Chicken Feed 101 For New Owners

Chicken Feed 101 For New Owners

Healthy hens and roosters don’t come in baskets from storks. It takes the right kind of chicken feed to turn them into active clucking fluffy butts in your coop.

 

What is chicken feed called?

There are several types of chicken feeds. Starter feed is a protein dense variety of chicken feed designed to meet the dietary requirements of baby chicks. To complicate matters, there are varieties of chicken food known as starter/grower feed, which is essentially a type of feed that chickens can eat from 1-20 weeks of age.

 

Generally, chickens are to be fed depending on their growth development stage. 

 

For baby chicks a day old to 10 weeks starter feed should be crumbles or mash that contain 18% protein. Don’t be confused with crumbles and mash. Crumbles look like tiny pieces of granola while mash are finely ground chicken feed pellets. Both are easier to be consumed by chicks compared to huge pellets.

 

Eventually, they’ll start laying. Chicken layer feed would be similar to the textured mixture of crumbles, mash, and pellets. However, It needs at least 16% protein minimum, with added calcium. Layers need high protein chicken feed as well for more eggs. You also need to stay away from feeding onions, and other strong tasting foods to layers. They cause and undesirable taste to the eggs.

 

What do you feed chickens for tasting the best eggs?

We try different types of chicken feeds, but we feed them high quality layer feed and supplement it with our very own blend of natural herbs, oyster shells, garlic for immune boosting, and apple cider vinegar granules to balance gut pH and introduce beneficial bacteria. You can check it out here.

 

What do you feed a chicken?

The basis of any good chicken diet is a high quality poultry feed. We feed our girls a layer mash, which provides them with the right amount of protein and minerals to keep them laying eggs! In short, you can feed chickens:

  1. Layer pellets (16% protein)
  2. Dried insects like black soldier fly larvae or mealworms
  3. Vegetables (here’s a list of vegetables you can feed chickens)
  4. Fruits such as grapes, berries, and melons
  5. Grasses
  6. Seeds like wheat or millet

 

What is the best feed for chickens?

The best feed is high in protein, while providing all the nutrients chickens need. While there are a lot of commercial chicken feeds on the market, I still prefer non-GMO chicken feed. We’re proud to have the best chicken feed that can even give chickens fluffy feathers and produce the best eggs! Click here to know where to get chicken feed.

 

If you want to make your own homemade feed, just make sure it has essential chicken feed ingredients. You can read my favorite chicken feed recipe here.

 

How much do you feed a chicken per day?

A well known ballpark figure for estimating purpose is 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. Keep in mind that this is a ballpark figure, and you’ll need to watch your flock’s intake. If they gobble their feed quickly, and still seem hungry, offer more.

 

Do free range chickens need feed?

Yes. Even though they have access to pasture, you still need to give them poultry chicken feed to make sure they’re getting the right kind and enough nutrition.

 

Do chickens need food and water at night?

Chickens roost and sleep at night, and they won’t get up to eat and drink until it’s light again. However, you should always provide 24 hour access to water. Here’s a list of waterers we recommend.

 

How often should chickens be fed?

How often do you feed chickens is a very common question in growing backyard chickens. Food must be available to chickens whenever they need it. The full feeding method is a good technique to guarantee that there is constant supply of feed at all times. You can also use automatic feeders like these. We’ve also reviewed Duncan Feeder’s automatic feeders here.

 

How much food does a chicken need per day?

¼ cup of a high quality chicken feed. Best to offer free choice all day.

 

Can you overfeed chickens?

Everything must be taken in moderation. Overfeeding chicken is possible and they become obese especially if they’re confined to the coop. Free range hens however get enough exercise and are unlikely to be obese.

 

Do free range chickens need scratch? 

No. They don’t. Unless it’s winter and the ground is covered in snow.

 

Then there’s also grit. Grit is not feed, it’s rocks. Chickens need grit to help digest their feed. It’s their equivalent to teeth. Free fed chicken will find their way to grit in the form of tiny bits of stone and gravel but it would be helpful if you threw some in the coop or their feed too. 

 

Grit comes as flint and oyster shell. Oyster shell is soluble and it provides calcium which would be much used by layers in particular. It’s just like feeding chickens with eggshells.

