Crumbles really doesn’t tell us much about the feed. Crumbles is a form of the feed and doesn’t have anything to do with nutrition.
When they make chicken feed, they collect all the ingredients they want for that formula and grind it to a powder. That’s called mash. To make pellets they wet it into a paste, extrude it through a dye and flash dry it. When they rake those off, you have pellets. To make crumbles they partially crush pellets. The main reason they do this is that different automatic feeder systems handle different forms of the feed better. Baby chicks can’t handle the pellets that well either so they usually get mash or crumbles.
What you need to do is to look at the tag on the bag for the analysis. You are looking for two things. First is the percent calcium. For growing chicks it should be around 1%, anywhere form 0.5% to 1.5% is typical. If it is around 4% it is for laying hens and has too much calcium for growing chicks. Since it is chick crumbles I think you are pretty safe there.
The other important thing to look at is the percent protein, probably the very first thing on that list. This is nowhere nearly as important as the percent calcium but it’s really the only significant difference in any of the feeds. Different feeds have different uses. In general you want to start off with a higher protein to get them a good start in life, cut back a little because they really don’t need a higher protein during adolescence, then feed them a Layer when they start to lay. Some of the feeds you might see are:
Starter – Maybe 20% to 24% protein.
Grower – Maybe 16% to 18% protein.
Developer/Finisher – Maybe 15% protein
Flock Raiser – Maybe 20% protein
Combined Starter/Grower – Maybe 20% protein
Layer – Maybe 16% to 18% protein but with high calcium content.
Different brands call these different things, like Flock Raiser might be caller All-Flock. It doesn’t matter, just look at the tag.
A normal progression is to feed Starter from hatch until 4 to 8 weeks, then switch to Grower until they start to lay. When you switch isn’t important, just whenever that bag runs out. If that is 12 weeks or even later, it’s not a problem.
Some people feed a 20% Starter/Grower or Flock Raiser from hatch until they start to lay. Some people use a 15% developer/finisher from about 12 weeks until they start to lay. You can start them off on a 16% Grower from Day 1. They’ll do fine, just won’t grow quite as fast. Some people never feed Layer, just feed Grower or Flock Raiser forever and offer oyster shell on the side so they laying hens can get the calcium they need for their egg shells. There is a lot of personal preference involved, but the only real rule is to not feed Layer with the extra calcium to a growing chick.
Where are my manners? Welcome to the forum!
Edited by Ridgerunner - 2/25/14 at 9:29am