Chickens have been domesticated and kept for their eggs and meat for thousands of years. Earlier, chicken keepers used to feed a mixture of grains, vegetables, and insects. Due to agricultural advancements, chicken feed is introduced.
Ever wondered why chicken feed is necessary? One hundred thirty-six million chickens are eaten each day worldwide. Also, the demand for eggs is rising. Unless chickens eat healthy food with high nutritional value, their meat and egg production will be lower.
If you have recently started the journey of raising chickens, you might be wondering what to feed to your feathered friends. Ensuring a balanced diet is necessary for optimal health. This guide will cover everything about chicken feed, including supplements, treats, and so on!
Types of Chicken Feed
Generally, four types of chicken feed are available: whole grains, mash, crumbles, and pellets. They vary slightly in their total nutritional value from one brand to another.
Whole Grain Chicken Feed
This type of food is unprocessed. It has three parts: bran, germ, and endosperm. They are mainly whole wheat, whole oats, or whole barley. Chickens can eat them when they are 6 weeks old. Baby chicks under 6 weeks old should not eat them because their digestive system is not powerful.
Chicken keepers should not entirely rely on whole grains. You can keep 40% to 50% of whole grain daily. Laying hens can eat up to 50% of whole grain as they need a lot of energy to lay eggs. But super active flocks may consume a bit more due to higher activities.
Feeding whole grain to chooks can provide several health benefits, such as improving their digestive tracts, increasing their ability to resist coccidiosis challenge, etc.
- Proudly made at Ernst Grain & Livestock, our 7th generation family farm
Mash Chicken Feed
Mash is an unprocessed, loose form of chicken feed, which is mainly fed to baby chicks. This type of food is easy to digest. Hence, younger chickens don’t have to struggle a lot to consume the feed. But baby chicks may waste a lot of mass feed if not served in a proper feeder.
This finely ground and mixed feed provides chicks provide a well-balanced diet in each bite. Many chicken owners mix them with warm water to create a porridge-like texture. A good number of younger chickens love to eat them.
But you might wonder how long it takes to feed chickens mash feed, right? It is a good rule of thumb to feed them from 1st day to the 8th week. After six weeks, you can also serve them other food options along with mass feed to make them used to it.
- Complete Feed For Growing Chickens – A 17% protein crumble feed formulated with organic whole grains, sustainable grub protein, essential oils, vitamins and minerals to help your flock grow strong muscles, healthy bones, and beautiful feathers. Feed your flock like family – zero fuss, zero fillers, only real ingredients.
Pellet Chicken Feed
Protein, supplements, and crushed grain comprise pallets. Manufacturers mix, heat up, and press all these ingredients together to create pallets. This type of food is notorious for meeting all the nutritional needs of chooks.
Pallets increase feed intake and improve feed conversion ratio. Chickens grow faster. So this leads to higher meat and egg production. Besides, pallets have the same size for each piece. Hence, chickens will get consistent nutrition in their every bite.
Other than these, Chickens are less likely to create a mess with pallets. It will cause minimal waste. This is why pallet chicken feed accounted for approximately 50% of total poultry feed in the US.
- COMPLETE AND BALANCED DIET – Complete nutrition for the unique needs of laying hens
Crumble Chicken Feed
This type of chicken feed is first pelleted and then broken down into tinier portions using a crumbler for small beaks. Crumbles are a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. Compared to mashed chicken feed, they are a bit coarser.
Many chicken keepers serve crumble-type chicken feed to baby chicks as it can increase the digestibility of nutrients for them. Chickens will stay healthy as they eat appropriate coccidiostat in the crumble feed.
Chickens of any age can eat crumbles. However, experts suggest feeding crumble chicken feed to younger chickens for the first five weeks. They are likely to eat it more as it is palatable and convenient to eat. This will help baby chicks grow faster.
- EGG PRODUCTION: Manna Pro Layer Pellets are crafted with 16% protein to support optimal egg production.
|Not processed, whole grains||Finely ground mixture||Processed into small, uniform pieces||Compact, cylindrical pieces|
|Moisture content varies depending on the grain||Wet, can spoil quickly||Moist, but less prone to spoilage than mash||Dry, with low moisture content|
|Easy to handle and store||Can be messy to handle||Convenient to handle and store||Easy to handle and store|
|Digestibility depends on the grain||Easily digestible, good for young chicks||Easily digestible, suitable for all ages||Easily digestible, suitable for all ages|
|Available but less commonly used in commercial settings||Less commonly used in commercial settings, but widely available for backyard flocks||Commonly available for backyard flocks and small-scale commercial settings||Widely available in both small and large-scale commercial settings|
|Less expensive than processed feeds||Mid-range price||Mid-range price||Highly expensive|
What to Feed Chickens
Chickens don’t need the same food as they vary in age, breed, and other aspects. Their carbohydrate, vitamin, and proteins requirement will not be the same.
