the green house (about 5'x 10' and another 4'x 8' ?) during the day sometimes. They dug out one of the pepper plants (it was already dead) from the pot and are now using the pot for dirt baths! Hehehe... at least they're taking their baths!
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                  • #10
                    When I was growing up we always fed our chickens table scraps. There were three buckets under the sink, pigs, chickens and compost.

                    My grandparents raised most of the feed for our livestock so there was never any laying feed or anything like that.

                    The only thing they bought was gravel.
                    Khara's Chaos

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                    • #11
                      I got them out in the snow!!! Well, for a little bit, and I don't think they were happy...lol It was a nice day (for winter) and I had to clean the poop from the coop so I threw out some scratch, "helped them out" and shut the door 'till I was done! Hehehe Soon as I opened the door they came RUNNING back in! Oh well, at least they know it's not going to kill them. LOL
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by )O( ~ Khara~ )O( View Post
                        When I was growing up we always fed our chickens table scraps. There were three buckets under the sink, pigs, chickens and compost.

                        My grandparents raised most of the feed for our livestock so there was never any laying feed or anything like that.

                        The only thing they bought was gravel.
                        I was raised "old school" too, but sometimes I look at the scrap bucket and think "I wouldn't give that much fat to the dog!" But I decided when there is allot of fat I will feed it over a few days. In the summer I will cut back a bit, but I know in winter they need more fat and calories to keep warm. I also decided to make sure they get more protein. I had a plain fried egg the other day and after a couple of bites I thought "Needs more bug!" LOL

                        The Layer feed I get has extra A and E in it and since my girls won't go out in the snow I figured they could use the A. And like I said, with just the 2 of us we don't make that much scarp:weirdsmil
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