Chickens need specific diets at different stages of life. High-quality commercial feeds make sure that chickens get all the nutrients they need every day.
At six weeks of age, when your chicks (now becoming “pullets”) are done with their chick starter feed, a grower feed should be introduced. The grower feed I like to use, and my chickens seem to love more, is the Prairie’s Choice Non-GMO Backyard Chicken Feed from Amazon. This type of feed is meant to support growth until they reach adulthood.
Their grower feed should have around 14-16% protein and you should give this to your chickens until they start laying eggs (approximately 20 weeks old, depending on the breed).
If you want your hens to lay eggs, it’s very important for your chickens to get good nutrition throughout its first developmental stages. A poor diet can lead to health problems and delayed egg production.
Clean, fresh water is often a requirement that is ignored. For their size, chickens can drink an exceptional amount of water. But the main problem with chicks is that they dirty their water non-stop.
The quality of the water must be regularly observed and changed frequently because chicks will usually keep scratching the litter into the drinker and pooping in it.
It will help to lift the drinker slightly, but you should still change the water often. This becomes less of a problem once they get bigger because you can lift the drinkers and feeders higher above ground.
If you are a fan of nipple drinkers, they can be used with chicks if you guide them in how to use them. But, just to be safe, I would still put in a small regular drinker for several days while they get used to the nipple drinker.
I know we love to spoil our chickens, but too many treats are just as bad for them!
If you feed your chickens too many treats, they won’t be eating as much grower feed. They really need to focus on eating their grower feed at this point in their lives so that they can get the balanced diet they need.
Too many treats and a lack of proper nutrition can put their health at risk by stunting their ability to defend themselves against illness. It can also stunt growth, decrease their lifespan, and hinder future production of eggs.
At this point in their lives, I don’t give my chicks and pullets any treats at all. I stick to the grower feed to make sure they get all the nutrients they need to develop into healthy and productive chickens.
While chickens don’t need help digesting crumble and pellet feed, if you are to be giving your them some treats, they’re probably going to need grit to help digest this food. (The grit that I’m using now is the Manna Pro poultry grit from Amazon).
If you don’t know what grit is, it’s basically stuff like sand, dirt, and small rocks that chickens ingest to help digest unrefined foods like grains and fiber-rich treats. Coarse foods are ground in their gizzards with the help of grit.
If your chicks and pullets are foraging outside, they will instinctively eat bits of dirt and rocks. But if they’re not foraging, you’ll have to give them grit yourself if you’re giving them anything other than their grower feed.
Instead of me trying to figure out how much each chick and pullet needs to eat, I like to free-feed them. In this case, the chickens can eat small amounts of feed throughout the day. I trust that they know how much food they need to stay healthy.
My favorite feeder to use is Grandpa’s Feeders. I had trouble with wild birds and squirrels getting into my chickens’ feed and this feeder stopped this problem (although it doesn’t help against raccoons. That’s why I still like to have my PredatorGuards on at night). It’s also supposed to keep their food dry, but I still have mine under shelters. The feeder was a bit expensive, but it paid for itself because I’m not losing any more feed!