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What to Feed Chickens in Winter - Feeding Your Hens in Winter by Cara Harrison

The main problem with poultry in winter isn't actually food, the problem is ensuring they have access to drinking water. Drinkers and ponds can freeze and chickens can't eat ice or ducks swim in it!

A warm breakfast will help them maintain body heat and condition in the coldest part of winter but you need to be careful to maintain the right balance of vitamins and minerals in the food.

Winter Poultry Feeders & Drinkers

Chickens in Winter

Once the weather becomes freezing you will notice in the morning that you drinkers and ponds freeze over and if very cold they can refreeze during the day. The drinkers can be wrapped up in a layer of bubble wrap to help prevent freezing and adding slightly warmer water in the morning helps to keep in unfrozen for longer.

In winter I don’t fill the drinkers to the top so that when the water freezes and then defrosts the expansion doesn’t split the drinker making it un-useable. Proper drinker covers can be purchased online as well to keep the water liquid throughout the winter.

Duck Pond in Winter

Ducks need water in winter and making sure it is not frozen over is a priority. Again, adding warmer water keeps it unfrozen for longer, but it may be necessary to break it up through the day. If not at home to do this a tip is to place a small ball in the pond or paddling pool and as this floats about it helps to prevent the water freezing over. Often though the ducks are in and out so much during the day it remains fine and only freezes over night.

What to Feed Chickens in Winter

Come winter poultry often enjoy warm treats which help to keep their body temperature up. Remember that treats should only be given later afternoon as they still need the nutrients from their main feed in the winter.

I make up a mash porridge in the morning for them by adding warm water and a small handful of porridge oats to a large portion of their pellets and give them this to start them off for the day as well as feeding adlib pellets. In late afternoon I scatter a handful of corn for them to peck at as this helps keep them warm overnight.

Some people like to feed a porridge for the hen's breakfast just made from oats but the danger is that the hens will fill up on this and not get all the vitamins they require. Layers pellets and mash are formulated to contain all their requirements.

Further Resources for Winter Chicken Keeping

This article is part one of a 3 part series on looking after your chickens and poultry in winter.

Home Chicken Keeping


Chicken Coops Direct


Back Garden Chickens Book
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