Whole Grains for chicks

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by 1K18, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. 1K18

    1K18 In the Brooder

    Jan 6, 2011
    I have read quite a bit about feeding whole grain to chickens, and even some on transitioning chickens to whole grains. But in the vastness of the internet, i have found only one reference to feeding whole grains to chicks (note to self, upgrade my google-fu). This was on the Greener Pastures Farm website.

    So, to those of you who feed your chickens whole grains, what do you feed your chicks? I'm expecting to get mine in March, and i want to be prepared.

    I am aware that most people use commercial mash. I'm looking for alternatives.

    Thank you, both in advance, and retroactively for everything i've read here previously.
  2. WhoopiePie

    WhoopiePie Chirping

    Nov 1, 2010
    Queens, NY
    i've noticed one BYC member, Organics North, has a recipe: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=46305

    sure alot of other members have recipes too, but i've seen this recipe referenced to when i was searching for the same thing a while ago. you can also do a search (it's in the blue bar above next to "Rules") if you haven't done so already.... although when i do searches i sometimes end up with more questions lol [​IMG]

    good luck
  3. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

    Jan 18, 2008
    Newman Lake, WA
    I don't think it is a good idea to feed small chicks whole grains. They have nothing in their system to grind them up and most of the time a single grain is probably larger than their digestive tract.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have to say that I would encourage you to feed them organic starter/grower like I do until they are about 4-6 weeks old. The important issue is balance. They are not going to be able to eat a very balanced diet with enough protein IMO unless they are able to handle the larger seeds.

    If you are still interested in seeds and grains only, you CAN include some scrambled eggs in their daily diet - that would be excellent! Eggs are CHICK food.

    Also- you can include yogurt (plain)- but I am not sure how much would be a good amount on that one for chicks.

    Please check my BYC page for ideas on grains and seeds. The smaller ones are millet, flaxseeds, and cracked corn. Rolled barley is a little bigger. Chopped quick oats might work.

    Please check your protein levels using the link someone on BYC provided me- it's on my BYC page - so that you end up at around 20% protein for chicks.

    It's tough to get that high on protein.

    I think you would be wise to give them LOTS of scrambled egg if you do it. [​IMG]

    If you come up with a really great recipe, I would like to have it too. [​IMG]

    Also- you should offer grit on day 3 sprinkled like salt over the food- according to this website:
    (Before day 3 they will not be able to digest whole grains due to nothing in the gizzard I suppose)

    So- please note that to digest whole grains you must provide grit unless they are able to find it free ranging (and you are sure it is there).
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    I grind things to a very small size for young chicks, when I supplement. The people I've known that fed chicks their own mix ground the ingredients to a very small size for chicks. That's what chick starter is, finely ground ingredients. As they mature, they can handle larger size particles and you can feed a coarser grind. By the time they're adults, they can eat the whole grains.

    I would be very careful that you get your mix correct for chicks. Some of the recipes I've seen for adult chickens are well researched and some are lacking. In an adult chicken that's free ranged on good pasture, with lots of bugs, they can make up the difference. With a chick in a brooder, you need to make sure that you're providing everything they need, in the proper amounts.

    It's not that it can't and isn't being done. Even with a good recipe, I've seen people deleting ingredients that are too hard to get or too expensive. Unfortunately, those are usually important nutritionally. If you screw up an adult's nutrition, you may have poor production, illness and/or behavioral problems. If you screw up a chick's nutrition, you can end up with chicks that have damaged development or die. A growing body is always more sensitive to malnutrition than an adult. Chicks in particular have an amazingly fast growth rate. An adult chicken is already built and only maintaining their body. They also have nutritional reserves they can call on. I'm not trying to scare you off, just trying to make sure you're careful.

    I provide sand, then smaller grit. Adults get adult sized grit. You can buy grit in chick size or adult size.
  6. Talihofarms

    Talihofarms Songster

    Dec 4, 2010
    We grind and mix our own feed but for chicks we use an organic crumble. The protein intake needs to be around 20%. Whole grains will fall short, so you need to add a suppliment. All kinds of choices from the feed stores. If you are going organic your choices will be limited.

    For a small flock you can get any crumble or pellets as long as it is at least 20% protien. Your best bet would be to use a food prossesor or blender and make it fine like corn meal for the first week. Then a little bigger after that. Also like others have recomended boiled eggs are good. When they get older 6 weeks or so you can give them whole grains,Boss, cracked corn. Sprouts.

    Just my .02
  7. Organics North

    Organics North Songster

    Dec 30, 2009
    Wisconsin Northwoods
    I will grind up my home mix real fine for chicks.. I also make sure the protein is at 20% or better. At about week one they get grit (Sand and extra small granite grit). At this age I find they are interested in sprouted oats, wheat and boss size grains that are well sprouted.. I also let them get some roots and dirt with the occasional worm while they are in the brooder. (Handy for me as I grow lettuce indoors.)

    My experienced is they have no problem with the softened sprouted whole grains at a week old. A real treat is sprouted seeds such as clover or alfalfa at a young age..

    I have raised three broods on "home made" feed from day one. I used to get chicks with pasty butt with commercial starter. (An organic starter with soy as the protein) I do not get pasty butt chicks anymore..

    Oh yes I find medicated feed unnecessary.

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