Got my chicks!

Joann1968

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
7
6
42
Hi, I just got my chickens and just wonder if I should keep chick starter in front of them all the time or feed at set times. They are eating A LOT, maybe that is normal. How old do they have to be before I start feeding scratch grains or can I start that now. One weird thing is I ordered four hens, there were five in the carrier when I opened it. Wonder if they put a rooster in there?
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,040
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
Hi, I just got my chickens and just wonder if I should keep chick starter in front of them all the time or feed at set times. They are eating A LOT, maybe that is normal. How old do they have to be before I start feeding scratch grains or can I start that now. One weird thing is I ordered four hens, there were five in the carrier when I opened it. Wonder if they put a rooster in there?

Welcome to BYC!
It sounds like you ordered day old chicks, is that true? Extra birds is not uncommon in orders - some hatcheries offer an extra free chick in all orders and you actually have to opt out not to receive it, while others will include extra birds to provide warmth, etc. in small orders. Generally, yes, the extra birds turn out to be male, but it is not always the case.
Are your chicks actually eating the feed or are they wasting a good portion of it by billing (with their beak/head) or kicking it out of the feeder? An incredible amount of feed can be lost to waste because of the way the birds will move it out of the feeder and down into the bedding.
Are you raising laying birds or meat birds? This will play into the best feeding routine for your birds.
Scratch is made of of harder stuff than is the starter - starter is water soluble and can be digested without the aid of grit in the gizzard. If you are going to add anything to their diet that is not water soluble ration you need to be sure to provide them a source of grit so they can properly digest the food. There is no *need* to offer anything other than the starter ration - it is the most nutritionally balanced food you can offer them at this point--scratch is not really much of a nutritional benefit to them (in fact, it's more of a deficit).
I free feed all of my birds - from hatchlings to adults - meaning the feed is out 24/7 and they can eat, at will, during the hours they are not at roost.
 

Joann1968

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
7
6
42
Yes, my chicks are day old. They are definitely eating and drinking, active and pecking around but they take quick naps every so often. One of them is much bigger than the others and seems to herd them, I think that is the male. They are layers. Heritage Line RIRS to be exact.
 

Husker Hens

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 24, 2014
122
11
61
Nebraska (Panhandle)
My Coop
My Coop
Definitely free feed! All they'll pretty much do at first is eat, sleep, drink, and poop. They do eat a lot, but they also waste A LOT. Try to find/make a feeder that let's them eat without getting their feet up to it and you'll save a lot of waste, but they can also waste a lot with their beak/head so if there's a lip around the hole they eat through it'll keep some of that from being thrown out. Food in the shaving's is not necessarily wasted as they will scratch around and eat some of it, but the less in the shavings, the less wasted. The herder could be a roo, it could also just be your lead hen. Too early to tell at this point.
 

Joann1968

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
7
6
42
Thanks! Been free feeding like you have suggested and they have grown already. They are sprouting wing and tail feathers and are quite a bit bigger than a few days ago.
 

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