Types of Chicken Feed
Similar to standard feed, mixed corn poultry feed is a grain mix made up primarily of maize and wheat. It’s primarily used as a treat rather than as the main food source.
Pellets are probably the most common type of feed on the market, as they take all the goodness of standard chicken feed and then process it into pellet shapes. This makes them easier to manage and their compact shape reduces mess and leftover waste.
Chicken feed mash is exactly what it sounds like and is simply a big bag of ground-up (mashed) grains and other ingredients. This is mostly marketed at chicks and very young chickens as it’s much easier for them to gobble this up. The downside to mash is that a lot of it goes to waste on the ground. To combat this, many owners like to ferment mash by serving it wet, making it thicker in texture and easier to manage.
Crumble is just the midway point between pellets and mash and is essentially just slightly ground up pellets. This just gives chicks an easier eating opportunity without creating as much mess as mash!
Similar to suet balls you might put out for garden birds, you do on occasion see high energy balls being marketed at chickens too! These are obviously a lot easier to manage in terms of preventing waste products and their structure means they often have good longevity and can survive bad weather.
Your Chicken’s Stage Of Growth
When shopping for chicken feed, you are almost certain to come across hundreds of products described as layer’s feed, to the point where you may just assume this is the most popular form of chicken food and a great choice for your hens.
But layer is actually referring to a stage of growth in a chicken’s life and to be less confusing, it essentially just means adult. You, therefore, need to pay more attention to the labels if you are caring for chickens of varying ages and make sure they are getting food more tailored for their personal growth.
If you give chickens the wrong feed for their stage of growth, they’ll miss out on key nutrients they need to grow healthy and thrive.
The three stages of chicken feed are these:
Unsurprisingly, starter feed is what you should be feeding baby chicks as adult chicken feed does not contain the correct balance of food groups they need to grow into healthy chickens. Starter feed tense to be much denser in proteins to promote growth.
This is the optimum choice for teenage chooks (4 – 17 weeks of age), grower feed helps move chicks on from starter feed by lowering the protein level and without the calcium content of a regular adult feed. This is because growing teenage hens don’t need all the vitamins and minerals that are in adult food, as they aren’t laying eggs and so don’t need the vitality-boosting ingredients designed to boost egg health.
This is the final stage of chicken food and will be the primary seed you use for the majority of your hen’s life. It is most often a completely balanced mix of proteins, calcium, vitamins, minerals and any other added ingredients which might encourage strong, colourful and healthy eggs
What To Look For In Chicken Food
When browsing chicken food you will often be met with a dilemma you are often faced with when making decisions for your own diet – should you go organic or not?
Organic as you might expect merely means feed that is free of any genetically modified (GM) additives, chemicals, man-made ingredients etc. and uses only natural ingredients.
This is obviously the most healthy choice for your bird but due to how particular and strenuous creating organic feed is, it’s also a lot more expensive!
Basic Feed Requirements
In most cases chicken feed will be your birds only source of nutrition, meaning their feed needs to be able to offer high-quality nourishment, especially if you want a hen to lay healthy and strong eggs.
But how are you meant to know if your feed contains the right ingredients to boost rooster vitality and wellbeing?
Well, the main components you want to watch out for are these:
Just like with most animals on this planet, protein is an absolute must for helping chickens stay strong and energised, with most feeds being particularly high in this food group.
If your feed does not actually list the term amino acids, look out for common ones like lysine and methionine in the ingredients list. Amino acids are vital in helping hens grow and function properly and are seen as essential for most animal diets.
We humans know all about the importance of vitamins and minerals, and chickens need them in their diet just as much as we do! Vitamins A, E, D3 and B12 as well as trace elements such as phosphorus and copper sulfate are all good for your flock.
These help with digestion of your bird and natural fibre in grains also help to do this too.
Other Ingredients To Watch Out For
Omega 3 Oils
If you are raising laying hens, your feed is often entirely revolved around ensuring their eggs are strong and healthy to eat. Omega 3 in feed is often passed through to an egg’s own Omega 3 count, enhancing your product.
For laying hens, you want eggs to be as strong as possible, as there’s nothing more upsetting or annoying than a fragile and easily broken egg. Plenty of calcium boosting ingredients can help strengthen these eggs up, as well as improve the bone health of your chicken!