Star Milling

Winter Feeding Tips for Chickens and Horses

Winter Feeding Tips for Chickens

Photo courtesy of Ashley Ermish

As we brace for an El Niño that's expected to be the worst in recent years, don't forget the special needs of your friends outdoors. Chickens and horses require a little extra care during cold and wet weather.

Keep the chicken coop dry and free of drafts throughout the winter. Encourage your chickens to eat more and drink plenty of water because these activities help them keep warm. And remember, adequate water is also essential for growth, digestion and egg production. For best results:

  • Add Koop Clean or straw to the coop and the chicken yard to prevent frostbitten feet.
  • Ensure your chickens have a constant supply of unfrozen water. Use a heated waterer, if necessary.
  • Increase the food supply. Digestion produces heat that helps keep chickens warm.
  • Toss chicken scratch into the coop at night. Ace Hi and Kelley’s offer quality scratch at a good price. Digesting the grains provides additional heat. Corn-based scratch is preferable because it produces a lot of energy and converts to fat.

Winter Feeding Tips for Horses

Make sure your horses get enough calories or else they'll lose weight and struggle to stay warm. Water is also essential for temperature regulation, and it's necessary for certain metabolic functions and proper digestion. If a horse doesn't drink enough water, it raises the risk of impaction colic, which can be painful and cause the horse to refuse food and water.

For best results:

  • Increase the amount of long stem hay by 10% at least 72 hours before cold snaps.
  • Let your horses eat more. Don't worry about a little weight gain, especially if temperatures dip below 45 degrees. Horses use more energy to maintain their body temperature in cold weather, so extra weight helps.
  • Increase the fiber in your horses' diet. All Integrity feeds have sources of soluble fiber, which promotes digestion and also entices horses to drink more water.
  • Make salt constantly accessible to help promote drinking water.
  • Ensure their water is at least 40 degrees. If their water supply isn't heated and temperatures dip, give them warm water at least twice a day. Horses tend to drink a lot less water when it’s too cold.