new to this.. Trying to figure out what to feed them

clanton03

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 20, 2013
4
0
9
Northwest Washington
Hello everyone,

So we are going to be getting chick soon and I'm trying to figure what to feed them. I'm going to start them with start and grow medicated feed. But once they are older I'm not sure about organic layer pellets or mash. I would love some feed back.. thank you!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,231
19,964
857
Southeast Louisiana
I’m not going to get into the organic thing. Some people get pretty passionate about that. Instead I’ll give some more general information that hopefully will fit all situations.

First, don’t feed growing chicks Layer feed. Layer has excess calcium in it for the hens that are laying eggs to use for the egg shells. The excess calcium can severely damage the internal organs in growing chicks.

If you look at the label on the bag of feed, you can see the analysis. The first thing on that list is generally percent protein. A bit further down is percent calcium. Layer will have around 3-1/2% to 4-1/2% calcium. All the others should be somewhere around 1% calcium.

The only significant difference in all the others is pretty much percent protein. I’ll list a few but realize some brand may have different names for these and the actual percent protein can vary by 2 or 3 %.

Starter – 22% to 24%
Grower – around 16%
Layer – 16% to 18% (Plus excess calcium)
Combined Starter/Grower – around 20%
Developer or Finisher – around 15%
Flock Raiser – around 20%

They all have specific recommendations but we interchange them a lot. My general progression is to feed a fairly high protein feed the first 4 to 8 weeks to get then off to a good start and feathered out pretty fast. Whenever that bag runs out in that 4 to 8 weeks I switch to a lower protein feed to get their body growth more in line with skeleton development and maturity rate of internal organs. Keep feeding this until they start to lay. Mine usually don’t even get Layer then. I usually have mixed age chickens in the flock so I just keep feeding the Grower or whatever and offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that are laying eat the oyster shell for the excess calcium they need and the ones that don’t need it don’t eat enough to hurt themselves.

Other people feed flock raiser or the combined starter/grower from Day 1 until they switch to Layer. Some never switch to Layer but feed one of the others with a calcium supplement on the side, usually oyster shell. As long as you don’t feed Layer there is no real right way or wrong way. Practically anything works.

Don’t let mash, crumbles and pellets get you confused. Nutritionally there is no difference. Just look at the label for the analysis. The way they make Mash is to finely grind up everything that’s mixed in the feed. To make pellets they add water to mash, extrude that resulting paste through small holes, and dry it. That breaks off into those pellets. To make crumble, they partially crush the pellets. So they are all the same stuff, just in a different form. Why do they make them in these different forms? Different commercial operations use different equipment to automatically feed their chickens. Some machinery handles mash better than pellets. Some machinery handles pellets or crumbles better. Those different forms of feed are there for the mechanical delivery system they use. Don’t go by form. Read the tag to see the analysis so you know what is in it.

Hopefully that will help you understand chicken feed a little bit better. Good luck!
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
33,176
65,556
1,392
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
Personally I think the crumbles are great for the babies, and when I switch to grower or layer I always go to pellets, I think the pellets don't get kicked out of the feeders as easily so less is wasted. BUT, at is just a shape preference, just like ridge runner said. The point is remember everything ridge runner said. :D
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,231
19,964
857
Southeast Louisiana
I don't feed mash myself but I've seen where several people get it wet to form sort of a paste and report that the waste goes down. Just like any of these forms (mash, crumbles, or pellets) how you feed it and what your feeders look like will help determine how much waste there is.
 

schimbare

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 29, 2013
38
4
26
Wow! Thanks so much! You answered all my questions and I did not even have to ask! What a great tutorial on feed. I really appreciate it.

Schimbare
 

siobhan118

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 20, 2013
57
1
43
Billerica, MA
What about grit? I keep reading about grit on here and I'm getting confused on when and if I need to introduce it. My chicks when older will be in a run with sometime allowed eventually to free range. Does that make a difference on grit?
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
33,176
65,556
1,392
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
Yes, how your chickens are kept makes a difference on if they need to be fed grit.

If they are ever outside, even in just a dirt pen, then i don't think that you need to feed them grit. I think that some of the people on here feed it anyway, but I don't think that you need to.

When I was growing up my grandmother raised chickens, and she never gave them grit, but they had a large pen, and they got to free range in the afternoons. I have had chickens for I think five years now, and I haven't fed grit, but mine have a good sized run.
 

MANNA-PRO

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