Originally Posted by oldhenlikesdogs
I find feeding them right, housing them properly, not crowding them, and keeping stress down is the best you can do to minimize problems. It best to allow you chickens to live as naturally as possible as far as allowing them to engage in behaviors that they need, letting them range and scratch, which leads to healthier and happy chickens.
You don't need all that other stuff, it might help but IMO is more for the keeper than the birds.
Well balanced chicken ration, watch the protein levels - seems to be the first thing that goes off.
I like to feed a 'flock raiser/grower/finisher' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.
The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.
Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.