feeding for chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sarahz, May 1, 2007.

  1. sarahz

    sarahz New Egg

    3
    0
    7
    May 1, 2007
    Hi everyone! I am a newbie here on BYC and have some questions. We just got our first chicken about 4 weeks ago and wondering:
    1. When do we start feeding them adult feed?
    2. What else can we feed them other than store bought feed? Starting when?
    3. We go organic as much as we can around here and want to do the same with our chickens. But I've heard that the non-organic feed is 'almost' organic but double the money. Does anyone have any true knowlegde of this? I am more than willing to buy organic feed but if it really is not a HUGE dfference from the non-organic it would be nice to save some $ on the feed. Also, our vege-garden will be going in soon (I know, a bit late)--all organic too--so maybe there is a supplement food source?
     
  2. Sherry

    Sherry Chillin' With My Peeps

    628
    0
    169
    Apr 8, 2007
    Southern WV
    I feed my chicks Purina Start and Grow. I don't know a thing about organic feeds.

    I am planning on switching mine to adult feed at 18 weeks. That's what it says on the feed bag.
     
  3. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    974
    3
    171
    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    I'm not an expert, but I can try to answer at least some of your questions. [​IMG]

    1. First, what type of chicks are you raising? Meat birds? Layers?

    If you are raising layers, they will need to stay on a chick starter, or starter/grower until around 18 weeks, or the first one lays an egg. Then you switch them to a layer feed. The calcium in layer feed is far too high for a chicks system to handle.

    If they are Meat birds, then you should feed them a Meat Maker, or meat bird starter/grower until they are around 6 weeks old. Then you can either go the organic corn-fed way (which is what I plan to do) and feed them straight corn or scratch for the remaining 2-4 weeks until butcher.

    2. Not sure if you meant treats, or that you want to mix your own feed, so I'll answer both.

    Treats are just that, treats. They should be fed only in moderation, and whenever feeding the chicks anything other than their starter feed, you must also supply grit (playing sand works well for this, or some feed stores sell Chick Grit) so they can digest the treats.

    If you meant mixing your own feed, as opposed to buying it at the store, I can help you there too because thats what I do! I am trying to raise them as Organically as possible as well, so I'll anser both of these below. We began changing their diet to one we mixed ourselves when they were roughly 6 weeks old.

    3. Organic is the way to go, IMO, if you can. Keeping in mind that the innitial start up will be a bit more costly than buying a couple bags of normal chick starter/grower. I chose NOT to buy the bags of premixed, so-called "organic" feed mixes they have out there, as I wanted to be sure exactly what was in my chickens feed and mix it myself. You may chose to order from a company, or with a little effort and research, you can order your own ingredients and mix it yourself, as I have done.

    We have our 8 week chicks on a mix that is 50/30/20 (or 50% chick starter/30% oats and grains/20% corn, and other supplements.

    Here is our list of ingredients in our current feed:

    starter crumble, alfalpha, wheat, peas, barley, oats, calcium, corn, coconut pulp, flax seed, linseeds, peanut and sesame meals, and natural vitamins.

    I had to buy most of these in 25 or 50 lb bags, which made the upfront costs seem high. However, now that it is mixed I see the benefits in the chicks, and they out weigh the costs. Not to mention, I have enough feed to last me a LONG time!

    I liked mixing my own because I knew exactly what I was putting in it and for what purpose. For example, the coconut pulp is high in fiber and protein. The Flax seed will increase the Omega 3's in their eggs (once they are laying). The oats help them to fill up and not grow quite so quickly, so they dont start laying before they are ready.

    I also have a friend who does not eat meat, or anything that is raised on meat or meat by-products, but she does want eggs when I have them because I do not add any animal fat or animal by product proteins to their feed.

    Finding the organic chick starter was the hardest part. Once they are 15-18 weeks, I can get rid of the starter, and feed mostly my own mix, and not need pellets or crumble at all and that will save time and money as well.

    Oh, one last note, to go organic, you must stay away from chemicals, pesticidesm and medicated feeds as well. All of these will pass residues on to the eggs (once they are laying) and people buying Organic, wont buy them.
     
