Originally Posted by Mely75
Hoping someone can enlighten this beginner on the ins and outs of the feed types, do's and don'ts. I have my first chicks, for about a week now, they are about 4 weeks old, one Buff Orpington, and two barred Plymouth rocks.
They are being kept outside in a nice sized brood house, ventilation is great, and temps range low 70's at night to high 90's F during the day. They have been on chick starter, just curious how long they should remain on starter? when grit gets introduced?what's the next step after starter? suggested treats and frequency? I've been sprinkling a few dried mealworms for each once per day, is this ok or too soon?
My chicks and I thank you in advance for any help
Welcome to BYC!
There are a couple of options you have on feeding your birds.
1 -You can feed starter for the first 8(ish) weeks and then switch to a grower ration which you would feed to 18 weeks and/or the first egg - at that point changing to layer feed.
2- feed starter - switch to grower and put out free choice oyster shell for birds to take as they begin to lay
3- feed grower feed from day one to the last day of a bird being in your flock - offering free choice oyster shell so that birds that are laying can take what they need/want
Grit can be introduced at any time and there is information out there about the advantages of grit being offered even when not "needed" -- it is "needed" any time birds will be given food other than poultry feed. Starter, grower and layer rations are all designed to be water soluble, so they are digested without needing grit (this is an advantage for commercial producers as it simplifies what they must provide the birds) -- food items that are not water soluble are digested through grinding which requires grit. IF your chicks have access to an environment where they can pick up natural grit items from the ground it's likely they are already doing so - if they are housed entirely indoors and/or the ground they have access to is not going to have much natural grit you'll need to provide it. Given how cheap the stuff is I provide it at all times - it's a small investment to me for the peace of mind of knowing they have access to it if/when they are not able to get it from outside.
Since you are feeding treats (dried mealworms are not something I would worry too much about in this) you may as well go ahead and start introducing some grit. The mealworms are going to be fairly easily digested, but you'll find yourself wanting to give other treats so may as well get them going now.