What To Feed Baby Chicks?
Chicken keepers generally feed baby chicks starter feed from the first day to the eighth week. This protein-dense variety of chicken feed contains around 20% to 24% of protein.
They will eat around 1-2 ounces of feed daily for the first eight weeks. It will be around 0.75 to 1 pound of starter feed per week.
But meat-producing chicks need more food than egg-producing chicks. It can be two to four times higher than egg-producing chicks. Make sure to serve three times of water what they eat.
What To Feed Grower Chicks?
These mid-aged chickens keep growing. Flocks usually grow for up to 10 to 14 weeks. But the growth of hens might be a bit slower. They grow up to 18 to 20 weeks till they lay eggs.
Chicken grower feed contains approximately 18% protein but less calcium than regular layer feed. It generally has highly digestible protein to optimize the body frame.
They don’t contain too much protein like starter feed, as it can cause kidney or liver damage. However, grower feed has more specific vitamins and minerals for better egg production.
What To Feed Layer Chickens?
Once your hens start laying eggs, you should serve them layer feed. It contains around 16% to 18% of protein, which is less than starter feed and grower feed.
A laying chicken should feed around 100 and 150 grams of layer feed daily. It is approximately 0.25 lbs per day and 1.5 lbs of feed per week.
Layer feed contains higher levels of calcium, vitamins, and minerals than other feed to produce better quality eggs consistently. Slowly switch to layer feed after chickens become 18 weeks old.
How To Transition Chicken Feed?
Regardless of what brand or type of chicken feed you serve, transit slowly from one option to another. You can’t accidentally switch to a new option all at once.
It may cause digestive upset. The chickens’ digestive system will take around 2-3 weeks to adapt to their new food.
Plus, they may not recognize the new feed. In some cases, they will stop eating altogether and gradually lose significant weight.
If both feeds are almost similar, the transition time will be shorter. They can adapt to new food quickly. But slowly going is still better to let your chickens adjust it properly.
The following table shows how to shift to a new chicken feed from an older feed.
|Feed Ratio||Old Feed||New Feed|
Is Corn-free And Soy-free Chicken Feed Good?
Many chicken feeds contain corn as it is a good source of dietary energy and easy to digest.
Soybean is another common ingredient as it has an excellent amino acid profile with increased protein content. It can significantly contribute to increased feed conversion rates and body weight gain.
Why Are Corn And Soy Diets Sometimes Bad?
However, chicken owners who have allergy issues may avoid feeding corn and soy diets to chickens. They may get allergic reactions by eating eggs.
Corn contains a storage protein found in its kernel, known as zein. It can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Besides, corn and soy diets have a higher level of phytoestrogens. It can disrupt their hormonal balance, leading to a range of adverse effects.
Phytoestrogens can interfere with egg production and the secretion of hormones, such as estrogen, that are involved in egg laying.
Why Corn-free And Soy-free Chicken Feed Better?
Corn-free and soy-free chicken feed has 20-29% crude protein. Compared to soybeans, they have a higher level of lysine. It is also a potential protein-energy source.
Their nutrient-dense protein sources can ensure faster growth, increase muscle mass, and improve overall body condition.
However, this type of chicken feed doesn’t contain as many sulfur amino acids methionine and cystine as soybean-based chicken feed. It is still enough, though.
What to Feed a Mixed Flock?
Are you raising different ages, breeds, and sizes of chickens together? Does it also have a few ducks? You might be wondering how to feed such diversified groups of birds, right?
Wait! Don’t think you are the first one in this world who has faced this situation. Hundreds of chicken keepers have a mixed flock.
But the main question is, what type of chicken feed to serve to these mixed chicken groups?
The below table will give you a complete idea regarding how to serve various types of feed in a mixed flock.
|Chicks||22%-24% protein for 1-4 weeks of age and 20%-22% protein for 5-8 weeks of age|
|Growers||Serve starter feed for chicks and grower feed for growers separately||18% to 20% protein for those above 8 weeks of age|
|Layers||Serve starter feed for chicks and layer feed for growers separately||Serve oyster shells in layers separately||18% to 20% protein after 20 or 21 weeks of age|
|Roosters||Serve starter feed for chicks and layer feed for roosters separately||Roosters and female chickens will eat the same grower feed||Roosters and female chickens will eat the same layer of feed|
|Ducks||21%-22% protein chick starter with Niacin supplement||Serve grower feed from 3 weeks to 20 weeks of age||Serve oyster shells in layers separately|
|Dual Purpose||Serve starter feed for chicks and layer feed for dual birds separately||Serve supplement oyster shells to layers separately||18% to 20% protein after 20 or 21 weeks of age|
What Chicken Supplements Should You Feed?
