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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Long term shtf, no more feed store runs, how are you going to feed your chickens during winter?
Ideally, you have dual purpose free rangers.
There is little written about feeding chickens during colonial times so not much to go on.
The best I could come up with is collecting and drying grass clippings (from an old fashioned type push mower I have). Collecting acorns. Growing pumpkins (they love them). Some pumpkins can store well if you have the space.

Any other ideas?
 

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Raw vegetable and fruit scraps are one way. Another is to let them range through and if possible roost in your livestock barn. The chickens will forage on whatever feed the livestock miss as well as any bugs they can get.
 

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I suspect that our forefathers had the original free range chickens. So go from there.
 

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If you have open property, you could build a large penned in coup on wheels and move it around from grazing area to grazing area.
Mother Earth News has plans and articles for building portable pens on wheels. Usually they are long and narrow like a trailer and the wheel just barely raise the bottom border off the ground, so as to no let it skunks or possums or any small critter. In summer they are moved every day or so and clean out the ticks and bugs and leave a little fertilizer. We also plant maize and wheat in every nook and cranny on our place. It will come up if you just sew or scatter it. It will make a head and much of it will most of the winter. If you had portable pens I guess you could just drag them over a small section as needed.

I grew up in an area with lots of jack rabbits. When we would hunt we would eat the cottontails and give the jack rabbits to a farmer. He would take out his knife and slit them open and throw some to his chickens and some to his hogs. If things actually got that bad, I suspect people would be stopping to pick up road kill.

The comment about suet is one I use for the songbirds here in the boonies. I save all old grease and batter and add flour and eggs and make a nice gravy like substance that I put in the fridge and it gets hard. They I take it out a pound or so at a time and smash as many birdseed into as I can. It helps them survive when snow and ice is on the ground. I would think it would work for chickens.
 

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our chickens eat anything they can get their beaks on.
leftover table scraps do just fine, corn, wheat, squash, bread rinds, vegetable peelings, turkey carcasses, what you got?
For sure. It dont take much to make them chickens happy. They will eat about any scraps of food just like a pig. I have fed them old canned vegetables and like stuff. Yeah they do like a turkey carcass. They are like land piranhas.
 

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Mother Earth News has plans and articles for building portable pens on wheels. Usually they are long and narrow like a trailer and the wheel just barely raise the bottom border off the ground, so as to no let it skunks or possums or any small critter. In summer they are moved every day or so and clean out the ticks and bugs and leave a little fertilizer. We also plant maize and wheat in every nook and cranny on our place. It will come up if you just sew or scatter it. It will make a head and much of it will most of the winter. If you had portable pens I guess you could just drag them over a small section as needed.

I grew up in an area with lots of jack rabbits. When we would hunt we would eat the cottontails and give the jack rabbits to a farmer. He would take out his knife and slit them open and throw some to his chickens and some to his hogs. If things actually got that bad, I suspect people would be stopping to pick up road kill.

The comment about suet is one I use for the songbirds here in the boonies. I save all old grease and batter and add flour and eggs and make a nice gravy like substance that I put in the fridge and it gets hard. They I take it out a pound or so at a time and smash as many birdseed into as I can. It helps them survive when snow and ice is on the ground. I would think it would work for chickens.
When I was growing up, we didn't have chickens but did have neighborhood birds and squirrels. Dad fed them during the winter doing sort-of what you described. When it got cold in the winter, cold enough for water to stay frozen, Dad would take a couple of old beer trays and fill them almost to the top with birdseed. We saved our bacon and sausage grease all year in coffee cans in the freezer. He would melt it on the stove, then poured the fat all over the seed. He'd put it out in the garage and let it set up overnight, then put it out for the wildlife in tubular feeders he made out of hardware cloth. They had wired-on tops so the squirrels could not get in and engage in wholesale larceny. The birds and the squirrels loved the seed and fat mixture. I gathered Grandma did something like this for the chickens when he was a kid on the farm.
 

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i was just having a short discussion about chickens with the kids earlier today.
conclusion.
chickens for eggs, or chickens for meat.
chickens for eggs make chicken meat,,,but you gotta like boiled chicken.
and chickens for meat make eggs,,, sometimes, sorta.
 

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Chickens will eat anything. When we had them, I saw them eat roaches, frogs and baby mice. Even saw a couple try to catch a stupid sparrow that landed in the chickenyard! He barely escaped. These chickens were well fed, not starving.
 

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i was just having a short discussion about chickens with the kids earlier today.
conclusion.
chickens for eggs, or chickens for meat.
chickens for eggs make chicken meat,,,but you gotta like boiled chicken.
and chickens for meat make eggs,,, sometimes, sorta.
Thankfully there are some breeds now that are for both. I'll have to look them up again if you want.
 

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I have read about using old trampolines, remove the canvas and springs, turn them upside down and tie chicken wire to the legs. Easy to move them around the yard, keep the chickens contained.
 

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I have read about using old trampolines, remove the canvas and springs, turn them upside down and tie chicken wire to the legs. Easy to move them around the yard, keep the chickens contained.
You'll need to find a way to securely cover the top if you do that to protect them from predators and from flying off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
For feeding chickens during the winter months when commercial feed is no longer available, I have found a couple of ideas.
Compost pile. It generates its own heat to keep from freezing and can be a supply of worms.
Seminole pumpkins. Although on the small size, they are super easy to grow and can store for a full year.
Hard red spring wheat. I plan on growing a little in large cattle mineral lick containers (people give them away around here). The ground only grows rocks around here so I can't plant a bunch of it.

China has stockpiled 50% of the worlds grain supply right now and is estimated to have 70% in a few months. Animal feed prices will soar. If you have any kind of livestock I would strongly suggest that you start thinking now about doing things to mitigate that.
 

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throw it out there if you run across it.
the kids are planning on replacing their birds this spring, and we are still kicking around the different breeds.

Grizz that's the good thing about raised beds.
just a foot high is enough to grow most things and 2 feet will grow damn near anything on the planet that'll grow in 90 days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
the kids are planning on replacing their birds this spring, and we are still kicking around the different breeds.
I'd like to point out the ones that we had that were not good.
The Brahma chickens get big but are hogs. They won't forage, just hang out at the feed and were poor egg layers for us.
Derbyshire red caps were terrible. They were very wild acting, and cannibalistic as chicks.
I know you didn't ask but felt that I had to throw that out there to possibly save some headaches.
 

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Chickens will eat darn near anything, they are "opportunity omnivores", heck I've seen them eat mice and lizards that wandered into their coop. They will eat nearly any root, seed, nut, vegetable, weed, or berry that grows wild.

Chickens can find something to eat year round in Alabama, though. We've already got cherries and dogwoods blossoming, and "winter" is a period of about four weeks, dispersed randomly from November to April.
 
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