Feeding your chickens quality feed is the way to achieve healthy, happy, productive hens. What you put in is what you get out!
These days most poultry need to eat a specially formulated diet to ensure they are getting the correct balance of protein to fat to carbohydrates with added minerals and vitamins suited to the age of the bird. Today the commercially made feeds are specially tailored to the needs of each age and manufactured to the highest levels of production. When purchasing poultry feed it is very important to look at the ingredients (written on the bag) and at the analysis which will give the breakdown of fat to protein to carbohydrates.
One of the key ingredients to look for is what type of protein is in the feed you are buying. We recommend animal protein as the best type of protein to feed your chooks. Chickens are not vegetarians! They love eating meat. Chooks will forage for insects, slugs and worms and they will strip the meat off bones, catch mice and eat your dinner leftovers to get their protein. Look for ruminant protein (meat & bone meal and blood meal) as your key protein ingredients and these need to be at least 16% preferably 18% for optimum production. 16% is the minium requirement of crude protein in commercial layer feed to meet the needs of a laying hen. Feeding out pellets is better than mash. Pellets we have found to be less wasteful and easier for the birds to pick up and swallow. Commercial poultry feed has a shelf life of around 12 weeks so best to buy more regularly than than in bulk. One bag at a time. Chooks don’t like stale feed. Don’t chop and change your brand, chooks like routine and get used to what they eat. Keep them on the same quality feed otherwise you could upset their laying routine.
Feed out ad lib using a step-on or suspension feeder. Chickens eat when hungry and are not prone to ‘pig out’ like puppies would. On average a laying hen eats 120 to 140 grams a day. Purchasing a purpose-made chicken feeder and drinker is a good idea as in the long run it will save money. Using open dishes and flat trays to feed out only wastes feed as chooks love to flick and scratch feed everywhere. Chooks are wasteful and messy feeders so investing in a decent suspension feeder (hung at right height like a mini-food bar) or step-on feeder (best placed in the run) is a worthwhile investment. The step-on chicken feeders are in our opinion the best value as they give your birds access to feed all day and prevent mice and sparrows from helping themselves and soiling the contents. The automatic step-on feeders come in a range of sizes so best to get one suitable for your size and number of chooks. If you need any help choosing the right feeder talk to us. Wheat and maize should be feed out only as a treat feed and should not make up more than 10% of their diet. Feed out this carbo snack late afternoon when you go to have some time-out with your chooks. Kitchen and vegetable garden scraps can be feed out but just as a supplement to their main feed which will be the layers pellets (90%). Never feed out more kitchen scraps than they can eat in 10 minutes.
Day old and young chicks will need to be fed chick crumble. This is a high protein crumble designed to grow the chicks well. Most chick crumble is medicated and contain a coccidiostat for the prevention of coccidiosis. We recommend feeding out chick crumble up to POL (point of lay) as it is the best feed nutritionally for growing pullets. Growing good, strong healthy birds will produce good strong healthy layers. When pullets are at POL then switch over to premium layer pellets. We recommend the Westons peak layer pellets. These pellets are specially formulated to give your laying birds all they need to lay eggs for you. Please do not feed layers mash or layers pellets to chicks or growing chickens as the high levels of calcium cannot be easily excreted and will damage the kidneys of the young birds. So when you next go to buy a bag of feed for your chooks – remember to look at the label, go for an animal protein preferably around 18%. Feed your chooks well it is worth it! We cannot stress enough how important it is to feed your bird correctly.