Do chickens need supplements? YES, they do!
Feeding vitamin and mineral supplements to chickens will make them stronger, super active, and healthy.
Besides, high-quality chicken supplements contribute to better egg production, improved metabolic processes, and developed new feathers or muscles.
Chickens don’t have any feed. They can’t chew feed like other animals. Grits are essential for chooks to digest the feed easily. It works in lieu of teeth by grinding the meal.
This hard substance is typically made from crushed stones, gravel, or other insoluble materials. It goes inside their crop and gizzard to help break down their feed.
On average, chickens eat 30 to 50 grams of stones or insoluble grit annually. It is usually up to 1/20th of their diet in grit.
But chooks may eat a bit more if their digestive system struggles to grind the food properly.
Don’t think feeding grits is not necessary for free-range chickens. You must serve them grit if they don’t get enough natural grit materials in their surroundings.
The following table shows how much grit to serve at different ages of chickens.
|Age of Chickens||Amount of Grit|
|Chicks (0-8 weeks)||Not required. Chicks derive grit from chick starter feed.|
|Growers (8-20 weeks)||1 to 2 teaspoons of grit per bird per week.|
|Layers (20+ weeks)||2 to 3 teaspoons of grit per bird per week.|
Serving grit in a separate pot is a good rule of thumb. They will eat it when it is necessary. In this article, we’ve more details on chicken grit and our recommendations.
Are your female chickens started laying eggs already? Or is it already completed 18 weeks old? You must start serving oyster shells along with regular layer feed.
Do you know more than 90% of eggshells contain calcium carbonate? It is 20 times higher than the requirement of bone.
Oyster shells provide enough calcium to make eggshells stronger. If you don’t feed enough calcium, laying chickens may lay eggs with thin or soft shells.
The eggs are more likely to break easily. In a few cases, they might have no shells at all. More importantly, a lack of calcium may result in reduced egg production.
But you must be wondering how many oyster shells to feed to laying hens. Serve oyster shells separately in a small container. Let them decide how much to eat.
Generally, laying hens need around 4-5 grams of calcium daily. Make sure to refill the container if it becomes empty.
- Flaked Oyster and Seashell Mix
- Oyster shell supplements calcium for laying hens
- Increases strength of eggshells, making for a healthier bird, and better egg quality. All natural, calcium supplement, leads to stronger shells.
- Promotes healthy plumage of chickens, ducks, other waterfowl
What Additional Supplements To Feed Chickens?
Apart from regular grit and oyster shells, you can serve different supplements for extra health benefits.
For example, Organic Coop Kelp Feed Supplement is an excellent option containing calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, iron, zinc, and folate. It is directly collected from the ocean. Besides, the organic supplement has prebiotics that feeds good bacteria in the gut
Another beneficial supplement is Electrolytes. They come in handy, especially for chickens suffering from heat stress or dehydration. It can boost their immune system and improve the functionality of their respiratory and kidney.
Other than these, you can feed different protein booster supplements, such as mealworms, grubs, flaxseed, etc. Vinegar, garlic, sprouted grains, and molasses work as natural supplements.
What Treats To Feed Chickens?
Do you love to eat the same food every day? SURELY, NOT! The same goes for chickens.
Occasionally feeding treats to chickens makes them happy as they enjoy some variation in their diet. However, treats should be in a limited amount.
The amount can’t exceed 5% of a chicken’s diet. It is around 2 tablespoons for a particular day. Also, you can’t feed any treats to chickens unless it is at least 4 weeks of age.
Is Scratch Good For Chickens?
Scratch is a tasty food that is appealing to chickens. However, this type of feed is more of a treat than a balanced diet. They are mainly made from plain cracked corn or seeds and other grains.
You can’t serve them regularly as they lack enough nutritional value. They are perfect for an occasional treat. One of the primary reasons behind giving scratch is to encourage natural scratching behavior.
Besides, scratch food is helpful to keep the chickens occupied and reduce boredom, which can lead to aggressive or destructive behavior. They also come in handy to keep chickens warm in cold weather
Make sure it is not more than 10% of a particular day’s diet. Also, the chickens must be at least five or six weeks old before serving scratch.
