What happens if you don't give baby chicks starter food?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ManuelsChickens, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. ManuelsChickens

    ManuelsChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Back then when my dad had chickens and the hens had chicks he said he'd just give them corn and they were fine. Then why do we give chick starter food? Does it affect their size or health?
     
  2. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Starter feed has the correct nutrients to help the chicks develop properly. Birds will survive on corn alone but they will not be in the best of health, especially in winter time when there are no bugs or grass to eat. I suggest chick starter, then at the point of lay start them on laying rations.
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Corn alone is far too low in protein, lack minerals, vitamins and essential elements for a chick to grow properly. Folks can do whatever they want with their birds, but my birds? They are extremely important to me. I want them to grow strong, healthy and reach their full potential. They aren't an after-thought that I ignore or just toss "whatever". To each his own.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Actually Dad raised chicks from the feed store on nothing but corn meal until they were about 3 weeks old. Then he just turned them loose and let them find their own food and make their own way with the flock. They were totally free range and he really did not have any problems doing that. It was usually late spring so the weather was pretty nice.

    There is no doubt they do better if they have a balanced diet. They will grow faster and be stronger, feather out better, and better reach their potential. I certainly do not advocate feeding them nothing but corn meal, but they can survive and grow on it.

    Why do we feed starter? Because it is better for them, just like a balanced diet is better for you and your kids. Think of it as the difference in kids living off junk food or real food. They can survive and grow, just not as well.
     
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  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Today's birds are also expected to start laying at 18 weeks and lay 6 eggs a week for a year straight, minimum. The high production breeding requires better nutritional support to meet those demands. My Ozark Grandma also raised birds on corn and scraps, but none of her birds layed as consistently as mine do. And her roosters weren't as large. Back then, a 3lb carcass was pretty common. Folks today would be very unhappy with that!
     
  6. ManuelsChickens

    ManuelsChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh okay. How long are you supposed to give them starter feed? And what do you give them after they eating starter feed?
     
  7. ManuelsChickens

    ManuelsChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What do you give them after they stop eating starter feed? *
     
  8. K1llSw1tch

    K1llSw1tch Out Of The Brooder

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    just because there cheap doesn't mean you don't have to give them the best :)
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The “normal” routine is to give them Starter feed from hatch until they are 4 to 8 weeks old. It doesn’t matter if it is 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or even longer. Whenever that bag of Starter runs out, switch to Grower. Feed Grower until they start to lay, then switch to Layer. You can switch to Layer at 20 weeks if you wish. Some people use a lower percent protein feed called Developer from about 13 weeks until they switch to Layer. This is the perfect feeding system used by commercial operators to help hens that will be Layers reach their maximum potential as layers.

    Starter has a higher percent protein to help get them off to a fast start. Grower has a lower percent protein to let their body, skeleton, and internal organs to mature together. Layer has the same percent Protein as Grower but it has extra calcium for the egg shells.

    There are a lot of other feeds available. Some people feed a combined Starter/Grower from hatch until they switch to Layer. Some never switch to Layer but provide oyster shell on the side to provide extra calcium. Some use Flock Raiser instead of some of the others.

    The only real rule is that you should not feed Layer to growing chicks. There are plenty of studies that show the extra calcium can harm their internal organs.
     
  10. mdbtalon

    mdbtalon Out Of The Brooder

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    Like everyone has said "starter" food is optimized for their ideal nutrition. I have had people argue and say their chickens do just fine with only scratch grains and they give them them that their whole lives. I always compare it to humans though. A human can survive eating fast food and drinking soda all day. If that same person eats a healthy balanced diet though they are going to be much healthier.
     

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