10 Chicken-Feeding Facts
Here Are the Essentials for Feeding Your Poultry Flock
By Tiffany Towne, Nutrena Poultry Expert
Some say chickens are simple animals. We say they are amazing! Like humans, though, a wholesome diet can make a big difference. Practicing these 10 nutritional must-knows will help keep your flock flourishing.
#1: Nom, nom, nom!
Full-grown chickens will consume about 1.5 pounds of chicken feed each week. But what’s more interesting is that a chick may consume one pound every week to support its rapid growth.
#2: Two cups of water
An average laying hen will consume two cups of water each day. Offer fresh, clean water on a daily basis to help your girls keep up with their daily nutrition needs.
Scratch grains should only be used as a treat for your flock. Keep scratch grain supplementation to no more than 10 percent of a chicken’s diet. If fed more, it can reduce the amount of protein consumed on a daily basis. Protein is an essential part of growth and egg production.
#4: What’s in a bag?
Four of the most common ingredients in poultry feed include soybean meal, canola meal, corn, and wheat midds. Not sure what wheat midds are? Wheat midds, short for middlings, are an excellent source of energy, protein, and fiber, and come from the wheat milling process.
#5: Four months
This is the length of time a chick needs to be fed nutritious chick starter.
At the conclusion of those 16 weeks, switch them to a layer feed such as Nutrena’s NatureWise Layer Feed to suit their growing nutritional needs.
“When in doubt, put it out.” That’s the advice from experts on grit. Because chickens do not have teeth, grit (which is essentially small pebbles) ends up in the gizzard and help digest food. Free-choice grit, as well as crushed oyster shells, allows self-regulation by your flock. Grit should be fed starting at six weeks.
#7: Speaking of oyster shells
Did you know that laying hens require three times the calcium of non-laying hens? It makes sense, since 97 percent of eggshells are calcium carbonate. This fact makes it important to consider a layer feed that includes adequate calcium and to offer free-choice crushed oyster shells.
#8: Power the good
Selecting poultry feed that is balanced and the correct ration will provide prebiotics and probiotics that power good microbial activity in a chicken’s gut, and supplements beneficial bacteria to support digestion.
#9: Keep a balance
Like humans, a chicken’s digestive system can become upset from time to time. Common disruptions may be due to diet changes, extreme temperatures, dirty or lack of water, molting, transportation or handling, using antibiotics, or stress.
$10: Waste not!
The bi-product of feeding chickens (chicken waste) makes excellent garden fertilizer after being aged in a compost pile for some time.
Find a Nutrena dealer near you at www.NutrenaPoultryFeed.com, subscribe to the Nutrena poultry blog at ScoopFromTheCoop.com, and sign up for Flock Minder at www.FlockMinder.com to receive timely tips delivered directly to your inbox.