- 7-GRAINS: Our scratch grains for chickens provide a high-protein, high-fiber, and nutrient-rich 7-grain blend of corn, wheat, milo, barley, oats, sunflower seeds, and millet, ensuring your birds receives essential vitamins and minerals for optimal health
- ENGAGING & NATURAL: Our chicken feed, free from artificial colors and flavors, uses visually appealing purple corn and natural ingredients to provide healthy and engaging bird food; try our chicken scratch and watch your flock thrive
- NON-GMO: Naturally non-GMO, our chicken scratch feed is essential for maintaining health and productivity of all poultry types; made with natural ingredients and free from harmful chemicals, our purposely crafted scratch is a healthy choice for your birds
- FOR MIXED FLOCKS: Our scratch is a versatile choice for farmers; crafted to meet the dietary needs of chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and gamebirds, our Ultimate Chicken Scratch provides a balanced diet & is an excellent source of calories and energy
- MADE IN USA: Our chicken food is proudly made in the USA, using only the finest ingredients; by choosing our chicken scratch, you’re ensuring your birds receive a high-quality, domestically made product that you can trust
What Treats To Feed To Chickens In Summer?
Heat stress and overheating are common in chickens from consistently high summer temperatures. It can result in dehydration and pH imbalance.
When the temperature goes above 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you must keep them cool enough. Besides ensuring a cooler environment, you want to serve them some tasty summer treats.
Do you think it is expensive to feed summer treats to chickens? NO! You can serve natural and fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to your feathered friends.
One of the most effective techniques is feeding frozen fruits and vegetables. It can provide a cooling effect to the chickens, especially during hot weather. The coolness can help to lower their body temperature and keep them more comfortable.
Besides, many fruits and vegetables contain a high percentage of water. By freezing them, the ice crystals can help to preserve the water content. This can help to keep chickens hydrated during hot weather when they may be at risk of dehydration.
The following table shows a list of various vegetables, fruits, and herbs you can serve to feed chicken.
How To Prepare Summer Treats Before Serving?
Instead of feeding only vegetables, fruits, or herbs, serving all of them together will make them better tasty and palatable to chickens.
Step 01: Make sure to collect organic and fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. They should be free from any signs of spoilage or mold.
Step 02: Chop all the vegs, fruits, and herbs into small, bite-sized pieces so the chickens can easily consume them. They should not be larger than about 1/2 inch in size.
Step 03: Grab an ice cube tray and add the chopped items to those tiny cells. Keep a small number of vegetables, fruits, and herbs in each cell.
Step 04: Add enough water to each cell without overfilling. Keep them in a freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving the food.
Step 05: Put out the ice container and gently remove the cubes one by one. Add them to a small bowl or container. Serve the frozen food during excessively warm temperatures.
Are Mealworms Good For Chickens?
Mealworms are an excellent source of protein and fat. Live mealworms contain around 50% to 55% protein, whereas dried mealworms have 75% to 80% crude protein.
Mealworms contain crude fiber vitamins to escape digestion and absorption in their small intestine.
Also, they have vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. Make sure your chickens are at least one month old for the eligibility to eat mealworms.
An adult chicken can eat around 10-12 mealworms daily besides their regular feed. It will work as a healthy protein supplement. But, it should not be more than 16% of their regular meal.
Chickens face a lot of stress during extremely hot or cold weather. Chooks can eat 20-22 mealworms to ensure proper functionality of their metabolism and endocrine profiles
You can feed both live and dried mealworms. Serve live mealworms during dry conditions, whereas dried mealworms are better for dinner.
The following table shows the primary difference between live and dried mealworms.
|Specifications||Live mealworms||Dried mealworms|
|Protein Level||50% to 55% protein||75% to 80% crude protein|
|Feeding behavior||Encourages natural foraging and exercise||Does not encourage natural foraging and exercise|
|Health risks||Risk of disease or escape if not handled properly||No risk of disease or escape|
|Longevity||Short shelf life||Long shelf life|
|Availability||Not highly available||Easily available|
|Convenience||Require maintenance and care||Ready to use, no maintenance required|
|Storage||Require specific conditions (cool, dark place with food and moisture)||Easy to store at room temperature|
- CHICKEN SNACKS YOUR FLOCK WILL ENJOY. If you own chickens, you know how much they love to eat insects. Dried insects or grubs are not only a delicious healthy chicken snack but also a nutrient-rich food for laying hens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, quails, geese, and other fowl. Just give the bag a shake and your flock will come running.
What Food Should You Not Feed To Chickens?
Not all table scraps or leftovers are safe for chickens. Apart from lacking a balanced diet, some can harm your feathered friends.
Just because you want to save a few bucks doesn’t necessarily mean you will serve any waste. Be cautious before feeding any leftover food.
The followings are typical food you should not feed to your chickens.
