It is crucial to feed chickens starter feed to baby chicks to ensure their optimal growth and support their bone health and immunity. Starter feeds contain various types of nutrition, such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids, prebiotics, probiotics, etc. They come in various types such as medicated chick starter feed, organic chick starter feed, non-medicated chick starter feed, etc.
How long do you feed chickens starter feed? It is a good rule of thumb to serve starter feed for the first day after chickens are hatched and continue it for at least six weeks. Sometimes, the duration can be 8-10 weeks, depending on your chicken’s eating habits and breed type.
How Long Do You Feed Chickens Starter Feed?
It is a good rule of thumb to feed chicken starter feed from the very first day of their born and continue it for at least six weeks.
In some cases, the feeding duration of chicken starter feed can be up to 8 weeks.
Some baby chicks may not grow as fast as others. In such conditions, serving this type of food for up to 8 weeks is a good rule.
Generally, starter chicken feed contains 20-24% protein, whereas regular food has 16-18% protein.
It is essential for developing chicks’ muscles and promoting strength and bone integrity. This special food is highly important during their developmental stages.
It also has more calcium than regular chicken food to support its circulatory, nervous, and cardiac systems.
How To Determine How Long To Feed Chickens Starter Feed?
Ever wondered what factors determine how long you should feed chickens starter feed?
The following points play a crucial role in the duration of feeding chicken starter feed to baby chicks.
01. Age Of The Baby Chick
The age of the baby chick is the most critical factor in determining how long to feed them starter feed.
Chicks require a high-protein diet to support their rapid growth and development during the first few weeks of their life.
Generally, chicks should be fed starter feed from day one up to 6-8 weeks of age, depending on the breed of the chicken.
02. Breed of the Chick
The breed of the chick can also play a role in how long to feed them starter feed.
Some breeds grow faster and require a shorter duration of starter feed.
You can serve them regular chicken food even after five to six weeks.
In contrast, some may need a more extended period of feeding. You may have to continue it for up to 8 to 10 weeks.
03. Nutritional Requirements
The nutritional requirements of the chick will also determine how long to feed them starter feed.
Starter feed is formulated to meet growing chicks’ high protein and energy needs.
Once the chicks are older and have developed their feathers, they may require a lower protein diet.
04. Health and Growth Rate
The overall health and growth rate of the chick should also be taken into consideration.
Are your chicks not growing as quickly as they should? Or are they experiencing health problems?
If so, extending the starter feed’s feeding period may be necessary.
05. Transition to Grower Feed
Once the baby chicks reach the appropriate age, they should be gradually transitioned to a grower feed that is lower in protein and higher in energy.
This transition can take anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the health and growth rate of the chicks.
Is Feeding Chicken Starter Feed For Too Long Bad For Chickens?
Chicken starter feed should not be served after 6 to 10 weeks.
This particular food may affect your flocks negatively due to a higher level of nutrition.
The followings are common problems your chooks may face if you feed starter feed for too long.
01. Excessive Protein
Starter chicken feed contains 20-24% protein, whereas regular food has 16-18% protein.
Once flocks reach eight weeks of age, they don’t need as much protein as baby chicks need.
Feeding starter feed after ten weeks may result in an excessive protein intake.
It can lead to kidney failure, liver damage, and other health problems.
02. Excess Calorie
Starter chicken feed contains a higher level of calories.
If you feed this special food too long, your flocks will become overweight.
It will result in obesity and other health problems.
The following table shows the ideal calorie requirement based on age and breed type.
|Age Range||Breed Type||Calorie Requirements per Day|
|0-4 weeks||All breeds||100-140|
|5-8 weeks||Meat breeds||150-170|
|5-8 weeks||Layer breeds||130-150|
|9-12 weeks||Meat breeds||170-190|
|9-12 weeks||Layer breeds||150-170|
|13-20 weeks||Meat breeds||190-210|
|13-20 weeks||Layer breeds||170-190|
|Over 20 weeks||All breeds||130-170|
03. Nutrient Imbalance
Starter feed is formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of baby chicks.
If you feed this special food too long, they may not receive the appropriate balance of nutrients required for their age and stage of development.
04. Problems In the Digestive System
If chicks are fed starter feed for too long, it can delay the development of their digestive system.
It will affect their C. perfringens counts in the intestine and causes an adverse effect on chicken growth.
05. Unwillingness To Eat Regular Feed
If you have gone too far, your chooks may have already developed only eating starter feed.
They may not be interested in eating regular chicken feed anywhere.
The general rule is to gradually decrease the starter feed amount and increase the regular food amount.
Starter feed is typically more expensive than other types of chicken feed.
