Chickens are great companions. Aside from providing fresh eggs, they are wonderful family animals and can even improve the health of your lawn and garden. Best of all, baby chicks are low maintenance and can help reduce leftover waste in your kitchen.
A baby chicks’ diet is extremely versatile, but there are some foods to rethink before throwing them into the coop. Here, we’ll outline what to feed baby chicks, the nutrient-dense foods they love and the leftovers to keep in your compost pile.
If you and your family are considering purchasing baby chicks of your own or recently bought them and want to learn more about them, here are some benefits of raising chickens at home:
Young chickens require a more nutrient-dense diet than their adult counterparts, and it’s important they get the right balance of nutrients. Here’s what baby chicks eat and the food’s nutritional value:
Baby chicks’ feed should provide at least 90% of their nutrition, with the remaining 10% from their pasture. On top of their feed, poultry requires a constant source of water. Chickens drink almost three times their weight in water. A good water-to-chicken ratio is one quart per four chickens.
If you want to know what homemade foods to feed baby chicks, consider incorporating these nutrient-rich foods:
Chickens are biologically inclined to peck the dirt for worms, which they love to eat. You can provide both red worms and mealworms to baby chicks for a good source of protein. Do so in moderation to prevent overwhelming their system.
In addition to worms, chickens can eat many different types of bugs and insects, including crickets! These insects provide plenty of nutrients to your chickens, such as essential carbs, fats, and protein. With baby chicks, be sure to give this delicious snack in moderation.
Your baby chicks will love to eat tomatoes, and they contain plenty of essential vitamins like vitamin K, fiber, potassium, folic acid, and antioxidants. However, they cannot eat the plants, leaves, or flowers on the tomatoes because they contain a poisonous substance called solanine. Be sure to clear off any of the leaves before tossing your tomatoes into their coop!
Oats are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that your baby chicks need. They can have both cooked, warm oatmeal or raw oats from time to time. You can even add plain yogurt or birdseed to the oatmeal for added nutrients.
Baby chicks love to eat fruit, especially strawberries. Strawberries contain many minerals and vitamins, such as potassium, Vitamin B, copper, iron, and magnesium. This fruit is also a great source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants for your baby chicks.
If you have any brown, spotty bananas, your baby chicks will gladly eat them for you! Baby chicks can eat bananas, but avoid feeding them any unripe bananas. Bananas are high in Vitamin B6 and pyridoxine and a good source of magnesium, copper and healthy carbs.
Baby chicks can eat apples, but you should chop them up and remove any seeds for easier consumption and digestion. Apple sauce is another good apple alternative for chick food. Apples are a good source of carbs and contain fiber, potassium and Vitamin K, too.
You can feed certain types of lettuce to your baby chicks, including turnip greens, chard, and kale. Romaine lettuce is particularly nutritious for your baby chicks as it’s high in potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, folate, and Vitamin K. Be sure to avoid giving them iceberg lettuce as it may give your chicks diarrhea.
While baby chicks cannot consume watermelon seeds or rinds, they can eat the inside of the fruit. On days that are especially hot, like during the summer, your baby chicks will love to peck at the cool, fresh fruit for extra hydration and flavor. Otherwise, watermelons provide fewer essential nutrients than chick food.
Adult hens typically peck through grass for insects and eat any smaller pieces of grass. Usually, day or week-old chicks won’t show much interest in eating grass. Some owners give their chicks the option, however, because it encourages foraging.
Some of your groceries, however, are best left for your compost pile. Foods that baby chickens cannot eat include:
All of these foods contain different toxins that make baby chicks, and all other poultry, feel sick — or even cause death in extreme cases. Most chickens instinctively avoid these toxic foods. If your baby chicks do consume these toxins and you notice illness symptoms, give them plenty of access to electrolytes and extra nutrients. Chickens heal themselves over time in less severe cases.
Despite what many people may think, baby chicks don’t usually need to drink or eat the first day or so after hatching, but here are some things you can do if you have a chick that appears weak:
The best food you can give your baby chicks is organic chicken starter feed. The foods listed above are healthy for chicks — and you’re encouraged to recycle any leftovers — but they may receive too many or too little nutrients.
Organic chicken starter feed is packed with essential nutrients like:
Opting for organic chicken starter feed over non-organic alternatives ensures your baby chicks receive non-medicated and non-GMO nutrients. Natural feeds contain little to no cheap filler products, giving you more nutrients for your money and your chickens a healthier lifestyle.
Baby chickens are good at eating what they need. Ensure your chicks have a constant supply of organic chicken starter feed and refill their supply as needed.
Because baby chicks and adult chickens require different amounts of nutrients, it’s best to separate them until the chicks are at least 2 months old. Plus, older chickens tend to be aggressive with smaller chicks, sometimes bullying them away from food. Keep an eye on every chick and make sure they’re all getting an equal share of chick food.
Kreamer Feed believed in organic food well before the grocery chains. Since 1998, we have been the leading certified organic feed manufacturer — best known for our brand, Nature’s Best Organic Feeds.
If you’re looking for the best feed for your baby chicks, choose our high-protein organic chick starter. Our chicken feed is packed with essential nutrients, perfect for your growing backyard animals and baby chicks.