01. Apple Seeds: Avoid feeding apple seeds as they have cyanide. It disrupts the metabolic process and prevents the body cells from utilizing oxygen. If chickens eat 21 microgrammes per kilo of their weight, they may even die as cyanide acts almost instantly.
02. Avocado: Don’t feed the skins and pits of avocado to chickens. They contain a toxin named Persin, which is deadly for chickens. Overeating avocados can result in different respiratory problems within 1-2 days. Also, avoid feeding them leaves, bark, or seeds of avocado.
03. Butter: You can’t feed chickens too much butter because they are high concentrations of fat. It will be unhealthy for chooks. Besides, butter contains a higher amount of salt. It can cause a severe strain on a chicken’s kidneys.
04. Candy: Chocolates should not be fed to chickens as they contain caffeine. Flocks may see more red. Plus, candies have excessive sugar that can make chooks overweight. Regular eating may also cause tremendous digestive problems.
05. Dried or raw beans: Avoid feeding dried or raw beans as they have a chemical compound named phytohaemagglutinin. It is so toxic that eating 3-4 beans can kill chickens within 1-2 hours. Initially, they may cause bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
06. Eggplants: Avoid feeding the stems, leaves, and calyx of eggplants as they have an alkaloid called solanine. This toxin substance immediately affects the nervous system and GI tract of chickens. It may even sometimes cause death too.
07. Fried foods: Don’t feed fried foods to flocks. They contain a higher level of oil. It fails to break down and extract nutrients from grains, seeds, vegetables, and protein sources. They are also high in calories and fat. It can lead to obesity, heart disease, and liver disease.
08. Green potatoes: You can feed sweet and white potatoes but not green potatoes. They have a toxin compound named solanine. This natural pesticide and neurotoxin can cause respiratory distress, convulsions, neurological damage, diarrhea, etc.
09. Mushrooms: Avoid feeding any poisonous or toxic mushrooms. They can damage their kidney and cause neurological issues, digestive problems, bleeding, and even death. However, you can feed them edible mushrooms as they are safe to eat.
10. Onions: Chickens are highly sensitive to the consumption of onions. They can’t eat more than 0.5% of their body weight. Excessive consumption of onions may damage red blood cells and cause Heinz’s body anemia due to the high concentration of sulfur combs.
11. Tomato leaves: Don’t serve chooks tomato leaves as they contain different toxic combs, such as tomatine, oxalic acid, boron, and carbohydrates. They can cause diarrhea, liver damage, and spoilage from excessive bacteria growth.
12. Uncooked rice: Avoid feeding uncooked rice to chickens as they are likely to absorb the moisture in a chicken’s crop and cause impaction. It will swell up in their stomachs and potentially cause blockages or other digestive issues.
What Food Can You Feed To Chickens In A Small Amount?
Some food can be good for chickens when fed in a small quantity. The followings are the typical food you can serve to chickens in moderation.
01. Ham: You can feed chickens ham sparingly. It should only be once a week. Ham contains lean protein that can provide all nine essential amino acids. But you can’t feed it too much as it is high in fat and salt (sodium).
02. Pasta: Chickens love to eat cooked pasta. It has many nutrients, such as protein, fiber, iron, and carbohydrates. But you must feed in a small amount. One cup of pasta is enough to feed three chooks. Overeating pasta will lead to weight gain and various nasty complications.
03. Peanut butter: Peanut butter contains protein, vitamins, and minerals. One tablespoon of creamy peanut butter contains twice the quantity of protein. You must feed them this creamy, sweet treat in limited quantities. Otherwise, they will gain too much weight.
04. Spinach: Chickens can eat raw spinach as it contains several vitamins, beta carotene, iron, magnesium, potassium, etc. But make sure to feed them only once a week with other herbs and vegetables. Excessive consumption will affect egg production and quality.
05. Garlic: Chooks can eat a moderate amount of garlic as it has natural antibiotic properties. Garlic works great against respiratory problems and infection. But make sure to feed only one dosage of fresh garlic per week.
06. Bread: It is not bad at all to feed bread to chickens in moderation. The taste and texture of the bread are enticing to chooks. They have a source of carbohydrates, which are essential for energy production and growth. But excessive consumption can lead to digestive problems.
What Are The Benefits Of Fermenting Chicken Feed?
Apart from the regular food, you can serve to ferment chicken feed for your chooks. But why should you feed fermenting chicken feed? Here is why!
01. Beneficial Bacteria: Fermenting feed contains many beneficial microbes called probiotics. It can encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. They will cause a potential probiotic effect and restore the balance of bacteria in their gut
02. Readily Available Protein: Compared to regular food, fermenting chicken feed has a higher protein level. Hence, you have to feed less quantity in each meal. Flocks also love to eat them, so they will waste as less as possible.
