Saturday, 25 October 2008

Winter Mash - Homemade Chicken Layers Feed

A recent query from keeping chickens newsletter subscriber Staci : "Thanks for the newsletter. I have enjoyed it very much. I did a little searching through it, but have not seen mention of 'winter mashes'. A friends' mother told me she remembers that her father used to feed his hens a mash of some sort to keep them laying through the winter. If you have any recipes for such a thing (the mash), I would love to see them."

I'm not sure if this is exactly what as meant by a 'Winter Mash' but there are a few mash recipes included in the 200 Eggs Chicken Care Guide (used by various poultry farmers of 'the old days'). It also includes details on food values and what a chicken needs so you can devise your own aswell. Here's one winter time mash recipe for laying hens that may help :

"From October to May I feed as follows: A mash the first thing in the morning. The mash is made as I am about to describe. Into an iron kettle holding 12 quarts I put two quarts (dry measure) cut clover, two quarts mixed feed or wheat bran, two quarts corn meal, one quart green ground bone or beef scraps, and one quart table scraps. The ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. I then take the kettle into the house and set it on the range where the metal can become warm. I next stir in a heaping teaspoonful of coarse-fine salt, and in the coldest weather sprinkle in a little black pepper. Boiling water is then added to the mash in just sufficient quantity to moisten every particle and yet not have it sticky and sloppy. I consider the mash just right to feed when I can take some up in my hand and have it feel pleasantly warm (not hot), and dry enough so that it will not adhere to the palm or fingers. Some advocate dry feeding. I have no doubt the food is just as nourishing without the water, and after they become accustomed to it (or starved into it) the hens will eat it readily enough; but before the food can be digested it must be moistened, and I think it better and safer to moisten it for the birds myself than to allow them to do so. I do not believe the bird can moisten a large handful of dry mixture after it enters the crop so evenly as I can before it goes there. Then if the mash is about the temperature of the bird's body when it is fed (or, on cold mornings, a little higher) she will not have to use up her heat in raising it to that temperature."

Photo : lanuiop


Unknown said...

Adding hot water to commercial feeds (pellets, crumbles etc.) will turn those into a nice warm mash - I actually have that very suggestion in the latest newsletter to help encourage some particularly picky eaters to tuck in (a dollop of plain yoghurt on top may make it even more enticing!). There are commercial organic feeds aswell so if you are keeping organic hens I would imagine that they would not be any less organic for having hot water added to their feeds.

Happily, most cold winter mornings are not literally 'freezing' so the mash would still be edible in most cases - if it stays around that long! :-)

Anonymous said...

My Winter Mash recipe.

Well, here in Western Australia it doesn't get nearly as cold as in the states but I have come up with my own mash recipe and I hope it is helpful.

Even parts unprocessed bran and pollard and then you even that up with oats. Soak overnight in the fridge and in the morning add about a tablespoon on molasses and heat it up. I find that three minutes in the microwave is enough if it has been soaked.

I grate up a couple of carrots depending on how many birds I have and add a dollop or two of natural yogurt and milk to bring it to the consistency of porridge and this also gets it to the right temperature for eating.

My girls love it and just peck it all up in preference to their normal feed. Hope this helps.

I then add enough milk to

Unknown said...

I know this is a really old post, but thought I would add what I have learned (still learning) in case it helps anyone.

The amount of daylight directly affects egg production. Artificial (sun)light bulbs can be used to make the hens think the days are longer.

During winter months, you can give corn towards late afternoon which will help keep the hens warm through the night. "Mash" can easily be made by adding warm water to laying pellets to make it crumbly but not soggy (too wet and it might freeze or if they step in it then the moisture could freeze on their feet. Add a handful of sunflower seeds and maybe some corn to the mash also for added protein, etc.

Also for winter, I water my hens with a dog bowl that plugs into an outdoor socket via an extension cord. Their water stays thawed and a tiny bit warm to the touch, probably helping them to digest without expending too much energy.

For additional winter care in frigid temperatures, you might put vaseline on their combs to help prevent frostbite.

As others have said, they love yogurt, along with soured milk, extra fat from meats and even hard-boiled eggs.