Feed 101?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ALDavis, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. ALDavis

    ALDavis Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 27, 2015
    Help! I feel like such a dweeb here but here goes. So there's medicated and unmediated chick starter, grit, crumble, laying pellets, scratch.. what else? I have 3 laying hens and rooster. I suspect that my hens are starting to mol. What do I need to get them to get them through it faster? They've been getting crumble with some scratch and grit I mix it. Am I giving them the right nutrition? They get kitchen treats randomly.
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Spring Dreaming Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    You can switch them to a non medicated grower to help with the molt, I wouldn't be mixing in grit but offering it in a separate bowl, you should also offer oyster shells free choice as well for calcium.

    You can feed them layer, grower or an all flock ration, with a bit of scratch and whatever scraps you want, I don't restrict the ration, mine get all they wish.

    I feed mine both an all flock which has higher protein and I offer them a layer as well, mine get scratch, and scraps and free range.
  3. barneveldrerman

    barneveldrerman Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree feed them a non medicated grower feed and let them go through the process naturally.
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Your thread title sounds like you want a quick 101.
    There is a tag on every bag with a guaranteed analysis, list of ingredients and usually feeding instructions.
    Nutritionally, there are 2 things on the guaranteed analysis tag that one must always look at - protein % and calcium %. Calcium is pretty simple.
    Birds actively laying eggs should have about 4% calcium. Birds not laying eggs (growing birds, roosters, molters, etc.) shouldn't get that much.
    All feeds other than 'layer' have about 1% calcium which is sufficient if not building egg shells.
    With protein, chicks need more protein and that can be cut back as they mature. Roosters don't need much. Hens need a bit more because they're putting out a 6 gram lump of protein each day.

    In types of feed there are things called starter, grower (or a combination like purina start & grow) finisher, all flock, layer
    There are exceptions but in general, Starter is usually from 18% - 22% protein and for birds from hatch to about 7 or so weeks of age. Grower is usually 18% and for feeding until onset of lay.
    Finisher is about 15% and is for the last couple weeks of a broiler's life and can be fed to roosters and pullets prior to onset of lay.
    All flock can be from 18-20%.

    They all can come in the form of mash, crumbles or pellets. Mash is usually just ground and mixed. Pellets are ground, mixed with a binding agent added and run through a pelletizer. Crumbles are pellets after being run through the crumbler.
    Basically there is no difference nutritionally regardless of the form.
    To make things simple, you can just feed a starter/grower till onset of lay and then if all the birds are laying, switch to layer. If a mixed flock, feed a grower or all flock feed and make sure there is always oyster shell available in a separate container.

    Oyster shell is 95% calcium carbonate. Egg shells are calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate and calcium aren't exactly the same thing. Calcium carbonate is 40% calcium. Any source of calcium carbonate is broken down into calcium ions and carbon ions in the digestive tract, enter the bloodstream and are reformulated into calcium carbonate in the egg shell gland.
    2.5 grams of elemental calcium is needed to make an egg shell. Only half of the calcium in the diet is retained so 4-4.5 grams are needed in the daily diet to retain the 2.5 grams needed for the egg.

    Oyster shell and grit are not the same thing. Grit is insoluble stones like flint or granite. Oyster shell is soluble and by the time it gets to the gizzard it is pretty mushy.

    Grit is essential in the diet so it can lodge in the gizzard to aid in grinding food. Basically, grit serves as a bird's teeth.
    Birds that forage a large area with adequately sized stones can get sufficient grit from the ground.
    Some say that if one only feeds a commercial chicken feed that grit isn't essential since the ingredients are already ground. Essentially, that's true but most people feed other things and grit in growing birds helps to develop the gizzard.
    It has to be the correct size (3 sizes for chickens). If it is too small, it will pass right through the gizzard and not be of much assistance. So if buying grit, #1 chick grit is for birds up to 3 weeks of age, #2 is for up to 7 weeks and #3 adult grit is for over 7 weeks of age.
    2 people like this.
  5. MonicainAZ

    MonicainAZ Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 21, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm also a newbie, but you mention above that you are mixing the scratch and grit with their food, is that right?

    The idea behind scratch is as much as anything to give them something to do, the idea is to put it on the ground or the floor and let them have fun scratching and pecking through it. Kinda the same way a dog chews on a bone, it's as much for the activity as whatever actual nutrition they are getting.

    For grit many people advise having a separate container for it so that the chicken can just eat as much or as little as they need at that particular time, rather than mixing it in with their feed in a set amount.
  6. ALDavis

    ALDavis Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 27, 2015
    Thank you so much ChickeCanoe! That's what I was looking for, a clear concise feed 101. I never realized there were so many options and forms. My hens are all laying age and I have a rooster. They currently have crumble 14%, oyster shell and grit though I'm unsure on the grit number, it is pretty small though. I plan on switching them to a layer pellet, the right size grit as I'm sure my current is too small and allowing them to freely have oyster shell. Is that right? They do free range some but it's currently not a large amount of time.
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Good point. I missed that.
    One shouldn't mix anything with feed (unless you are fermenting it and adding things like kelp, probiotics, flax, etc..)
    I usually have 2 small pint size cage cups in each building/run one with oyster shell and one with grit.
    Sometimes I just put a pile of grit on the ground.
    It's cheap and goes a long way.

    Most feed outlets don't carry that many options, they are just what is manufactured and stores may or may not carry them.
    Finisher is pretty hard to find. Some stores only carry unmedicated starter, some only carry medicated.
    Some limit what they carry forcing customers to buy what they have on hand so they can buy in larger quantities lowering their cost.

    This link gives info on the sizes of grit. Yours are ready for adult grit.
  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    "Medicated" chicken feed has NO MEDICINE in it what-so-ever. You can feed "feather fixer feed" or a mix of "starter grower" feed. You can also improve the protein content of your hen food by supplementing with a good variety of dry dog or cat food. Canned dog food or fish or meat by products is also good if you can get it.
  9. jk47

    jk47 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2013
    With medicated feed most only have amproilm in it but there is some that have antibiotics in it so be sure to read the feed tags before feeding . For molt I suggest a flock raiser or somthing that has a higher proteiprotein then layer
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Amprolium is by definition a medication.

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