03. Reduction Of Pathogens: Pathogens bacteria are harmful to chickens. They can infect and multiply within a chicken’s body. Fermenting chicken feed can reduce Pathogens’ growth and protect chooks from various infections and diseases.
04. Improved Egg Production: Fermentation can increase the availability of certain nutrients in the feed, such as amino acids and vitamins, which are essential for better and higher egg production. It also reduces stress that could have led to lower or no egg production.
05. Better Growth: Regular intake of fermented chicken feed can improve chooks’ weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR). The taste and texture of fermented feed are more palatable to flocks. They eat more and consume more nutrients for better overall growth.
How To Make Fermented Chicken Feed?
Many brands sell fermented chicken feed commercially. But they are a bit expensive and have a limited storage life.
How about making fermented chicken feed of your own? Believe me; it is pretty easy! All you have to do is follow the below-mentioned simple steps.
Step 01: Adding The Chicken Feed
First, grab a food-grade container or glass jar.
Avoid choosing poor quality plastics as they may release toxin chemical combs over time.
Mark the container in three portions and refill one-third of it with chicken feed
Step 02: Pouring Water
The next job is pouring water inside the container and filling it with water two third of the container. But what type of water should you choose?
You can use distilled water as it contains no minerals, contaminants, or additives.
Alternatively, choose any non-chlorinated water. They can improve the digestibility of feed and nutrient absorption.
Step 03: Mixing And Covering
Stir the mixture properly for 1-2 minutes. Add cheesecloth on top of the container to avoid contamination.
Next, add a lid or cover over the cheesecloth and tighten it correctly.
But, don’t overtighten it. Otherwise, it will cause leakage issues and allow the gas to easily escape once fermentation begins.
Step 04: Monitoring
Keep the container in that condition for 12 hours. Make sure the chicken feed doesn’t absorb too much water. If it is, add additional water to keep the feed fully submerged.
Stir the mixture once daily. It will prevent the mixture from consolidating at the bottom level.
You can keep the container in a warm location for fermenting the chicken feed quickly. Let it sit for three days or more until a perfect fermentation occurs.
But how to know your chicken feed is fully fermented? You can guess it through their bubbles and smells. If it has a stronger and sour smell, fermentation will likely be completed.
How To Serve Fermented Feed To Chickens?
Once the fermentation process is complete, strain the liquid using a strainer, sifter, or sieve.
Pour the fermented chicken feed into a bowl or chicken feeder. Make sure chooks finish eating them within 25-30 minutes.
Molds and bacteria will likely develop if the fermented chicken feed is exposed to open air for a long time. Make sure to feed enough clean water along with the food.
Daily serving fermented chicken feed is okay as it works as regular feed.
Pro Bonus Tips To Feed Fermented Chicken Feed
01. Avoid completely sealing the container. Some air must go inside it.
02. The container will develop more bubbles and a strong smell over time.
03. Before feeding the fermented chicken feed, make sure to stir it properly.
04. Don’t repeatedly open the container every now and often. Serve daily food at a time.
05. Use the old liquid to ferment chicken again for faster fermentation.
06. Make sure all the jar you will be using to ferment the feed is clean and sanitized.
07. Ferment in a warm place. The temperature should be between 70-80°F.
08. For simple fermentation, use easy-to-ferment grains like oats, quinoa, etc.
How To Make Chicken Feed At Home?
Buying commercial chicken feed is more affordable than making it at home. But you have more control over the ingredients regarding how much to add.
Besides, you can create a custom feed mix that meets your chickens’ specific nutritional needs. It allows you to adjust the proportions of different ingredients to optimize your diet.
Before making chicken feed, you must consider what type of chickens you are raising. The ingredients will vary slightly or moderately depending on age and nutritional requirements.
The following table shows four different recipes for chicken feed.
|Chicken Feed For Laying Hens||Chicken Feed For Broiler Hens||Whole Grain Layer Feed||Basic Chicken Layer Feed|
|13.375 lbs of whole maize meal||12.5 lbs of cracked corn||0.75 lbs of poultry Nutri-balancer||11.2 lbs of corn|
|3.5 of lbs soya||7.5 lbs of ground roasted soybeans||7.30 lbs of hard red wheat||5 lbs of whole soybeans|
|3.875 lbs of maize bran||1.25 lbs of aragonite (calcium powder)||6.25 lbs of barley||1.6 lbs of limestone|
|1.625 lbs of limestone powder||1.25 lbs of alfalfa meal||5.22 lbs of millet||1 lb of sunflower seed meal|
|1.25 lbs of rolled oats||4.18 lbs of oats||0.7 lbs of oats|
|0.75 lbs of poultry nutri-balancer||0.261 lbs of kelp||0.2 lbs of vitamin-mineral premix|
|0.261 lbs of garlic powder||0.14 lbs of dicalcium phosphate|
|0.261 lbs of food-grade diatomaceous earth||0.1 lbs of alfalfa meal|
|0.06 lbs of salt|
What To Consider When Making DIY Chicken Feed At Home?