  4. Jsto

    Jsto Chillin' With My Peeps

    348
    3
    151
    Apr 30, 2007
    North Carolina
    Quote:How much would say it is to mix your own? It would only be for 5 birds. I'm a vegetarian and with everything I make/eat, I prefer to know all that has gone into it, especially since meat by-products are a no-no for me and seem to be hidden everywhere (I actually carelessly picked up a can of veggie soup the other day when I was in a hurry and needed a bit of lunch, only to find out it was made with meat stock...after I had already eaten the stuff). I was planning on buying organic food, but like you say, the cost is a bit much and you still aren't 100% sure what all goes into it. Mixing my own sounds not only beneficial but a nice way to truly know what your chickens are getting. Any more info on this would be greatly appreciated!
     
  5. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    974
    3
    171
    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    you might do better then to find someone close to you that also plans to mix their own, so you can share the initial costs since you are feeding only 5 chickens. It cost me roughly $100 to start with, but I ended up with a good 250 lbs of feed! That averages to just $0.40/lb! You cant find true Organic feed for that price anywhere, that I know of. Even the premixed so-called organic feeds run $45 per 50 lbs which is more like $0.90/lb.

    I was upset at first that the start up cost was so high, but I'm happy with the amount of feed I have ended up with, and I enjoy knowing exactly what they are eating.

    Oh, make sure you have your chicks on an Organic starter if you are vegetarian if you plan to eat them or their eggs! Commercial chick starter contains animal fats and protein fillers from beef and pork. I recently found this out myself, and though I am not vedgy, I know people that are.
     
  6. Jsto

    Jsto Chillin' With My Peeps

    348
    3
    151
    Apr 30, 2007
    North Carolina
    Thanks for the info. It really seems like something I want to do. I did just find out yesterday (after buying 50 lbs of unmedicated starter feed, they didn't have 'organic') that it contains the protein fillers, which is not something I want since I will be eating the eggs. So, I will be running back out for the organic stuff sometime later this week, before my chicks arrive.

    As for the initial cost, that's a bit scary for me at the moment since I've just bought chicks and will be buying supplies and materials to build the coop this weekend (hopefully I'll be able to use a bit of recyled material--fingers crossed I have good luck). You start them on the mix once they've started laying, right? I'm going to research a bit more and if I can't find someone to share the cost/feed with me, I will see what I can do on a bit of a smaller scale. Again, thank you for answering! I know I'm just full of newbie questions, but I really appreciate the help. It's helping me not panic [​IMG]
     
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Personally I think that chickens need animal proteins as they are ominivores. I think a problem with alot of commerical feeds is that they are just using soy as their protein source. As long as they get some time free ranging though, they should be able to get some of that from bugs they can find. Just my thoughts.
     
  8. Jsto

    Jsto Chillin' With My Peeps

    348
    3
    151
    Apr 30, 2007
    North Carolina
    Quote:I know they do and my father, who has experience with chicken, keeps reminding me of this. I'm trying to find a happy medium. They obviously won't be getting meat scraps, since I don't cook meat here, but will be free-ranging most of the time. As a person who is a veggie eater and must suppliment herself so she doesn't get sick from lack of protein, I'm just trying to figure it all out for the chickens as I had to do for myself. I also know it's not fair for them to suffer just because I made a personal choice not to eat meat. Oy! My head is running in circles! I want my chickens to be happy, healthy, and as organic as possible without effecting the first two. Thank you for your thoughts [​IMG]
     
  9. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    974
    3
    171
    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    From what I've researched, coconut pulp is just as high in protein as the animal fats they use for fillers are. So, technically, chickens dont really need to eat animal proteins. Yes, they are omnivores, but that really only aplies to the amount of protein they need. If you find another source that is as good, or better, it will do them better in the long run not to be fed the animal protein which is nothin more than a filler anyway, leaving them still hungry and looking for more food. They will get whatever additional proteins they need from mice, worms, bugs, grubs etc when they are ranging. Also, I would rather cook and feed real meat to my chickens, than trust whats in the bag (since I know what "rendering" is and just what parts of what animals they use.).

    Please keep in mind that commercial diets are the NEW thing, not the way its always been done. When my grandfather raised his flock, they ate corn, grains, and kitchen scraps, as many 'old timer' flocks I know. There were no bags of pellets to pour in a dish for them.

    Just as wild dogs dont get dishes of kibble, the dog in my home doesnt either. I chose to take him off commercial foods when he developed arthritus and allergies. I realized then that the main ingredient in all dog food is corn. A dog can not digest corn, the are carnivores and need to eat meat. I changed my dogs diet. He is on the BARF (yes funny name) diet which is Bones And Raw Food. He gets meaty bones, eggs, rice, pasta, some vedgetables, and special supplements, flax seed, fish oil, etc. All organic, raw, and natural the way I feel he should be eating. Not all people can, or are willing to, feed their animals this way. It takes alot of research to make sure you are feeding them all the nutrients they need. I am choosing to feed our chickens the same way.

    Yes, it costs a little more to do, but I feel better knowing exactly what is in their dish, and all of it is something I myself would eat. Would you eat your dogs kibble?

    Jsto, I am feeding my chicks their organic mix now. Only I am ommiting the extra calcium and flax seed until they begin to lay. Also, they still have crumbled chick starter (organic) in their mix. They are actually 9 weeks old today (I was still callin them 8 weekers! lol)
     
  10. iopele

    iopele Chillin' With My Peeps

    244
    3
    141
    Apr 13, 2007
    Texas
    (slightly OT) but just wanted to chime in that I started feeding my year-old German Shepherd a raw diet about 2 weeks ago, due to all the recalls. (You know what's causing the pet deaths? MELAMINE--same stuff that makes those super-hard plastic plates--and RAT POISON! Added deliberately to increase the protein content readings when that gluten was tested! To say I'm outraged is a huge understatement. :thun) I love her so much it would crush me if she got poisoned from her food! So I did a lot of research and now I buy her meat, cut it up fresh every night, (she doesn't get the bones because unfortunately I can't afford organic meat for her and bones concentrate toxins and antibiotic residue), mix in supplements like Vit C, calcium, and fish oil, and vary the veggies I put in it (at least 3 veg per meal), and add a vegan probiotic on top of it since I learned that the preservatives in dog food kill off their natural intestinal flora. And after 2 weeks, my GOSH! Her coat is so soft and shiny, she's bounding with energy [​IMG], and to say she loves her dinners doesn't begin to describe it. I didn't expect to see such a huge difference because she was on the $50/bag corn-free Innova food! [​IMG]


    (My dog, spoiled? :eek: Surely you jest! [​IMG])

    To bring it back to chickens ([​IMG]), we use ground eggshells for the calcium supplementation. Mostly I make sure she eats eggs 3 times per week (we've got about 70 chickens right now and get around 18-25 eggs daily, so it's no problem to give the dog 2 1/2 dozen eggs per week [​IMG]). If you're going to feed your dog eggs, though, you've got to slightly cook them to break down the avidin protein in them that will otherwise bind up the B vitamins in the dog's system and can lead to bad health problems. How? Bring water to a rolling boil, remove from heat, and put the eggs in for 5 minutes. Then either break them into the bowl or, if you're like me and want your dog to have the calcium-rich shells, drop 'em in the blender with the veggies and grind it all up! It's a lovely half-raw egg soup and Simi adores it. 1 egg per 10# of dog weight is the rule I read. I only do this with the eggs from my flock and wouldn't dare with bought eggs--I know these eggs are safe and came from free-range hens who are happy, healthy and salmonella-free. See, even our pets benefit from having chickens! [​IMG]

    I wish I could feed my chickens organic and mix their feed, too! Having seen the benefits in my dog, I can't imagine how good the eggs I'd get from my girls would be. (Although they're already the yummiest eggs I've ever had!) Unfortunately it's just not practical for us at this time, but maybe someday. At least right now we're able to keep any growth hormones and antibiotics out of their feed!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by