Initially, chicken owners used only to feed homemade food to chickens. But the conception of chicken feed dramatically changes from 1850 to 1950. Chicken keepers start feeding their flock commercialized feed to ensure a balanced diet with higher nutritional value.
When should I feed my chickens grower? Chickens should be fed grower feed once they become 6 weeks old. But you can continue serving starter feed for up to 8 weeks if their growth is a bit slower. Avoid introducing grower feed too early or too late.
When Should I Feed My Chickens Grower?
Chickens generally pass three life stages in their lifecycle: chick stage, growth stage, and layer stage.
Chick feed is for baby chicks, growing feed for teenage or growing chickens, and layer feed for chooks who are laying eggs or will lay eggs within one or two weeks.
|0-6 weeks (up to 8 weeks)
|Growing Or Teenage Chickens
|Chicken Grower Feed
|Chicken Layer Feed
Wondering how long should chickens be on grower feed? You should start feeding chicken grower feed once your chicken becomes 6 weeks old.
However, sometimes, it might be necessary to continue feeding chick feed for up to 8 weeks if their growth is a bit slower.
Faster Growing Chickens
For instance, Cornish Rock grows pretty fast. They are well known for higher meat products.
This chicken breed gains a mature weight within 6-8 weeks. Their average weight is 12 lbs within 8 weeks.
Red Rangers or Red Broilers are another fast-growing chicken breed. They gain a good weight within 12 – 14 weeks.
If you are raising fast-growing chickens, you don’t need to feed baby chicks for more than 6 weeks.
In fact, experts recommend feeding chick starter feed to Cornish Rock for not more than 5 weeks. After all, they grow incredibly fast.
Slow Growing Chickens
When you are raising slow-growing chickens, you can feed chicken grower feed for up to 8 weeks.
For example, Jersey Giants is a slow-growing chicken breed. It takes around 7-10 months to become fully mature.
Label Rouge, Heritage Breeds, Freedom Rangers, Poulet De Bresse, Kabir, etc., are some slow-growing chickens.
These chickens take more weeks to gain market weight. Their body can’t convert feed to muscle too fast like fast-growing chicken breeds.
Why Is It Necessary To Shift From Chick Starter To Grower Feed On Time?
As a conscious chicken keeper, you want to shift from chick starters to grower feed on time.
Here is why you should introduce grower feed just in time. We also wrote a separate article on the differences between starter feed and grower feed in detail.
01. Controlled Protein Levels
Chick starter feed contains 20% to 22% protein level. Sometimes, it can be up to 23%.
A higher protein level is necessary during the early stage to grow proper muscle and feathers.
But once chickens reach their teenage stage (6-8 weeks), you don’t need to feed to much protein.
In fact, feeding an excessive amount of protein may lead to various health issues, such as kidney and liver day.
Besides, excessive dietary protein from chick starter feed can cause skeletal disorders.
In contrast, teenage chickens already passed their molt phase. Feeding them 16% to 18% is enough.
02. Balanced Energy Content
Do you know younger chickens lose their body heat pretty much faster than adult chickens?
Baby chicks need more energy to maintain a constant internal temperature.
This is why chick starter contains higher energy content than grower feed to support their higher per-gram basal metabolic rate.
But chickens aged more than 6 weeks don’t need too much energy content as they don’t lose too fast.
In fact, feeding them starter feed for too long will lead to excessive weight gain.
What Happens If You Shift From Chick Starter To Grower Feed Too Early?
It is necessary to feed starter feed for at least 6 weeks. The duration can be up to 8 weeks for slow-growing chickens.
You can’t introduce grower feed to flocks too early. Starter feed contains a higher amount of protein that is necessary to grow faster.
It helps them develop muscles and bones as well as connective tissue,
Start feed has an increased concentration of nutrients to help them with major transformation by fulfilling crucial nutritional needs.
But grower feed contains less protein. Feeding them grower feed too early can limit their potential growth.
Less Weight Gain
Proteins help chickens to gain weight. A lowered protein level can limit their weight significantly.
Chickens may not gain as much weight as they should. They will take an additional period to reach the market weight.
