In this article, Nature’s Best Organic Feeds® will provide you with a guide to chicken feed; all the types, textures, and ingredients you may want to include in your feathered friends’ diets! Deciding what is the best chicken feed for your birds can depend on their age, their breed, their purpose – even their preferences. There are so many types of chicken feeds out there, and we know it can seem overwhelming. The good news is, we are here to help you through the process while enabling you to provide your flock with a premium product.
When raising baby chickens who have the purpose of laying eggs (or pullets, as they’re called before they begin laying), it’s important to ensure the feed provided is in crumble form (pellets are difficult for chicks to chew and digest at a young age) and has a higher protein content than the feed you’ll switch to after they begin laying eggs. Crumbles and pellets are types of feed texture. Did you know chickens do not have teeth? It’s recommended (especially if the chickens are indoor and not free-range) to supply supplemental grit because it serves as a way to mash up the feed like teeth would. When birds have access to the outdoors (free-range), grit is not as imperative to provide, because there are many things they can pick up in nature that will serve the same purpose. Another option is buying feed in mash form for young chicks, which is a third texture available with some brands, in addition to pellets and crumbles. Here at Kreamer Feed & Nature’s Best, we offer our bulk feed for farms in a mash option!
Nature’s Best Organic Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles are a 18% protein, and a perfect option for young and growing birds. They should be provided free-choice (meaning the food is always available to the birds, allowing them to graze as they wish). It is OK to supplement oyster shell or calcium chips free-choice from 15 weeks until the first eggs are laid; this can help supplement calcium during times when laying is frequent. When you see those first eggs, switch your flock to Nature’s Best Organic Egg Layer Pellets or Crumbles (both should also be provided free-choice). All products mentioned can easily be purchased online HERE (or in your closest Tractor Supply retail location)!
When raising chicks for the purpose of meat, we recommend the same diet mentioned above of Nature’s Best Organic Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles, but suggest switching your broiler flock to Nature’s Best Organic Broiler/Grower Pellets (free-choice) three weeks after they hatch.
There are many ways to feed your chickens, and poultryguide.com has some really great DIY ideas. Always make sure your waterers (also known as a “drinker”) and feeders (also known as a “hopper”) are away from any coop perches to prevent soiling. Many feeders are suspended from the coop ceiling, with the feed landing right around the birds’ shoulder in height.
Because pecking at each other can result from boredom (or in some cases, a lack of protein in the diet!), providing some kind of activity for the birds to occupy their time with is encouraged. We recommend Nature’s Best Organic Poultry Scratch Grains be provided in the run during the day! They’re a nutritious treat for the birds, to be given in addition to their complete feed. The grains encourage healthy eating patterns and give the birds something to do. Another way to entertain them is with pecking stones, which are made of relatively the same ingredients as our scratch grains, but formed into a tough block that the birds can peck at when bored (also called flock blocks, scratch blocks, and/or poultry blocks).
If you have any concerns regarding the health of your feathered friends, please do not hesitate to reach out to your closest poultry veterinarian. The largest veterinarian directory of chicken, duck, and other poultry is found HERE.
We hope this guide has helped shed light on some key necessities in the world of backyard chicken farming. We hope your coop brings you healthy birds, rich eggs, and happy family memories! If you are interested in organic, non-medicated, and Non-GMO chicken feed to treat your backyard chickens, contact us today or feel free to buy our feed at your local Tractor Supply Company!