Feeding the correct food to chooks is necessary to help chickens maintain a strong and healthy body. Plus, high-quality feed provides enough energy to let their various body parts function better. Chick starter feed is mainly fed to baby chicks that are recently hatched.
How long to feed chick starters? Chick starter feed is suitable for feeding baby chicks for 8 weeks. But it can be as low as 6 weeks for fast-growing breeds and as high as 12 weeks for slow-growing chickens. Factors like breed, growth rate, environmental conditions, approach to raising chickens, and stress levels will affect the duration of feeding starter feed.
How Long To Feed Chick Starter?
Most experts recommend continuing feed chick starter feed for up to 8 weeks on average. However, it can be as long as 12 weeks if your chooks are growing a bit slowly.
Besides, some chickens from a particular breed can start eating grower feed even after six weeks. They usually grow faster than regular chickens.
Before transiting to grow fee from starter feed, inspect their body conditions. They should gain a healthy weight, develop beautiful and thick feathers, and increase foraging behavior.
If you notice these signs in your younger chickens, you can start feeding grower feed.
What Factors Determine How Long To Feed Chick Starter?
It is necessary to determine how long to feed chick starter feed to younger chickens to ensure their optimal growth and development.
You should feed them as long as it is necessary to feed them. The followings are primary factors that will determine the duration of feed intake of chick starter feed.
Not all chickens are from the same breeds. Out of 34.4 billion chickens, more than 1600 recognized chicken breeds are worldwide.
Their body structure varies among them. Some chickens may become mature faster, whereas some may need additional weeks to be fully grown up.
This will affect the duration of feeding chick starter feed. Generally, younger chickens grow faster in their early stage of life.
As long as they are growing steadily for the first 6-12 weeks, you want to feed them this feed.
02. Growth Rate
Both fast-growing and slow-growing chickens are available in the world.
For example, Cornish Cross grows pretty fast. They take only 6-8 weeks to become fully grown up. This type of chook needs starter feed only for 4 to 6 weeks.
Another popular option is broiler chicken, which is known as the fastest-growing flock.
They become fully grown up within 6 to 7 weeks. You don’t need to feed them chick starter feed for too long.
On the contrary, Heritage breeds are known as slow-growing chickens. They often take double periods to become fully mature than regular chickens.
Rowan Range is another slow-growing breed. You can feed them chicken starter feed for up to 10 to 12 weeks. But make sure to take suggestions from a certified veterinarian.
03. Nutritional Requirements
Not all chickens need the same amount of nutrition. It will vary based on their genetics, physical structure, environmental conditions, activeness level, and many other factors.
For example, if you have hatched baby chicks during extremely colder months, you can continue feeding starter feed for one or two additional weeks.
Chicks need more protein during colder conditions to keep their body warm and improve their overall health.
Do your chickens engage in higher activities? If so, you can continue feeding starter feed for one or two additional weeks. After all, they burn a lot of energy while wandering around.
04. Stress Levels
Are your baby chooks exposed to various environmental stressors, such as noise, predators, or changes in routine?
If so, it can affect their potential growth and development. When the stress level is too high, baby chicks may not eat as much as they should.
In such as condition, it won’t be wrong to feed them chick starter feed for additional one or two weeks to compensate for potential growth delays.
05. Raising approach
How do you raise your younger chickens? Free-range chooks wander around and eat various natural foods, insects, vegetation, fruits, etc.
If younger flocks eat these natural foods from an early age, they receive a good amount of nutrition from outside sources.
Chooks have become used to eating various sizes and types of foods, including solid substances. Hence, you can shift to grower feed within 6-7 weeks.
Besides, some chicken owners give additional protein supplements and treats to their small chickens. This helps them to grow faster.
If you notice significant growth within a short period, you can shift to grower feed gradually.
What Happens If You Feed Chick Starter For Too Long?
Chick starter feed contains around 20% to 22% protein. Some options even have 23% protein.