In many cases, they may not gain their maximum potential due to not feeding enough protein and other nutrients during the early stage.
Poor Physical Abilities
Have you hatched chicken eggs during the winter months? Baby chicks are afraid of cold stress.
You need to keep them in a comfortable condition during the excessive winter days.
If you introduce grower feed too early during the winter months, it may affect their overall health.
Chicks’ bodies may not stay warm enough to feel comfortable enough.
Younger chickens generally feel comfortable eating mash-type starter feed. They are easy to consume, absorb, and digest due to their soft and tiny shape.
But grower feed usually comes in crumble or pallet form. The digestive system of a baby chick is not as strong as teenage chicken.
If you introduce grower feed too early, their weak digestive system will struggle to absorb the food.
Feeding large-sized and hard food for several weeks may cause blockage. Besides, you may see crop impaction, sour crop, impacted gizzard, etc.
What Happens If You Shift From Chick Starter To Grower Feed Too Late?
The introduction of grower feed from chick starters should not be too fast or early.
When your feathered friends are growing naturally well, you might be thinking of continuing grower feed for several additional weeks.
The followings are the common issues your chooks are going to face if you feed them for an extended period.
Pretty Fast Growth
Are you thinking of continuing feeding starter feed for more than 8 weeks? You can do it only if your chickens grow too much more slowly than regular ones.
If you notice normal growth, it is best to introduce grower feed at the right time.
Otherwise, chooks may grow too fast. You may think that growing faster is good. But unfortunately, it is not a healthy and natural process.
It can put excessive strain on their bones and joints. They may not move, walk, or run comfortably.
Feeding chick feed for too long can also cause various health issues.
For example, a high protein intake affects regular kidney function. It increases the uric acid levels in the kidneys.
If chickens are fed high dietary protein for a long time, it can damage their kidney structures over time.
Besides, too much protein intake can harm the liver as it has to work even harder to convert protein into usable amino acids and triglycerides.
Some of them might be deposited in the liver and affect the normal function of the liver.
Excessive Weight Gain
Gaining is necessary for baby chicks. But the weight gain journey should be moderate.
Consuming too much protein from starter feed can cause excessive weight gain.
Feeding starter feed for more than 8 weeks may cause excessive weight gain.
It may cause various health problems, such as joint issues, cardiovascular strain, decreased mobility, etc.
How To Introduce Chicken Grower Feed?
Some chicken keepers completely stop feeding chick starter feed suddenly. Most chooks will feel uncomfortable eating them all of a sudden.
Chickens can take around 7 to 10 days to get adjusted to a feed. Hence, adding a small amount of grower feed is best initially in a separate container.
Chooks will eat the grower feed for two reasons: 01) as a part of curiosity and 02) not feeling full enough from chick starter feed.
You can increase the proportion gradually. Make sure to buy a small amount of initial and monitor their feeding habit.
Flocks may don’t like them. You may need to shift to another grower feed from a different brand.
Tips For Shifting From Chick Starter To Grower Feed
- Maintain a consistent feeding schedule to ensure your feathered friends have enough nutrition every day.
- Don’t feed the same grower feed for too long. Maintain some variations. They will love it. Most importantly, chooks will get a balanced nutrition level.
- Buy grower feed from a reliable brand. Check out the product level carefully. It should not contain any harmful ingredients. Opt for natural options, even if it is a bit pricey.
- Provide enough fresh and clean water along with the chicken feed. Clean the water pot at least twice a week, as dirt and food residues get inside it easily.
- Add 20% of grower feed and 80% of chick start after six weeks. Increase the proportion gradually to make them adjust to the feed.
- Make sure the protein level of the grower feed is not more than 18% and less than 16%.
Chickens don’t need the same food in all phases of their life. Introducing the right food at the right time will ensure optimal growth and keep them healthy.
It is essential to feed starter feed for 6 weeks. Once they have a good growth level, you can start feeding them grower feed.
Make sure to go through the product level carefully to ensure it doesn’t contain any harmful substances. Some brands add poisonous ingredients that can harm chooks in the long run.
Hopefully, you got a clear idea regarding when I feed my chicken grower. Let me know if you still have any questions regarding this topic. I always strive to help my readers!