What I'm confused about in feeding chickens!

redneck farmer

Songster
6 Years
Feb 1, 2013
1,916
128
141
in the swamp killin hawgs
Ok I'm confused about some things for feeding my chickens.
1 what is grit? I know my chickens need it but they have sand in there coop an I see them eating the sand an small rocks all the time.. Sence they eat that stuff do they need grit???
2 people talk about " worming" there chickens is that like feeding them worms or a shot to prevent like heart worms or something??
3 my chickens have been on chick starter fr there hole life. 18% protein. They are 13 weeks old. When should I start feeding them scratch grains an oyster shells for laying???
4 chicken are omnivores I know this. How often should I feed them meat? I have fish in my back yard I could catch, cut up, cook( or give raw) an give to them but do they need it often or use as treats???
Thanks
 

Fred's Hens

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Ok I'm confused about some things for feeding my chickens.
1 what is grit? I know my chickens need it but they have sand in there coop an I see them eating the sand an small rocks all the time.. Sence they eat that stuff do they need grit???
2 people talk about " worming" there chickens is that like feeding them worms or a shot to prevent like heart worms or something??
3 my chickens have been on chick starter fr there hole life. 18% protein. They are 13 weeks old. When should I start feeding them scratch grains an oyster shells for laying???
4 chicken are omnivores I know this. How often should I feed them meat? I have fish in my back yard I could catch, cut up, cook( or give raw) an give to them but do they need it often or use as treats???
Thanks
Feeding some fish, once a week, is a great supplement. However, if you over do this, you can taint the taste of the eggs.
 
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Demosthine

Songster
7 Years
Jun 26, 2012
1,111
140
191
Phoenix, Arizona
01.) Grit is granular, insoluble material like sand and small rocks that aids in digestion. If your chickens are eating commercial feed like the crumbles or pellets, they do not need additional grit. If they are free-ranging, they will most likely get all they need from the ground. You mentioned having sand, and that should be perfectly adequate for their needs.

02.) Worming a chicken is actually more of de-worming them. You are attempting to kill and flush any type of worms that may have got in to their body. Ringworm, tapeworm, heartworm... Any and all of the above. There are various methods to doing this, ranging from injectable medication to topical administration to natural remedies via food intake. Neobicide, for instance, comes in a topical or injectable form. Pumpkin seed seems to be the most common natural dewormer. Just break a whole pumpkin or a few depending on your flock size, and toss it out. They will eat the pumpkin completely down to the skin and eat the seeds, too. Sprouts and WinCo foods also sell whole, raw pumpkin seeds you can buy. The seeds are said to paralyze the worms and allow them to be flushed out of their system. Do this once or twice a year as a preventative measure.

03.) Start and Grow is perfectly acceptable for feeding all ages of poultry. The primary difference between Start and Grow versus Layer Feed is the calcium content. Once your girls start to lay, you will need to supplement their feed with free-choice calcium regardless of what type of food you give. Save your used egg shells and let them air dry. Once they become brittle use a large spoon, potato masher, or blender to break them up in to small pieces. Put them in a bowl or dish and leave them out at all times. You can also purchased crushed oyster shell or limestone, but that adds unnecessary expense. The egg shell works perfectly fine. If you take the limestone route, just make sure it is not domolitic limestone, which is used in fertilizer. That is not good for them.

Scratch grains are only to be fed as treats, but they can be started once the chickens are old enough for whole grains. Use them sparingly, especially during summer. The corn content raises their body temperatures, keeping them warm during winter. During summer though, you want them to stay as cool as possible.

04.) The most ideal way to supply meat is to allow them to free-range and forage. They should get any meat content they desire. You can also supplement with treats like mealworms, crickets, black soldier fly larvae, maggots, or any scrap meats from trimming you may have done. Starting a mealworm colony is extremely cheap and easy to maintain. Check the Learning Center for Gallo del Ciello's guide to mealworm farming. It has all the information you need. Crickets, soldier flies and maggots are a bit more involved.
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
1. Grit is just little rocks. Chickens do not have teeth so they eat little rocks which collect in their gizzard which is a strong muscle that is part of their digestive track. The gizzard grinds these little rocks against the food to break it down and "chew" it. If they have access to loose dirt and can find their own rocks then you don't need to give grit. Sand is fine when they are young but might be a little small as they mature. The rocks grind down over time and then they need to eat more.

2.Worming is is reference to parasites in the gut -- round worm, flat round, tape worm, cocci, etc. Some people worm on a regular schedule. Some people worm only if they think there is a problem. Others use natural methods to try to prevent worms through a healthy digestive system (pumpkin, ACV, yogurt, etc). Up to you based on your goals and raising methods.

3. If you are on a medicated start feed you may now want to switch to a non-medicated start or grow. Layer is for laying birds only. Once they get to about 18-20 weeks you can add some oyster shell in a separate bowl for calcium. When they all start laying you can decide: either which to a layer (which is chicken food with extra calcium for egg layers) or stick with a grower/non medicated starter and bowl of calcium and your flock will eat calcium as needed -- this may be better if you have birds of different ages or have roosters and laying hens together as they have different calcium requirements.

Scratch is just a snack and corn-based scratch is not super healthy. It does not help laying. Only give a little as a treat if you want to give it at all.

4. Your feed has protein in it. Different feeds have different amounts and kinds of protein but all are designed to be complete nutrition for an omnivorous chicken. Your standard cheapest feed will have soy protein. Some people like this and some do not. I buy a non-soy feed with 20% fish meal protein in the feed. Again, up to you and your goals. Read the tags on your feed to see what proteins types are available and pick what you think is best for your flock. You can give meat scraps if you want. Also mealworms are a very high protein, healthy chicken snack that is very very cheap to farm at home. My chickens also catch and eat mice.
 
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