Feeding chickens starter feed for too long can lead to unnecessary expenses and a higher cost of raising chickens.
Is It Okay To Switch Grower Feed From Chickens Starter Feed Too Soon?
Switching from Chickens Starter Feed to regular chicken feed is not recommended too soon.
Starter feed is specifically formulated to provide the necessary nutrients for the growth and development of baby chicks during their first few weeks of life.
Switching to regular chicken feed too soon can result in nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.
It may result in different health issues and slower growth.
As a general guideline, baby chicks should be fed starter feed until they are at least six weeks old and possibly up to 8-10 weeks old, depending on the breed.
After that, they can transition to a grower or developer feed.
It will provide them with an appropriate balance of nutrients for their continued growth and development.
Follow the feeding recommendations on the feed packaging and consult with a veterinarian or poultry nutritionist for specific advice based on your flock’s needs.
How Much Chicken Starter Feed Do Baby Chicks Need?
Baby chicks need less quantity of starter feed initially. You have to increase it gradually as their age increases.
However, meat-based or heavy-breed flocks need a little bit more food than layer breeds.
It is always best to follow the package instruction for an ideal feeding amount.
Another important thing is to consult with a certified veterinarian or poultry nutritionist for specific advice based on your flock’s needs.
The following table shows the approximate amount of chicken starter feed to serve daily.
|Age Range||Amount of Starter Feed per Day|
|0-1 week||Around 1/4 cup per chick per day|
|2 weeks||Around 1/4 – 1/3 cup per chick per day|
|3 weeks||Around 1/3 – 1/2 cup per chick per day|
|4 weeks||Around 1/2 – 2/3 cup per chick per day|
|5 weeks||Around 1/2 – 3/4 cup per chick per day|
|6 weeks||Around 3/4 – 1 cup per chick per day|
|7 weeks||Around 1 – 1 1/4 cups per chick per day|
|8 -10 weeks||Around 1 – 1 1/2 cups per chick per day|
How To Transition From Chicken Starter Feed To Grower Feed?
Never make the mistake of feeding your chickens suddenly grower feed fully without any starter feed.
The solid rule is decreasing the starter feed amount and gradually increasing the grower feed.
For example, you can add 20% of grower feed with 80% of starter feed after six to seven weeks.
Continue this approach for one week and increase the grower feed amount by 25% to 30%.
A gradual change will help flocks to adapt to the food pattern easily. They will develop a new food habits.
Sometimes, it may take longer to stop feeding chicken starter feed.
You can continue feeding 10-20% of starter feed up to 10-12 weeks.
Can Adult Chickens Eat Starter Feed?
Starter feed contains a higher level of protein. They are combined with many rich protein foods, such as soybean, canola, and different dried and crushed seeds.
These nutrients are necessary for the growth and development of baby chicks.
But the nutritional requirements of adult chickens will vary from baby chickens.
They may benefit more from a different feed formulated specifically for their needs.
Besides, feeding starter feed to hens may affect their egg production.
Many chicken owners complained that hens’ eggshell formation is slightly different from regular chooks.
The eggshell is a bit softer. In some cases, hens may lay only liquid eggs.
Hence, it is best to avoid feeding starter feed to adult chooks.
Tips For Feeding Chicken Starter Feed To Baby Chooks
Feeding baby chicks with starter feed is essential to raising healthy and happy chickens.
Here are some tips on how to feed baby chicks with starter feed:
01. Choose The Right Type Of Starter Feed
Make sure you purchase a high-quality starter feed specifically formulated for baby chicks.
Starter feed contains a higher percentage of protein and other essential nutrients necessary for the growth and development of chicks.
02. Offer Starter Feed Immediately After Hatching
Baby chicks need to start eating as soon as possible after hatching.
Make sure to provide them with starter feed within the first 24 hours of their life.
03. Use A Clean And Shallow Feeder
Use a clean and shallow feeder to offer the starter feed to the chicks.
Make sure the feeder is not too deep, as this can make it difficult for the chicks to reach the feed.
You can also use a chick feeder with a screen on top to prevent the chicks from scratching the feed out.
04. Keep The Feeder Filled With Fresh Feed
Check the feeder frequently and keep it filled with fresh feed.
Baby chicks eat small amounts of food frequently throughout the day.
Hence, it is essential to keep the feeder filled.
05. Gradually Transition To Grower Feed
As the chicks grow, gradually transition them from starter feed to grower feed, which has lower protein content.
It will provide them with the appropriate nutrition they need at different stages of their growth.
Food is essential for chickens for optimal growth and good health. As a conscious chicken keeper, you must know the ideal type and amount of food to feed at the right time.
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