Feeding at Different Ages

By Mountain Peeps · May 23, 2014 · Updated Sep 24, 2015 · ·
  1. Mountain Peeps
    Many first time chicken raisers get confused as to what their chickens need to eat at their various stages of growth. I remember being absolutely baffled as to what I was feeding my chicks. Questions kept racing through my mind like "Are they growing correctly?" "What if this isn't the right feed." "Will it harm or possibly kill them?!" But, after doing lots of research and learning from my own experiences, I have discovered what is just right to feed at different ages. (Please know that I didn't come up with all this on my own! This is a summary of all the things I have learned over the past four years. Also note that I have never raised chickens for meat and have no desire to raise them for meat, so this is not an article about feeding meat chickens.)

    Chickens require different formulated feeds of a different protein type at different stages in their life. These foods all have specific times to be fed. If they are fed at the wrong times, they can cause major issues. For example: If a chick ate a hen's layer feed, it would not only damage her kidneys, it would weaken her inner organs as she grows and possibly cause her to never lay or lay off-chart eggs.
    Commercially prepared chicken feed will insure that your chickens get all the nutrients and vitamins they need. So, be sure to limit treats as these will weaken a chicken's daily nutrient requirements. Remember, treats are treats and shouldn't take up more than 10% of a chicken's daily diet.

    Below is a helpful chicken feed guideline that will insure that your birds get the nutritional requirements they need so they can lay or fertilize eggs and be healthy for years to come.

    Feed-18-20% (protein) Starter chick feed.
    Water-Avilable at all times with unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar added to it. (One teaspoon per quart.)
    Treats-Chicks this age don't usually eat anything but their feed. However, you can try giving them scrambled eggs, (no salt) oatmeal and fresh herbs.

    Feed-18% (protein) Grower feed. Note: If you fed an 18% starter feed then the chicks do not need to be switched to the grower. However, if they had a 20% starter feed, they do need to be switched to the 18% grower feed.
    Water-Avilable at all times with unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar added to it. (One teaspoon per quart.)
    Treats-Add new things such as grass, melon, corn, peas, rice, bread, etc.

    Feed-16% (protein) layer feed.
    Water-Avilable at all times with unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar added to it. (One teaspoon per quart.) You can also put garlic in as well.
    Treats-Anything healthy and good for them. (Remember, treats should only take up 10% of the chickens' daily diet.)
    Calcium-Oyster shells or crushed, rinsed eggshells available at all times in a separate dish from the layer feed.

    Hope this helps you feel more knowledgeable about what to feed your flock at the different ages in their life. (Note: If introducing adolescent chickens to a flock of adult chickens, switch them all the the chick feed and not the layer feed until the chicks reach 18 weeks. Also, a broody hen should just eat the chick feed with her babies.)

    Thanks for reading!

    Share This Article

    Lin & Hailey and Silkie mama1 like this.


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. MsRiderUp
    Thanks. My brain slipped, and I put the layer feed in a blender and fed it to my chicks and teenagers for a couple of days. Somehow I forgot that the layer feed had calcium in it, and isn't good for the younger ones. Just thought I'd let everyone eat the layer feed! I can't believe that I did that. Am heading out to get the 18-20% without calcium. Hope I haven't inadvertently damaged my chickies . . .
  2. Mountain Peeps
    Mbcaring, in times like this, you should feed them all the grower feed.
  3. mbcaring
    How do you suggest to solve freerange getting into each other's food at diffrent ages.
  4. Mountain Peeps
  5. anngautier
    Roosters will be ok at 16%?
  6. 11squawkers
    Yes, thank you for the great info. Exactly what I needed to know. Now if I could just find the same info for guineas I would be set.
  7. mumofsix
    Thanks for the information
  8. MyPetNugget
    Good Job! ^-^
  9. Mountain Peeps
  10. Basskids08
    Thank you Mountain Peeps! A really great article on feeding and you explained everything very clear. That will help all the newbies and the more experienced as well!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: