Food specifically for heritage breeds?


8 Years
Jan 27, 2011
Vancouver Island
I just got five chicks, and while at the feed store she said they're getting a feed in this week that is a grower/starter specifically for heritage breed chicks. It's 25% protein and she said it's higher in protein since heritage breeds tend to grow slower. It's non-GMO and organic, and cheaper than their other organic feed they carry (which is 19 or 20% protein, I can't remember exactly), because it's milled locally. It's actually not much more per bag than the non-organic stuff (I assume because it's local), and since I don't expect to need more than one or two bags total I don't mind paying a little extra.

Is this just a gimmick? I used to work in a pet store and know that a lot of cat and dog foods have these gimmicky "special" foods too. I'm also of the thinking that if heritage breeds grow slower they're probably supposed to and don't want to artificially up their protein just to grow them faster and possibly have problems down the road. Would I be better off sticking to a lower protein feed?
If the birds grow slower, then wouldn't they need a lower percentage of protein in the feed?

Any bird eating that much protein will grow really fast I would have thought.

I only increase the protein intake when I have sick birds or bird re-growing feathers
Yeah, I think the idea was to help them grow faster. But it doesn't seem like that would necessarily be a good idea. I'm tempted more because of the price for an organic feed, and it's supporting local farmers. But I don't want to do it to the detriment of the chicks either.
What are these chicks for, laying or meat?

If they are to be a laying flock, they do not need that high a protein content feed. They need fairly high protein feed the first six weeks or so while they are getting started and feathering out, but after six weeks you are right. They need to grow slower so maturity and growth match.

If they are to be used for meat, yes, they can use higher protein to grow faster. They should be processed before medical problems show up.

There is a fairly wide range of what works. And it is not a percent of protein in the feed that is the critical thing, it is how much total protein they eat in a day. If you feed a lot of low protein treats, then the percent protein should be higher in the feed to get total protein up.

I'd say trust your instincts on this one and consider that a gimmick. Your instincts seem pretty solid.
Thank you! That all makes sense. They are for laying, though we'll likely eat any roosters. I have been feeding them some greens (and grit), but so far no where near even 10%. I just want them to get used to eating greens and foraging as they'll be technically free-range once they're outside. I'll stick with the regular feed or pay the extra for the organic if I decide to go that route.
There is one heritage breed organization (ALBC???) don't remember which one, that states on their website that Heritage breed chicks should be given 22% or more and I think they recommend higher % for layers also. I would guess it's because most feed is the bare minimum required, like Purina Start & Grow at 18%. Search the web & you will see recommendations for higher protein for true heritage breed chickens.
Hmmm, looks like you're right:

to do even more research.
The fact that you got your chicks from the feedstore is telling me you don't have truly "heritage" birds, but instead average laying hens. I'd say feed them what you feel like. Most people just feed the average layer pellets.

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