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What do chickens eat?
What do chickens eat? It is becoming increasingly popular to raise chickens for egg laying, but many people buy baby chicks before understanding how to feed chickens. A chicken feeding guide will be very useful.
Today we are going to answer some question based around how to feed chickens. I have attached an info-graphic at the end of the article for quick reference.
In this article we will educate you on what kind of feed you should be feeding your chickens as well as what stage of life you will be giving each kind of food. We will also take a few minuets to give some treat suggestions, and recommendations on feeding scraps. Lets get to it.
What do baby chicks eat?
It is always fun to buy baby chicks, but keep in mind their nutritional needs will not be met by simply giving them “Hen Food” which is commonly referred to as laying mash. So what do baby chicks eat?
Starter grower, there are three main types of chicken feed, and for the first stage of life this is what baby chicks eat. Starter Grower comes in many different sizes such as 10 pound, 25 pound, and 50 pound bags.
The feed itself is going to come as crumbles so that your baby chicks can eat the feed easily. You will continue to feed this starter feed until your chicks reach the age of 8 weeks old.
What do adolescent chickens eat?
After 8 week of age the chicken is considered an adolescent chicken, and will be moving on from eating the starter grower. At this point the chicks will start eating a “grower finisher” feed.
The feed schedule that we are discussing here today is meant for egg laying chickens. If you are raising broiler, or “meat chickens” such as a Cornish cross then you will have to adjust a bit, here is a link to a broiler chicken feed chart.
From 8 weeks till 18 weeks the grower finisher has the right mix for your developing chicken, it will also come in the form of crumbles.
As a side note, you will have the choice to either feed medicated or non medicated feed for you young chicks. The medication is targeted at fighting off coccidiosis if you click the name it will take you to the wiki to educate you on this matter.
You may want to do this, but I will say that I have raised hundreds of chickens and never used medicated feed.
What do chickens eat when they get bigger? After 18 weeks of age, your laying hens are ready to move to the last stage, laying ration.
Layer comes in two options, crumble or pellet, and will be the feed for your chicken for the rest of its life. The nutrition value that comes from this feed will be everything that your hen needs to produce eggs for you.
I prefer to feed pellets over crumbles at this stage of life. The chicken is fully capable of eating pellets without any issues, and they seem to waste less. If you give your chickens crumbles they tend to “play with the food” by tossing it around.
I see much less playing with food when I give my egg layers pellets, this translates into less money spent on feed, and more money left in the pocket.
How much should I feed my chickens?
I am a firm believer in the free choice method of feeding. Free feeding means that you give the chickens access to feed at all times, and they eat when ever they feel like it.
This assures that every chicken can get to the feed and get whatever amount their little body tells them that they need. I would recommend this method if you are in to free range chicken also.
They can eat whatever bugs weeds and so forth. If something is missing from their diet they will still have access to a complete feed to fill out their needs. They will also eat much less of the feed in this situation.
Treats for chickens
Everyone likes a treat and chickens are no different, but you need to be sure that you are giving them something that will have adverse health effects.
The big thing to look out for here salt content. You can give a wide variety of leftovers as treats, and your chickens will love them just watch out for that salt.
Black oil sunflower seeds make wonderful treats as long as you do not buy the kind for people that will be covered in salt. Look for the kind that is meant for birds.
Meal worms are as another super chicken treat great protein, and the birds love them. If you would like to buy some chicken treats here is a link to make it easy on you.
If you would like to have a good time and treat your chickens, get your self a pine cone roll it in peanut butter and then roll it in bird seed. Then simply toss it to your chickens, they will love it.
I hope you have a better understanding of what do chickens eat, and what not to feed a chicken. If I left anything out just shout it out in the comments. Do you have chickens, what do chickens eat in your backyard?