What Do I Feed My Chickens After Chick Starter? (Poultry Food: A Look at Feeding Chicks, From Starter Feed to Grower Feed + What Chicken Feed To Give Hens)

How Do I Transition From Chick Starter To Layer Feed?

When your chickens are between chick starter and layer feed, you need to change their feed to grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon).

This food comes in pellets and crumbles, with the latter being my favorite because I find my baby chicks and younger chickens have an easier time eating it.

Grower feed is a complete diet for pullets* and provides all the nutrients they need for weight gain and muscle growth.

They are also easy to digest and have a higher protein content (about 17%) than layer feed, which is important for growing pullets.

If you’re looking for an alternative to commercial feeds, you can also make your own. However, there are many reasons to buy chicken feed instead of making your own.

First, it’s more convenient. You can buy a bag of chicken feed and store it, so you don’t have to make it fresh every day.

Additionally, unless you really know how to make wholesome chicken feed from scratch, high-quality commercial feeds are typically more nutritious. They’re formulated to provide all the nutrients chickens need to stay healthy.

*Pullets are hens that are less than a year old.

Warning: Switching Feeds

The sudden alterations in diet can affect the population of helpful microflora in the gut, influencing the digestive system.

When switching to a different type of feed, slowly start mixing increasing amounts of the new feed into the old over the course of 7 to 10 days.

When Should I Switch To Grower Feed?

There are a few things to consider before making the switch to grower feed (also sometimes called developer feed).

First, check the package of your chicken feed to see when the manufacturer recommends switching from starter to grower. This is generally around 8 weeks of age but can vary depending on the brand.

Second, pay attention to your chickens’ appetites and energy levels. If they seem to be growing quickly and eating more than usual, it may be time to switch them to grower feed.

Finally, take a look at your chickens’ feathers. If they are starting to get longer and their plumage is looking good, they are likely ready for grower feed.

How Long Should Chickens Be on Grower Feed?

Most growers recommend switching to a layer feed (Amazon) when your hens are about 18 weeks old or when they laid their first egg (whichever one comes first).

Layer feed contains less protein and more calcium, which is necessary for laying eggs. The extra calcium in layer feed will also help keep your chicken’s bones strong and healthy.

However, I also recommend having some crushed oyster shells (Amazon) available to supplement the layer feed. Just make sure you don’t mix the crushed oyster shells with the feed. Hens will only eat the oyster shell if they need extra calcium.

Can Full-Grown Chickens Eat Chick Starter?

It’s OK to give adult chickens some medicated or non-medicated chick starter/grower feed. This is especially helpful if you have to finish a bag of feed (who wants to waste feed?) or you’re feeding a flock of chickens in different dietary stages.

That being said, laying hens will need to have access to crushed oyster shells throughout the day (or another type of calcium supplement) so they can get enough calcium in their diet for their own health and to produce the best eggs.

Also, if you have broiler chickens (also known as meat birds), they really require poultry feed with around 19-24% protein (Amazon) as their main meal.

Laying Hens, Eggs & Medicated Feed

It’s OK to eat eggs from hens who consumed medicated commercial feed, which contains amprolium?

Yes, you can consume eggs from hens who ate medicated feed, which contains amprolium. The amount of amprolium that is transferred to the egg is very minimal and poses no threat to human health.

In fact, amprolium is commonly used as a treatment for coccidiosis in poultry. There is no need to worry about consuming eggs from hens who have been treated with this medication.

Conclusion: Feeding Chickens After Chick Starter

Feeding your chickens the proper feed ensures that they’re getting vital nutrients. Chicken feed is even more important if your chickens don’t have much outdoor space because they won’t be able to get minerals and salt from foraging.

Please make sure you get the right type of quality feed for your chickens. For example:

  • 0 to 8 Weeks Old (Chicks): Their diet should contain around 18-19% protein. You should feed chick starter (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon).
  • 8 to around 18 Weeks Old (Pullets): Their diet should contain around 17-18% protein. You should feed them a high-quality grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) until they’re 18 weeks old or they start laying, whichever comes first.
  • 18 Weeks or Above (Egg-Layers): Once chickens start laying eggs, they require around 16% protein in their feed. You should feed your hens layer feed (Amazon) to help them in their egg-laying.
  • Broiler Chickens (Chickens Raised for Meat): These types of chickens require a higher-level protein feed (Amazon) for maximum growth (approx. 19%-24%).
  • Mixed Flock: Feed starter grower feed (Amazon) and oyster shells (Amazon) should be made available, in a separate bowl or feeder. If egg-laying eggs need extra calcium, they will eat the appropriate amount of oyster shells. Do not feed extra calcium to non-laying poultry as it can be detrimental to their health.

I suggest that you only buy as much feed as you think your chickens will eat within a couple of weeks. This is so the feed doesn’t go stale.

Storing feed in a cool place and in a closed container, like a galvanized steel can with a locking lid (Amazon), slows the rate at which it gets stale. Of course, you can stretch the storage time during cold weather.