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Feeding Your Chickens Through the Cold Season

Chicken playing in the snow- Photo Cred: Homestead and Chill

As winter blankets the landscape in frost, it brings unique challenges for backyard chicken keepers. Ensuring your feathered friends stay healthy and content during the colder months involves thoughtful adjustments to their feeding regimen. In this post, we will explore effective winter feeding strategies to keep your chickens happy, well-nourished, and thriving in the chilly season!

Understanding Winter Nutritional Needs

A. Increased Caloric Requirements

In colder weather, chickens need extra energy to maintain body temperature. Adjust their diet to include a higher calorie content, providing the fuel they need to stay warm. 

B. Balanced Nutrition

Maintain a well-balanced diet that includes essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced diet is crucial for overall health, egg production, and feather maintenance. 

Quality Poultry Feed

A. Choosing the Right Feed

Opt for high-quality poultry feed formulated for winter conditions. Look for feeds with increased protein levels to support feather growth and overall health. 

B. Supplementing with Grains

Supplement the regular feed with grains like corn and barley. These grains provide an excellent source of energy and help chickens generate internal heat during digestion. 

Winter Hydration

A. Liquid Warmth

Ensure your chickens have access to fresh and unfrozen water at all times. Dehydration can lead to health issues, and proper hydration is essential for egg production. 

B. Hydration Hacks

Use heated waterers or check water sources frequently to prevent freezing. Adding a touch of warmth to their water can be enticing for chickens, encouraging them to stay hydrated. You can also consider adding a powder supplement to their water for extra vitamins. 

Hearty Winter Treats

A. Nutritional Treats

Offer nutritious treats to supplement their diet. Items like mealworms, black sunflower seeds, and cracked corn provide extra energy and serve as a delightful distraction during the colder days.

B. Warm Treats

Serve warm treats occasionally, such as oatmeal or cooked grains. Warm foods not only provide additional calories but also offer a comforting experience for your chickens. 

Fresh Greens

A. Sprouting Seeds

Sprout seeds indoors to provide fresh greens during the winter. Sprouted grains like barley, wheat grass, and alfalfa are rich in nutrients and offer a welcome break from the monotony of winter feed. 

B. Cabbage Pinatas

Hang cabbage or other leafy greens as "pinatas" in the coop. Chickens will peck at the hanging greens, adding entertainment (also a workout!) and nutrition to their day. 

Monitoring Body Condition

A. Frequent Health Checks

Perform regular health checks to monitor your chickens' body condition. Adjust their feed if necessary to ensure they maintain a healthy weight throughout the winter. 

B. Addressing Weight Loss

If you notice weight loss in any of your chickens, consider providing high calorie treats or switching to a more energy-dense feed. 

Shelter and Protection

A. Windbreaking and Roosting Spots

Create windbreaks around feeding areas to shield chickens from cold gusts. Ensure roosting spots are well protected, encouraging chickens to rest and digest their food comfortably. Consider getting an automatic door for the chicken coop for extra protection from frigid temperatures and wind. 

B. Cozy Feeding Stations

Set up covered feeding stations to protect food from snow and rain. This helps maintain the quality of the feed and ensures it remains appetizing to your flock.


As winter wraps its icy fingers around your homestead, adopting thoughtful feeding strategies becomes paramount for the well-being of your chickens. By understanding their nutritional needs, providing quality feed, and incorporating enriching treats, you'll not only keep your flock healthy but also nurture a sense of warmth and contentment in the winter coop. With these strategies in place, you can confidently guide your chickens through the cold season, ensuring they emerge into spring with vigor and vitality!