Feeding your Chickens
The most convenient way of feeding chickens is with a balanced pelleted feed, whether the birds are confined indoors or allowed to range outdoors. Their diet should contain corn for energy, soybean-type meal for protein, with vitamin and mineral supplements.
Commercial poultry feeds often contain antibiotics and arsenicals to promote health and improve growth, coccidiostats for combating coccidiosis, and sometimes mould inhibitors. However, it is possible to obtain unmedicated feed - check feed labels to see if they contain feed additives.
Chickens are picky nibblers and make frequent trips to the feeder for small meals, which requires energy. Pelleted feeding reduces the amount of energy required for a bird to feed and reduces waste, whereas using a 'mash' feed needs more energy and consequently more food.
If the bird is eating a fibrous diet, grit such as poultry flint grit should be supplied to aid the grinding up of coarse feed in the gizzard. Industry birds usually don't use grit because the diet is low in fibre. Outdoor free-ranging birds also pick up small stones naturally to do this job.
Different levels of proteins in the feed are used depending on age of bird. Starter rations (Baby Chick Crumb) are high in protein - an expensive feed ingredient. However, growers rations can be slightly lower in protein since older birds require less. A starter diet is about 24% protein, grower diet 20% protein, and finisher diet 18% protein. Layer diets generally have about 16% protein. Special diets are available for broilers, pullets, layers, and breeders.
Whole grains, like a mixed corn feed, should also be provided as scratch grains i.e. scattered on the ground say, twice a day.
Access to clean water at all times is important.