Chickens have different nutritional needs at different stages of their lives. There are a few basic types of chicken feed. Mash which is grain based and ground into powder, pellets which are compressed mash made into pellets so that there is less waste, and crumbles which are pellets broken into pieces. There is also a whole grain feed called scratch which is a bit like a treat for the birds. If they have too much of this though they can get quite fat. Many people mix their own feed for their chickens but you do need to have a fair bit of knowledge to get this right. I would recommend that people just starting out with raising chickens should buy their chicken feed premixed.
Starter Feed for Chicks
From the time your chicks hatch until 6 weeks of age you will need to feed them chick starter mash with a protein level of 20 percent. It is important that you feed your baby chicks different food to your laying hens as the extra calcium that the older birds need for laying eggs is actually detrimental to baby chicks.
So you will need to separate your chicks from the laying hens until they get old enough. Commercial suppliers provide starter feeds especially made for young chicks. These feeds will provide the chicks with all the minerals and vitamins that they require.
A lot of people use a medicated feed for the first few weeks of a chicken’s life. This is to prevent Coccidiosis which is a parasite that chicks are particularly vulnerable to up until 18 weeks of age.
A chick that is from an egg laying breed will eat about 2 pounds of starter feed in its first 6 weeks.
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