01. Ensure your chicken feed is well-balanced, including proteins, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and water.
02. Don’t forget to research the nutritional needs of your chickens based on their age, breed, and purpose.
03. Look for high-quality, whole-food ingredients free from pesticides, chemicals, and other contaminants.
04. Consider whether the time and effort required to make your own feed are worth it compared to the convenience of purchasing pre-made feed.
03. Use airtight containers to keep the feed fresh for longer.
06. Store your homemade chicken feed in a dry, cool place to prevent spoilage and pests.
Why Raise Free-Range Chickens?
Raising free-range chickens has many advantages. Chooks wander here and there and involve in various exercises. This can help them to develop more muscles.
Research also showed that free-range flocks have better meat quality as they eat a natural, high-protein diet. Chicken keepers will save a significant amount of feed costs.
However, raising free-range chickens has some disadvantages too. They may eat harmful stuff, run your landscaped areas, eat unwanted plants, etc.
The below table shows the common pros and cons of raising cage-free chickens.
|Pros Of Free-Range Chickens||Cons Of Free-Range Chickens|
|Better walking and feather conditions||Prone get hunted by predators|
|A higher value of products||Consuming harmful items|
|Developing beneficial gut bacteria||Eating unnecessary plants from the garden|
|Better quality eggs with tastier flavor||Destroying and eating eggs|
|Eating bugs, flies, and spiders from the garden||Damaging lawn|
|Easy to raise a higher number of chooks||Pooping everywhere|
|Lower feed cost||Creating holes in the backyard|
|Using chickens’ poops as garden compost||Getting complaints from neighbors|
What Is The Best Chicken Feeder?
You have already got a complete idea about the chicken feed. But where will you keep the food? Should you keep them randomly in a typical pot or container? NO!
Flocks make a lot of mess. They constantly scratch and dig with their feet. Choosing a functional chicken feeder can help you control your unruly behavior.
Chicken feeders come in various types. Their design, size, and working mechanism vary slightly. Some are pretty basic-type, and some are a bit advanced.
01. Automatic Chicken Feeders
This type of chicken feeder is widely used. They are a bit expensive but worth it as a long-term investment. Self-feeder or chicken treadle feeders ensure minimal feed wastage because feed is kept inside the feeder safely without any spillage.
Automated chicken feeders are good at keeping vermin away. Adjusting the height is easygoing. This is a convenient feature for baby chickens. Besides, they are operated electrically. So, you don’t have to worry about feeding chooks frozen feed.
02. Liner Chicken Feeders
Are your flocks a bit aggressive? Liner chicken feeders have a practical design with optimally sized feed holes and ridges. Chooks will fail to sit on top of the feeder to perch and foul the feed. They are generally made from Galvanized Iron to ensure long-term durability.
Chickens can enjoy the feed by standing from either side. This type of feeder is a space saver as each partition cover 1-2 inches of space. 2 birds can eat at a time from one side each. Adjusting the height of the feeder is simple using its provisions.
03. Circular Chicken Feeders
Do you want to promote natural feeding behavior in chickens? If so, circular chicken feeders are the best choice. This feeder has a circular shape and is designed to dispense feed to chickens in a circular pattern. It can hold around 5-7 kg of chicken feed at a time.
The feeder consists of a circular trough with a number of feeding ports spaced around the edge. As the chickens peck at the feed, the trough rotates, bringing more food within reach of the feeding ports. It also reduces the amount of time and effort required to feed chickens.
04. Tray Chickens Feeders
Are you looking for feeders for your baby chicks? Tray feeders are a good choice for younger chickens. They can easily access the food. You don’t have to train them to eat food. It generally consists of a flat tray or pan with raised edges to hold the feed in place.
The tray is typically made of plastic or metal. You can use them to serve a small number of chickens at a time. The feed is placed in the tray and the chickens peck at the feed as needed. Cleaning the feeder is hassle-free. You can use them both indoors and outdoors.
05. Rectangular Wooden Chicken Feeders
Wondering how to feed a larger number of chickens at once with a basic chicken feeder? Rectangular wooden feeders are a perfect option. They are made of wood, such as pine, cedar, and redwood, and have a rectangular shape.
