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 human and animal families.
Being informed is important and this post is aimed at doing just that!
There is lots of bickering back and forth on social media about whether it’s better to feed your young chicks medicated chick starter or unmedicated chick starter.
Today, I’m going to share some facts about this controversial topic. I’ll describe the differences between them, dispel some of the myths out there, and give you information that can help you figure out whether medicated or non-medicated feed is right for you.
Table of Contents (Quickly Jump To Information)
You’ve probably heard feed called several different names, so what is what? Well, it’s not complicated. Starter feed is the feed you start your chicks on. It is often called chick starter, chick starter feed, chick feed, or just starter feed. It all means the same thing.
Grower feed is slightly different however. Chick grower has less protein and not as much calcium. It’s used for “teenager” chicks, between chick stage and adulthood. You can begin grower feed between 6 and 20 weeks. Or you can skip it and feed starter feed until they are adults and then switch to layer feed.
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 kill a chick? Possibly.
Unfortunately, the veterinary medical care surrounding baby chicks isn’t very advanced. It’s really hard to acquire accurate figures surrounding Coccidiosis.
I don’t know of many statistics out there that 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 nutrient value, medicated chick starter should contain 18% protein. If it doesn’t, I would find a chick starter that does. If it’s produced by a commercial manufacturer, it’s gonna have all the nutrients your baby chicks need to grow into healthy adults.
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.
Unmedicated Chick Starter
Non-medicated chick feed doesn’t have this extra medication (Amprolium) that helps prevent the growth of parasites.
Unfortunately, these parasites are everywhere. They’re going to be in the soil, on grass, and wherever your chicks roam...so your chicks will be exposed to them. It’s up to the chick to build up immunity against them.
Some people argue that medicated chick starter prohibits chicks ability to build up that immunity or that it’s somehow unnecessary to help build up their own immunity.
Unmedicated chick starter, again, is a complete feed and has the nutrients and vitamins that they need to grow up healthy. It has all the beneficial minerals that your chicks need. However, choosing a starter with extra nutrients will be all the better. Check this one out taking special notice of the ingredients.
The fact that unmedicated chick starter doesn’t have amprolium in it is ultimately the only difference between the two types of chick starter.
Organic Options and Uses for Chickens
When people want to raise their chickens organically or naturally, they choose not to 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. The point is that 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 laying hens, you’ve probably taken them off the medicated starter and grower feed and started them on a layer feed. The good news is, by doing so, the amprolium is not going to be in their system any longer and cannot be passed to their eggs.
The Bottom Line – Medicated vs Unmedicated Chick Starter
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 crumbles. 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.
Your Choice – Medicated vs Unmedicated Chick Starter
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.
- Medicated chick starter has an added medication called Amprolium, which is 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, in case you are wondering.
- You can add herbs such as garlic, lemon balm, and oregano to support healthy immune system functions. Our chick starter includes these herbs.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.