They need a little bit more protein during the early stage to develop cells and muscles. It also makes their bone stronger and healthy.
But feeding highly protein-based feed for too long may lead to various health issues. Their kidney and liver may get affected by excessive consumption of protein.
Besides, chick starter feed contains high calories. This may result in excessive fat deposition, obesity, and associated health problems.
Overall, grownup chickens should not eat chick starter feed for too long as it has an imbalanced nutrition level as per their age.
What Happens If You Feed Chick Starter For Too Early?
It is necessary to feed chick starters for at least 6 to 8 weeks. You can’t shift to grow feed too early.
Grower feed contains lower levels of protein, amino acids, and phosphorus. This can negatively affect their potential growth level. Younger chickens may not grow as much as they should.
Besides, the digestive system of younger chickens is not as strong as adult chickens. Grower feed contains solid substances. They will struggle to peck, swallow, and digest them.
Sometimes, it may cause various health issues, such as choking, impaction, blockages, diarrhea, etc.
How To Transit From Chick Starter To Grower Feed?
Once you determine your younger chickens have reached their potential growth level within 7-8 weeks, you can shift to grower feed.
Avoid sudden transit to an entirely new food. Like other animals, chickens will take a little time to get used to it.
If you notice enough growth level within 6-7 weeks, add a small amount of grower feed in a separate container.
Don’t they like the food at all? If so, you can choose another grower brand from a different brand. Buy a small quantity to test their preference.
Once they start likely a particular option, gradually increase the proportion of grower feed while reducing the amount of chick starter feed.
Flocks may take one to two weeks to become fully adjusted to it. You can stop serving chick starter feed once their feed intake appears normal.
Points To Remember When Shifting From Chick Starter Feed To Grower Feed
You have already learned how long to feed chick starter feed. Transiting to grower feed at the right time is necessary. It should not be too early or too late.
The followings are the essential factors you should remember when shifting from chick starter feed to grower feed.
01. Track Down Their Age
Avoid keeping different ages of younger chickens together if they have a 2-3 weeks age gap.
Either keep them separately or mark their body so that they are easily recognizable.
This will help you to track down their age and introduce grower feed at the right time.
02. Monitor Their Feed Intake
Some baby chicks may not eat much compared to others. Monitor their feed intake.
A lack of consumption will cause slower growth. In such a case, you will have to feed them chick starter feed for additional one or two weeks.
But if your chooks have any health issues, it is necessary to take them to a certified veterinarian to figure out their problem.
03. Serve Clean And Fresh Water
Chickens drink 1.6 to 2.0 times higher than what they eat. Giving continuous access to clean and fresh water is necessary.
Water is necessary to digest food confidently. Chooks may reduce their feed intake if they struggle to digest the food.
It is best to serve water every morning as they may make the water pot dirty. It is more common when you serve water in an open-space container.
04. Serve Mashed Feed Initially
Baby chicks don’t have strong beaks to chew food. It is best to serve mashed starter feed initially.
This helps them to eat the food easily. Plus, it is convenient to absorb and digest for their body.
If you want to introduce crumbles after a few weeks, initially keep a lower quantity. Then, gradually increase it once your chooks become used to it.
05. Change The Chick Starter Feed
Do you love to eat the same food continuously for eight weeks? Surely not!
The same goes for chooks. Why not keep a variety in their feed routine?
You can buy starter feed from different brands. They come in various ingredients and flavors.
This will help you serve a more nutritionally balanced starter feed. But make sure to buy smaller quantities initially.
Chicks may not eat some options if you don’t like them. Buy larger quantities only those they liked it.
As a cautious chicken owner, you want to ensure the best-growing conditions for your feathered friends. This includes serving the right food at the right time in the right quantities.
I have discussed all the essential points regarding how long to feed chick starter feed. If you are raising various types of chicken breeds in the same coop, study their lifestyle.
It will help you make better decisions on how to take care of them. Make sure to switch grower feed at the right time based on their physical conditions and other attributes.