What types of chicken feed are available?
You need to follow the guidelines based on age and laying stage, as above. But aside from that, for grown chickens, there are variations:
Similar to standard feed, mixed corn poultry feed is a grain mix made up primarily of maize and wheat. It’s primarily used as a treat rather than as the main food source.
Pellets are probably the most common type of feed on the market, as they take all the goodness of standard chicken feed and then process it into pellet shapes. This makes them easier to manage and their compact shape reduces mess and leftover waste.
Chicken feed mash is exactly what it sounds like and is simply a big bag of ground-up (mashed) grains and other ingredients. This is mostly marketed at chicks and very young chickens as it’s much easier for them to gobble this up. The downside to mash is that a lot of it goes to waste on the ground. To combat this, many owners like to ferment mash by serving it wet, making it thicker in texture and easier to manage.
Crumble is just the midway point between pellets and mash and is essentially just slightly ground up pellets. This just gives chicks an easier eating opportunity without creating as much mess as mash!
Similar to suet balls you might put out for garden birds, you do on occasion see high energy balls being marketed at chickens too! These are obviously a lot easier to manage in terms of preventing waste products and their structure means they often have good longevity and can survive bad weather.
Which ingredients should I look for?
In most cases chicken feed will be your birds only source of nutrition, meaning their feed needs to be able to offer high-quality nourishment, especially if you want a hen to lay healthy and strong eggs.
The main components you want to watch out for are these:
Just like with most animals on this planet, protein is an absolute must for helping chickens stay strong and energised, with most feeds being particularly high in this food group.
If your feed does not actually list the term amino acids, look out for common ones like lysine and methionine in the ingredients list. Amino acids are vital in helping hens grow and function properly and are seen as essential for most animal diets.
We humans know all about the importance of vitamins and minerals, and chickens need them in their diet just as much as we do! Vitamins A, E, D3 and B12 as well as trace elements such as phosphorus and copper sulfate are all good for your flock.
These help with the digestion of your bird and natural fibre in grains also help to do this too.
Omega 3 Oils
If you are raising laying hens, your feed is often entirely revolved around ensuring their eggs are strong and healthy to eat. Omega 3 in feed is often passed through to an egg’s own Omega 3 count, enhancing your product.
For laying hens, you want eggs to be as strong as possible, as there’s nothing more upsetting or annoying than a fragile and easily broken egg. Plenty of calcium boosting ingredients can help strengthen these eggs up, as well as improve the bone health of your chicken!
When should I change chicken feed?
Knowing when to switch chicken feed is often confusing, as it’s difficult to tell at what age your chicken will suddenly need a new range of nutrients and vitamins.
Generally, a baby chick will need starter food for the first 6 weeks of their life before moving onto grower feed.
From there, younger fowls will need grower feed until they start laying their first eggs. More often than not, this occurs at around 18 weeks of age. At this point, you can make the change over to layer food.
Whenever you switch over to a new feed though, you need to be careful that you do so slowly and gradually over around a period of a week. This can simply be done by slowly retracting a few grams of their current feed every day and replacing it with a small amount of the new feed. Then by the end of the week, they should have made the transition between the two.
Doing this slowly helps prevent hens from suffering digestion issues, as sudden and extreme changes in their diet can often lead them to become ill.
How much feed does a chicken need per day?
A general rule of thumb for chicken feeding is to provide your flock with 125g of feed per chicken every day.
Alternatively, you could work this out as needing around 685g of feed per chicken every week.
So a standard 20 Kg bag of chicken feed would feed one chicken for 29 weeks (almost 7 months).
But if you had four chickens, it would last you just one month!
Which chicken feed is highest in protein?
Generally, starter chicken feed for baby chicks is always the highest in protein and usually offers around 20 – 25% protein in total to help stimulate growth.
However if you are merely just looking to boost an adult chicken’s protein intake, there are certain layer feeds which boast higher protein contents.