If you decide to be a chicken farmer, you should know the different kinds of chicken feeds so you will know what to buy. To start with, these feeds depend on the age range of your chickens. Each of them is well-formulated to help chickens healthy and productive. Chicken feeds may have the same ingredients but they vary in proportions.
Feed manufacturers make sure that they have the right labels. If you feed your chickens with the wrong feed, they are likely to suffer from slow growth or serious illnesses. But in most cases, the effect is on egg production. Some hens may delay in laying their first eggs, while others may lay abnormal eggs. Below are the different types of feeds.
This kind of feed is specifically for baby chicks when they are now ready to eat and up to about 6 weeks of age. Ideally, starter feed has 18-20 percent protein which is the basic requirement for these tiny chickens. On the other hand, broiler chicks need about 22 percent protein, which they need to maximize their growth to become meat birds.
Once your chickens reach 6 weeks of age, you should switch them to grower feed. This type of feed usually has 15-16 percent protein, which is enough to help chickens grow into maturity faster. This is also to prepare them for egg production. Adolescent chickens need this feed until they are about to lay eggs or when they are 16 weeks of age.
Once your chickens start to lay eggs, they will need the extra calcium courtesy of layer feed so they can lay stronger eggs. Layer feed also contains about 16 percent protein, which is slightly lower than grower feed has. On the other hand, breeder feed is the same as layer feed except that they are for hens that will not only lay eggs but will also hatch them.
Closely monitor your hens while they are in the laying stage. If you notice that some of them got weak or slow down their egg production, they may lack calcium and the calcium content from layer feed is not enough for them. This is when you should give them oyster shells, which are the best sources of calcium for your egg-laying chickens.
Note, however, that only hens with calcium deficiencies need to be fed with oyster shells. But more importantly, don’t feed them to baby chicks, roosters, and older hens that are no longer laying eggs. Otherwise, they may suffer from abdominal obesity, kidney failure, and egg problems that have the same symptoms if they lack calcium.
Chicken grit is some pieces of small stones and is therefore not a feed. But because chickens are born without teeth, they need the grit to grind their food while they are inside their digestive system. Therefore, grit has no nutritional value at all. Chickens should eat grit if they are eating hard foods such as oyster eggs. Baby chicks should not be fed with grit.
Medicated Feed vs Unmedicated Feed
Medicated feed is a chicken feed that contains Amprolium, an organic compound that helps chickens be immune against the Coccidiosis disease. On the other hand, you can feed your chickens with the unmedicated feed if they have already been vaccinated when they were still baby chicks. These two varieties are usually available in the starter feed.