 

What should you not feed chickens? What foods are poisonous to chickens?

While looking for alternative chicken feed, you might have considered beans. Although they look like something chickens would eat, dried and raw beans are a no-no. It contains phytohaemagglutinin which is fatal to chickens. Moldy fruits and vegetables aren’t good as Fowl feed too.

 

Caffeine is also toxic to chickens. Giving them a few pecks of chocolates would not cause too much harm but remember, chocolates are known to cause cardiac arrest in birds!

 

Other foods that are not good for chicken are:

  1. Processed food
  2. Raw potato peels and green potatoes
  3. Avocado skin and pit
  4. Raw meat
  5. Greasy food

 

You can see a list of what not to feed chickens here.

 

What scraps can chickens eat?

Some table scraps that are safe for chicken to consume are:

 

  1. Vegetables (cooked or raw)
  2. Fruits (leave the seeds out)
  3. Grain
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Corn (cooked, raw, and dried)
  6. Peas
  7. Bread
  8. Yogurt

 

Again, make sure that these foods are not moldy or spoiled. You might have also heard of feeding chicken expired yogurt. It’s not something to be frowned on. Feeding chicken yogurt helps even out chicken gut bacteria for a better digestion. You can also add a few tablespoons of yogurt when fermenting chicken feed.

 

Where can I buy chicken feed?

You can find chicken feed for sale at local farm stores. You can also find them on Amazon here.

 

How can I feed my chickens cheap?

To reduce chicken feed bill, free ranging would be a good idea. A garden can provide additional and natural feed for your chicken who sometimes don’t stop eating. Another option is to make your own chicken feed. Learn how to make chicken feed and check out my chicken feed recipe here.

 

What can I grow to feed chickens? 

Growing chicken feed is not complicated at all. Remember what was in grandma’s garden and sow them! Chickens can eat vegetables like corn, lettuce, kale, and any other leafy vegetable you usually grow. Sunflower and Millet are great seed producing plants too! These make great grower feed for chickens and organic chicken feed too.

Best No Waste Chick Feeders

Best No Waste Chick Feeders

When you get baby chicks, you’ll notice quickly, they’re very messy with their feed. In this article, we talk about the best chicken feeders for no waste – and they’re all easy for baby chicks to use!

 

 

We all want our chickens to group up healthy and strong, and the best time to start them off right is when they emerge straight from the incubator. The trick is knowing how to feed your baby chicks so they stay healthy. 

 

This probably prompts you to ask “What feeders should I use for my baby chicks?”

 

The answer to this question is going to depend largely on what age your chicks are. The feeders used for day-olds might not be the same feeder that you’ll use when they’re 12 or 16 weeks old.

 

As they grow, chicks have different needs. We’re going to talk about the different feeder options for each of age group: 

  • Day olds
  • 4 weeks to 8 weeks
  • 8 weeks to 16 weeks 

 

(For adults, you can read about the best feeders here).

 

Main Takeaways:

  • You always want to use a feeder your chicks can reach
  • I use something small and easy for them to find when they’re a day old.
  • I’m not a fan of long feeders because they’re harder to open and I have to teach chicks how to use them.
  • Mason jar feeders are okay, and a good way to keep your feed supply clean.

 

Day-Olds

When they’re day-olds through the first week of their life, you’ll be concerned about whether they are getting enough food and whether they have 24-hour access to food. 

 

They are really confused and fragile when they first come out of the incubator. They need certain temperatures, so it’s really important to make sure that they have consistent access to chick starter and that it’s easy to find. 

 

There’s no evidence to support this, and this is just my own observation, but the first 24 hours of chick life is like newborn humans: they can’t see very well for the first couple of days. 

 

I think baby chicks have the same issue because while finding the feeder is instinctual, I’ve noticed that they’re very confused, especially in the first few hours after hatching through the first 48 hours. I’ve noticed that sometimes they can struggle a little bit finding the feeder, so I like to make sure that the feeders are really easy to find. 

 

I use low bowls or low pie plates. They don’t have much of a lip and they’re easy to find. We have even flipped lids to yogurts upside down (this works great for day old quail too). 

 

What I use also depends on the number of chicks I have. If we have a lot of chicks, we might use something that’s bigger or if we have three to five chicks, we’ll use yogurt containers for the first 48 hours.