The feeder is typically placed on the ground or hung from a support, and the chickens peck at the feed as needed. Chicken keepers prefer to make them of their own due to their simple design. However, chooks may sit on top of the feeder and create a mess.
What Are The Qualities Of A Good Chicken Feeder?
How do you define a good quality chicken feeder? It must be functional and supportive enough to let chickens peacefully enjoy the food.
The followings are the common attributes you should not overlook when looking for a decent chicken feeder.
01. Simple To Access For Chickens
What is the use of keeping food in a feeder if chickens can’t access the food? A chicken feeder must be easily accessible to all chickens. If you are raising different sizes of birds, make sure the smallest birds can eat food conveniently from the feeders. Monitor their feed intake behavior.
02. Prevention Of Feed Spoilage
A chicken eats around 100-120 grams of feed daily. The average annual cost can be approximately $65 to $75. The more your chickens waste the feed, the more additional cost you will have to bear. A chicken feeder must have a lid or cover to prevent birds from sitting on top.
03. Hungable Off The Ground
A chicken feeder should be easy to hang off the ground. The food container is less likely to come into contact with dirt, feces, or other contaminants on the floor. It will decrease feed waste and contamination and discourage rodents and other pests from accessing the feed.
04. Easy To Clean
An easy-to-clean chicken feeder helps to maintain good hygiene and reduce the risk of disease and infection among the flock. It will save time and effort in cleaning the unit. Regular cleaning and disinfecting ensure minimal buildup of bacteria, mold, and other harmful pathogens.
05. Appropriate For Their Age
Baby chicks don’t need the same feeder as adult chickens. Automatic chicken feeders have a complicated design. You can’t use them for younger chickens. Young chicks require a small and shallow feeder to prevent drowning in the feed or getting stuck, while older birds need larger feeders to accommodate their larger size and appetite.
Is It Better To Keep Chicken Feeders Inside Or Outside The Coop?
One of the most common questions many new chicken owners ask is: Where to set up chicken feeders?
It generally depends on factors such as coop space, weather conditions, the potentiality of predators, rodents and insect attacks, etc.
When To Keep Chicken Feeders Outside The Coop?
01. When there is limited space inside the coop
02. In wet and humid climates, to prevent mold and dampness
03. If there are predators in the area
04. For ease of refilling and cleaning the feeder
05. To control pests, such as rodents and insects, by keeping the feed away from the coop
When To Keep Chicken Feeders Inside The Coop?
01. When there is enough space inside the coop
02. In cold or harsh weather conditions
03. If there are no predators in the area
04. To prevent feed spillage and waste
05. To keep the feed away from pests inside the coop
06. For ease of access and monitoring of the feeding behavior
What Type Of Storage Container To Use To Keep Chicken Feed?
Serving fresh and smell-free food to chickens requires storing it properly. Squirrels, raccoons, rats, and mice are fond of chicken feed. They will look for the slightest opportunities to access food.
Choose an airtight storage container to keep the chicken feed safely. You can select metal trash cans with tight-fitting lids as they are highly durable. Squirrels, rats, or mice can’t create any holes using their gnawing teeth.
Bonus Tips For Storing Chicken Feed
01. If you store the chicken feed in a simple platter or bowl, make sure to keep them in the lower section of the refrigerator to avoid falling issues.
02. Store chicken feed in the refrigerator at 38 degrees to 40 degrees F or lower to avoid the growth of bacteria and mold.
03. Keep the chicken feed in a dry and well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, moisture, and pests.
04. If you are using metal containers, make sure it has good-safe paint or a ceramic barrier on the interior part to avoid interaction with the food.
05. Avoid storing chicken feed for more than 6 months from the date of manufacturing. Chickens may become sick from eating expired food.
06. Keep the feed off the ground and away from walls to reduce the risk of contamination by pests such as rodents or insects.
07. Store different types of feed separately to prevent cross-contamination and ensure that each feed type stays fresh.
08. Label the containers with the date of purchase and the type of feed to keep track of the age and freshness of the feed.
09. Rotate the feed regularly and use the oldest feed first to prevent spoilage and waste.
10. If storing feed for an extended period, consider using food-grade diatomaceous earth to help prevent insect infestation.
An adult chicken eats around 0.25 lbs of feed daily. It will be approximately 1.5 lbs per week. Hence, a 50-pound bag of feed will easily last for 33 weeks for a single chicken. Before choosing a particular type of chicken feed, you must consider your chooks’ age, breed, and other attributes.
More importantly, you must provide a well-balanced chicken feed with high nutritional value. Discussing with a certified poultry veterinarian is a good rule to learn the best chicken feed for your birds. Hopefully, you got a complete idea of chicken feed.