Chicken Feed - A Seedzbox Guide

A trip to the local feed store might be intimidating, particularly for new poultry owners. Each colourful bag of chicken feed carries numerous phrases, including "mash" and "grower feed" as well as "medicated" or "un-medicated" and "fermented."

So, how can you make sense of all the terminology and select the proper chicken food?

Their diet must have the proper proportion of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep our chickens healthy and productive. They also limit their consumption based on their energy needs, so when we feed chickens, we must ensure they consume the proper foods first.

The nutritional needs of chickens

A chicken's diet must be well-balanced to ensure its health. In addition, their diets will alter with the seasons, focusing on protein during the summer and carbs throughout the winter.

Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy for chickens during the cold months. Feeding chickens predominantly carbohydrate-based food will not receive the necessary nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Maintain this high-carb diet during the colder months.

During the summer, when feed is more easily accessible, and their bodies aren't working as hard, you can feed your chicken layer feed with a higher protein content (18 percent or greater). But, of course, organic feed or grower feed is equally effective!

Healthy chicken treats can be an excellent source of protein, but they should be fed in moderation due to their high calorie and fat content.

You can observe many physical changes to determine whether your chicken is receiving adequate nutrition. Chickens should always have clean, silky feathers and bright eyes. This indicates that their diet contains sufficient protein, fat, and vitamins A and E. (antioxidants). Add these nutrients to their diet if they do not receive them through feed or treats.

You must provide your chicken with tiny amounts of food throughout the day. Because chickens have limited storage space, feeding them in modest amounts helps keep feed safe. However, if you serve them too much food or chicken treats at once, they may not consume it all, causing their feed to spoil. When feed spoils, its nutritional value diminishes.

Types of Chicken Feed

Poultry feed is available in a range of textures, making eating easier for young chickens and giving convenience to chicken owners.

Pellets

Chicken feed pellets are compressed cylinders of chicken feed. Pellets are helpful since they maintain their shape, making them simple to pick up if your chickens knock over their feeder. Additionally, pellets are easy to serve and store.

Mash

Chicken chicks are typically fed a loose, uncooked kind of chicken feed known as mash because it is effortless to digest. However, all ages of chickens can consume the mash-based chicken feed. Additionally, the mash can be blended with hot water to make a porridge-like texture that many birds enjoy.

Crumble

Crumble chicken feed is coarser than mash but less dense than pellets. Crumble is frequently used to convert a flock from mush to pellets. However, crumble can be fed to chickens at any age. It all depends on which texture your flock chooses.

Shell Grit

To maintain a healthy digestive system, chickens must consume shell grit. Chickens store grit in their gizzards to better ground their meal and access their nutrients. In addition, shell grit increases calcium levels, which are essential for bone health and egg shell durability.

Generally, free-range birds can locate enough grit on their own. However, you must offer shell grit if your chickens spend most of their time in a coop run or gated enclosure. Shell grit should be served in a separate container from the usual feed. Overfeeding chickens is not risky because they can self-regulate their dietary needs.

Eggs From Scratch

Don't mistake chicken poop for chicken feed. Chicken scratch is a mixture of cracked corn and other grains fed to hens as a treat or dietary supplement. Scratch is an excellent energy source and can help chickens remain warm on winter nights. However, giving chicken scratch in moderation to laying hens is essential, as excessive amounts might result in undesired weight gain.

Medicated as opposed to Unmedicated

Typically, medicated and unmedicated starter and grower chicken diets are available. The amprolium in medicated feed is intended to prevent coccidiosis and other illnesses in young chicks. If your chickens have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, do not offer them medicated feed, as the effects of amprolium are incompatible with the vaccine ingredients.

Fermented

Any chicken feed can be combined with water and left to ferment organically. Fermentation releases numerous nutrients from the grain, making them more accessible to your birds. Additionally, the fermented feed might reduce your chicken feed expenses, as the increased density of the meal keeps birds fuller for longer.

Feed for Chicks

There are two primary types of chicken feed for newborn chicks: starter feed and growth feed. As its name implies, starting feed is given to chicks shortly after they hatch. Until they reach the age of six weeks, chicks are often fed starter meals. Starter feed is high in protein (typically 20 to 24 percent protein) and formulated to suit the nutritional needs of young chicks.

Between 6 and 20 weeks, chicks should be shifted to grower feed, which has 16 to 18 percent less protein than starter feed and less calcium than ordinary layer feed. It is crucial to convert to grower feed since giving too much protein to growing pullets might lead to renal or liver problems.

Feed for Egg-Laying Hens

Layer feed is formulated to fulfill the nutritional requirements of adult laying hens. It offers a balance of protein, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals that boost egg quality and production and health. To create robust egg shells, layer feed comprises typically 16 to 18 percent protein and a considerable amount of calcium. Therefore, layer feed should not be fed to hens until they are 20 weeks old or have begun laying eggs.

You can also increase your chickens' calcium intake with pulverized oyster shells or crushed egg shells. Also, layer hens require grit to aid digestion, incredibly confined ones. In addition to a high-quality layer diet, layer hens benefit from an assortment of fresh vegetables and fruits, such as:

  • Bok choy
  • Silverbeet (aka chard)
  • Endive
  • Chickweed
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Melon
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Vegetable peels
  • Fruit peels

Pastured hens naturally locate nutritious greens and may not require additional fruits and vegetables.

Feeding for Meat Hens

If you raise meat hens, you should feed them broiler chicken feed, which is available in three primary forms: starter, grower, and finisher. The high protein content of broiler chicken feed supports rapid growth. Do not feed laying hens broiler-type chicken feed since the additional protein can be hazardous to their health. For optimal growth and weight increase, ensure that broilers have access to food 24 hours a day if you are rearing them.

Conclusion

Chicken feed is an essential part of keeping your chickens healthy. Not only do they need the right food to thrive, but chicken feed can also help prevent diseases and parasites from spreading among your flock. Make sure you are providing them with the correct type of feed, and keep an eye on their weight to ensure their health is optimal.

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