 

You could also use mason jar feeders. Those are really good because they act as automatic feeders.

 

You can also use those long red feeders. I found for the first couple of days of life that they sometimes can’t find food in these very easily. They have to be shown how to use it. 

 

My chicks hatch, then for through day two, I’ll use yogurt containers. Day three and on, I’ll use the red automatic feeder. Or if we have a lot of chicks, I’ll use the pie plate, which is really easy to fill. 

 

If you read any book, they’re going to tell you to use the long red plastic feeders. I use them, but I don’t like these so much because they are a little bit tougher to open. Pie plates and yogurt tops are easier to clean and you don’t have to try to open them. 

 

These will work for the first four weeks. 

 

Four Weeks to 8 Weeks

For this age range, I tend to go for pie plates because again, they’re easy to clean; they’re cheap. After probably about week five or six, store-bought automatic feeders are harder for them to get food out of. The holes in these feeders accommodate baby chicks, but don’t as they become chickens.

 

As they get older, your chicks will wander around and forage food themselves. They tend to ignore automatic feeders anyways. Pie plates let them browse easily and they are easier for me to fill up. 

 

Eight Weeks and On

By the time that your chickens are eight weeks old, they are largely looking for their own food sources anyways. So, baby chick feeders are not really necessary. 

 

I really like this automatic feeder from Duncan’s Feeders – just be sure to install it low enough that your chicks can reach it. It’s durable, looks good, is easy to clean, and so easy to fill up.

 

This is just practical advice that I’ve learned over the years, and this is just my opinion about the best chicken feeders for no waste for baby chicks. 

Can Chickens Eat Strawberries?

Can Chickens Eat Strawberries?

 

Main Takeaways:

  • Yes, chickens can eat strawberries
  • For chicks, make sure the strawberries are very ripe and soft.
  • Make sure to squash the berries or chop them very finely
  • This shouldn’t replace regular chick starter! It’s a treat only
  • Stay away from jams, jellies, or anything with preservatives
  • If you buy berries from the store, wash them very well.
  • Consider buying berries from local sources that don’t use pesticides.

 

More reading:

Can chicks eat bananas?

Medicated vs. Unmedicated chick starter

Herbal treats for backyard chickens

Easy Herb Harvesting For Chickens!

Easy Herb Harvesting For Chickens!

Main takeaways:

  • Lemon balm and basil have lots of nutrients and health benefits for chickens
  • Ducks love them too!
  • Lemon balm is very easy to grow – you can harvest your first year, and it’ll grow back!
  • To easily clean herbs, put them into a 5 gallon bucket, add a top, and shake.

 

More reading:

Which herbs are great for hens?

How to grow an herb garden

Immune supporting herbs for chickens

 

Are Crumbles Or Mash Better For Chicks?

Are Crumbles Or Mash Better For Chicks?

Main Takeaways & Extra Info:

  • Crumbles and mash are just different ways to feed starter to chicks. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.
  • It’s important that whichever you feed, the chick starter has at least 18% protein.
  • I feed a mash because I want to make sure my chicks can eat it (particle sizes are small enough)
  • Grinding the food into a mash might preserve some of the nutrients better.
  • Crumbles have gone through an extra step of grinding, and then heating and compressing the ingredients, so some nutrients might be lost. (You can always ask the manufacturer about this)
  • Our chick starter has not been heated – just ground so baby chicks can eat it. (View our chick starter here)
  • With any chick feed be careful about getting it wet and leaving it to mold. Always change the feed out daily!

 

Additional reading:

What do chickens eat

High protein treats for chickens

Watch all the Baby Chick Series Videos here

Medicated Vs. Unmedicated Chick Starter

Medicated Vs. Unmedicated Chick Starter

The debate about medicated vs. unmedicated chick starter has been raging for decades.

 

Controversies are often unavoidable, especially when it comes to the well-being of our families. Discussions about what is best for both our human families and our animal families are inevitable. 

 

 

With increasingly available means of preventative medicine for all aspects of our families comes discussions of the relative value of such medication.   

 

There is lots of bickering back and forth on social media about whether it’s better to feed your chicks medicated chick starter or unmedicated chick starter. 

