Feed for newly hatched chicks

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by MattSC, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. MattSC

    MattSC Hatching

    Dec 1, 2016
    South Carolina
    If this has already been covered, I apologize and could someone point me in the right direction if so? So here is my question. What is recommended to feed newly hatched chicks? I was planning on going to TSC to ask and get what they recommend, but after reading another post on here I'm not sure that's a good idea.
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    A starter feed that has a higher protein content then a grower for the first six weeks. After that a grower or all flock feed till they start laying. Then either go to a layer or stick with grower or all flock with a calcium supplement on the side.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Your choice regarding using medicated feed or non medicated. do the research and make up your mind what you will buy before you go, because the employees are told what to sell. Some folks always choose medicated feed to start chicks. Others, like myself will walk out of a store before being coerced into buying medicated feed. It all depends on your husbandry methods and philosophy. Starter is fine, or you can go with Multi-Flock starter which is a bit higher in protein, and is always not medicated.
  4. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon

    I keep it simpler for layers, which I'm assuming you have, and a flock that is one age...I use either medicated or non-medicated chick start through 18 to 20 weeks (just before or at point of lay) when you can then put them on layer feed.

    Meat birds are a bit different as are dual purpose birds as are games, which require higher protein. So is having mixed types and ages in a flock, which is why some will start with chick start then transition to grower then transition to all flock.

    So it depends on your flock age ranges and bird types. The most important thing is to not put small chicks on layer feed before almost point of lay as it can severely hurt their kidneys. Also, putting too high protein on heritage or layer types can cause leg and ligament issues (say having a turkey/game at 28% for a layer who only needs 18% to grow).

    As to medicated vs. non-medicated, I agree that it again depends on your philosophy and general area and climate.

    If you've never had chicks before, and keep a very clean brooder, chances are you can do well with non-medicated, assuming coccidia are not a big problem in the area.

    If your place has had other birds or animals, especially poultry, or you know people in the area have complained about coccidiosis with their livestock or puppies, then you may want to place all chicks on medicated.

    Medicated feed contains Amprolium which is a drug that slows the metabolism of Vitamin B. This starves the coccidian protozoa, which are present in almost all soil to some degree, so that the protozoa cannot form great colonies in your chicken's gut to create essentially chicken dysentary. Some colonies are still formed, though, as the goal of the medicated feed is to keep the numbers at bay so that the birds immune system takes over when they become older and naturally keeps the coccidian colonies low in the gut. (Good feed, clean conditions, probiotics, and raw apple cider vinegar can help with gut health).

    If you have an overgrowth of coccidia due to warm weather, poor sanitary conditions, or a natural load in the soil that "blooms," your chickens can become very sick very quickly. The more cases of coccidiosis you have on your property, the more you load the soil with oocysts (the protozoan "eggs") which are very difficult to get rid of. So once you have an outbreak, it is likely you will have another unless you intervene in some manner (usually many ways...cleaning coops and treating birds).

    For these reasons some choose to always medicate their chicks until point of lay to ever prevent a first outbreak.

    However on clean property, closed small flocks, you may totally not need it, and the Amprolium can create some vitamin B deficiency in your chicks if they don't need it or are sensitive to it.

    I've used non-medicated with my broody hatch chicks as momma desensitizes babes as they grow (presuming no large build up in soil), and I've used medicated with feed store chicks brought onto my property as they do not have any immune resistance to the coccidia strain in my soil and likely have low immunes anyway due to hatchery stress and shipping. (I've actually raised broody hatched chicks side by side with feed store chicks and had my broody hatch chicks react to the Amprolium while my feed store chicks showed symptoms of coccidiosis without it).

    Just so you know some of the why and wherefore.

    Good luck with your new babies.

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016

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