Chickens need a balanced diet for good egg production and healthy growth; therefore farmers must keep a close watch on the chicken’s diet and ensure the correct feed along with plenty of water is supplied.
One of the challenges many farmers are facing is when the chickens develop the habit of selective feeding, farmers try to ensure that there is minimal feed wasted due to the chickens thrashing and raking their feed. Dine A Chook Chicken Feeders are excellent in preventing feed wastage thus saving farmers unnecessary costs.
Before choosing the right feed, farmers must have a good understanding of the different types of feeds and the importance of choosing the right one for their chickens.
We understand that choosing the right feed can be confusing so we created a list below which will explain in more detail each feed and the benefits behind choosing it.
Starter chicken feed
Baby chicks need a high protein packed diet to support the dietary needs of newborn chicks. For the first 6 weeks after birth, baby chicks can comfortably live on a diet of starter feed and water before progressing to the next phase of tasting grower feed. Starter chicken feed contains 20% -24% protein and helps the chicks to grow into healthy playful pullets (a name given to chicks under one year). Starter chicken feed is suitable only for the first 6 weeks, and you must phase it out slowly to avoid liver damage due to excess protein.
Grower chicken feed
Feed for teenage chooks is a better way to explain grower feed, and it contains the nutrients and proteins that meet the dietary requirements of chickens between 6-20 weeks, which is quite different from what baby chicks nutritional requirements. The protein content in grower feed is between 16-18%, but calcium content is lower than the regular layer feed. Grower feed nicely supports the growth needs of teenage chicks by avoiding excess supply of minerals and vitamins that cannot be utilized at this age. Once the chickens start laying eggs, it is time to switch over to layer feed.
Layer chicken feed
Chickens spend most of their lives on layer feed that contains a healthy balance of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals that help to improve the egg-laying capabilities of the flock. The protein content in layer feed is the same as that in grower feed and hovers around 16-18%, but the calcium content is higher to ensure that their eggshells are clean, crunchy, and crispier. Although layer feed contains the ingredients that you find in starter and grower feed, the combination of the ingredients does not meet the unique dietary requirements at other ages. Layer feed is recommended for 20 week old chickens or for chickens that started laying eggs.
Mash feed is the finest variety of chicken feed that is available and resembles the texture of potting soil. It’s commonly used for baby chickens as it’s easily digestible, but it can also be fed to matured chooks. Combining mash with hot water to create a porridge-like feed is also quite common, and chickens like it very much. However, this method of creating feed can increase the consumption of mash. Another concern is that mash tends to lead to more wastage due to its soil-like texture.
Crumble is a type of chicken feed that comes in between mash and pellets. This coarse variety of chicken feed looks like oatmeal, and being semi-loose is somewhat better manageable than mash. Sometimes, crumble is an excellent choice to balance the feed between mash and pellets while some coop owners admit that the flock likes crumble. The choice between mash, crumble, and pellets are more a matter of convenience and what the flock prefers because it does not make any difference in their health.
Pellets feed looks like small compact cylinders of chicken feed and this is the most common type of feed that you will come across. Due to the size and texture pellet feed ensure minimal or no wastage, which is a big attraction for poultry owners and coop owners. Even if the chickens knock over the feeder, which happens often, the feed will not go to waste. Pellets are also easy to store and serve, which makes it the most favourite choice for coop owners.
Including shell grit in the feed is an aspect that first-time coop owners are not always aware of. Shell grit is a rich source of calcium that allows hens to form delicious tasting eggs with strong shells. Lack of calcium in the diet can make chooks lay a variety of egg oddities that can be unpleasant even for the most ardent chicken lovers. Shell grit remains stored in the chicken gizzard that assist in grinding the feed and aid easy digestion. Shell grit must be a part of the diet of all mature chickens and served separately from the regular layer feed.
Not a chicken feed in the real sense of the term, chicken scratch is more like a special treat for your flock. Chicken scratch consists of some grains and cracked corn that chickens love to eat and is an excellent source of energy. It is used to keep the chickens happy without any significant health benefits. It is similar to the occasional piece of chocolate for humans.
Sujain Thomas is a freelance content writer and blogger who has written articles for several renowned blogs and websites about various uses of social media to engineer more business traffic on business websites.