 

Today, I’m going into some facts about this controversial topic. Specifically, we’ll explore the differences between them, dispel some of the myths out there, and give you information that can help you figure out whether medicated or unmedicated is right for you.

 

Main Takeaways:

  • Medicated chick starter has an added medication called Amprolium, which “used to prevent and treat intestinal coccidiosis”. It’s not an antibiotic.
  • Coccidiosis is a parasite infestation that can occur both in adult chickens and baby chicks. It can be deadly.
  • Unmedicated chick starter does not have Amprolium or any other medicine in it.
  • The chick starter Pampered Chicken Mama produces is non-medicated. (View here)
  • Which is best for chicks? There’s no right or wrong answer. You decide what’s best for your flock.
  • I don’t personally feed medicated chick starter.
  • You can add herbs such as garlic, lemon balm, and oregano to support healthy immune system functions. Our chick starter includes these herbs.

 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there really isn’t a right or a wrong choice when it comes to these two different types of chick starter. One has some extra medication in it to help with parasite control, while the other doesn’t. 

 

In terms of their nutritional value, I personally think that they’re the same. It is fine that some people out there disagree with me on that, but my opinion is based on my own observations and experiences. 

 

Medicated Chick Starter

To look at what medicated chick starter is, it’s important to distinguish what it is not. I’m not sure who started this or why there is a misunderstanding about this product, but medicated chick starter does not have antibiotics in it. 

 

Medicated chick starter does have amprolium in it. Amprolium is a medication that prevents the growth of parasites that are naturally found in the soil.

 

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is an infestation of parasites in a chick or chicken’s gut or intestines. In baby chicks and adults too, this can be deadly. 

 

Will it kill every chick if you don’t use medicated chick starter? No. 

 

Might it a kill a chick? Possibly. 

 

Unfortunately, the veterinary medical care surrounding baby chicks, in particular, and chickens in general, isn’t very advanced. It’s really hard to acquire accurate figures surrounding Coccidiosis. 

 

I don’t know how many statistics out there show how many chicks actually die of parasite infestation. Medicated chick starter, however, was designed to directly combat both Coccidiosis and parasite infestation. 

 

In terms of the nutrient value, medicated chick starter has 18% protein in it. If it doesn’t, I would find a chick starter that does have at least 18% protein. If it’s produced by a commercial manufacturer, it’s gonna have all the nutrients your baby chicks need to grow into healthy adults. 

 

Unmedicated Chick Starter

Unmedicated chick starter doesn’t have this extra medication that helps prevent the growth of parasites. 

 

Unfortunately, these parasites are everywhere, and they’re going to be in the soil, on grass, wherever, so your chicks are going to be exposed to them. It’s up to the chick to build up an immunity against them. 

 

Some people argue that medicated chick starter doesn’t help chicks build up that immunity or that it’s somehow unnecessary to help build up that immunity. 

 

Unmedicated chick starter, again, has the amount of nutrients that they need to grow up healthy. It has all the beneficial minerals that your chicks need. 

 

Unmedicated chick starter doesn’t have the amprolium in it, and that is ultimately the only difference between the two types of chick starter.

 

Organic Options and Uses for Chickens

When some people want to raise their chickens organically or naturally, they choose to not feed the medicated chick starter. This organic approach keeps pharmaceutical medication from going through their chickens. 

 

This is important particularly for people who choose to raise their chickens for meat, like broilers. This prevents their birds from polluting people with pharmaceuticals when they are consumed. 

 

If you’re raising layers, this is not as large a problem. By the time the chicks are actually layers, you’ve probably taken them off the medicated chick starter. That means that the amprolium is not going to be in their system any longer and cannot be passed to their eggs.

Your Choice

So that’s the deal and I’m not going to tell you which to choose. 

 

What we sell in our stores is unmedicated chick starter. That seems to be more popular with people who follow me and people who buy from me.

 

I don’t think that there’s anything immoral about either one. If you choose to feed medicated chick starter, that’s fine. 

 

If you choose to feed unmedicated chick starter, that’s fine also. It just depends on what your individual goals are and what you feel is best for your flock. 

 

Just remember that the lack or inclusion of amprolium is the main difference between medicated and unmedicated chick starter.