Lauren Arcuri Ware runs a small farm and family homestead on 25 acres in Vermont. Her experience includes raising chickens for eggs and meat, growing vegetables, harvesting apples, keeping bees, and canning, freezing, drying, pickling, and preserving food. She’s covered those topics for The Spruce for seven years.
The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak
If you’re just getting started keeping laying hens or meat poultry on your small farm, you may be wondering what chickens eat to maintain their health. It helps to know the best diet you can provide for your chickens and poultry when they’re roaming and foraging outside in a pasture or a run.
The Typical Chicken Diet
Chickens rummage for earthworms, insects, and slugs of all kinds to eat. You may even see a rooster catch a mouse to feed his hens. However, most poultry also like to eat the tips and seeds of the following growing grasses and weeds:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Broad-leaved weeds, such as dandelions
A little grit, like sand, gravel, and coarse dirt, is important to poultry. They keep it in their gizzards to help them grind up the wild foods they forage.
What to Feed Chickens on the Farm
Birds raised for meat and poultry kept for eggs require different diets. Typically, backyard and small farm chickens raised for eggs can eat appropriate food scraps from the farm household in addition to feed. Meat birds raised indoors or on a pasture are small, but voracious eaters, and require mostly high-protein feed to reach top weight efficiently. The feed needs to be monitored to help the birds avoid overeating, which could lead to fatalities. You’ll also need to determine whether to vaccinate your meat birds to be able to give them non-medicated feed. Meat birds raised outdoors in a pasture eat a more rounded and healthier diet by foraging on plants, insects, and small animals in addition to feed.
Unfortunately, all chickens think non-food items, such as Styrofoam, are edible, and some munch on the pine shavings of their litter, so you’ll also need to make sure they don’t eat what they’re not supposed to.
Kitchen Scraps: What Can Chickens Eat?
Besides the main feed, there are quite a few kitchen scraps that pastured chickens (not raised for meat) can gobble up. There are also certain foods from the kitchen which are dangerous for poultry to eat. Here’s what chickens and hens love to eat from the kitchen:
- Beef and pork scraps (including gristle, tendons, and fat)
- Cooked rice and pasta
- Cooked vegetables
- Dairy such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese
- Eggshells and oyster shells (for calcium)
- Fats and oils (congealed to pudding texture)
- Fish and fish skin (but avoid bones)
- Fresh fruits (apples, grapes, and bananas to name a few)
- Stale bread and crackers (avoid moldy items)
- Wilted salad greens
Though poultry love fresh fruit, they typically avoid eating citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit.
Here’s what you should avoid feeding your poultry:
- Chicken scraps (can spread disease through cannibalism)
- Coffee or coffee grinds
- Peels from potatoes or citrus fruits
- Processed foods
- Salt (pure)
- Soft drinks
Raw potatoes can be poisonous to chickens due to glycoalkaloids.
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The Spruce / Brianna Gilmartin
Should you pasture your chickens or provide a chicken run? Any outdoor time for chickens will create healthier, more relaxed poultry. Whether you pasture or provide a run depends on the space you have for your chickens.
Benefits of Pasturing
Hens that are raised primarily on pasture with a healthy diet produce eggs that boast bouncy, deep orange yolks and thick, viscous whites. If you are raising meat birds primarily on pasture, you should be aware that they will not grow as quickly as those confined and fed broiler rations. The meat is dense from the exercise they get (yet still tender) and their omega-3 content is higher than their grain-fed, sedentary counterparts.
Pasturing requires more elements to keep the chickens protected from predators, including a livestock guardian dog and/or fencing.
Benefits of a Run
If you can’t pasture your chickens but can let them have access to a run (a fenced-in area outside the coop, which will also need to be protected from predators), they will be happier and will be able to get some supplemental insects, even if the floor of the run gets pecked down to bare dirt. They will also be able to sun bathe and dust bathe which are natural and relaxing behaviors.
You can hard boil and chop eggs (or scramble them) and feed them to the chickens if you run out of feed. Remember, they can also go a day or two without feed, and longer without experiencing any real issue as long as they are eating general kitchen scraps. Of course, always make sure they have water to digest food and feed.
Wash, dry, then grind calcium-rich eggshells before feeding to your chickens and hens.
Make or Buy Your Feed
You may wish to design, buy, and mix your own feed, or even grow all the grains, seeds, and other components of a comprehensive chicken feed. There are several different commercial feed choices with different purposes for each one. Some of the specifics differ. For example, one manufacturer may have you switch to grower/finisher at a different number of weeks, a suggestion that may differ from another supplier. Always follow the directions of your specific feed and check with your feed supplier or store when in doubt.
The most common meat chicken, known as a broiler, is the Cornish Cross (a hybrid Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chicken). This type of bird grows rapidly and efficiently for the best meat production.
Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops
Last Updated: 26 June 2020
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Like all newborns, baby chicks need special attention. Chicks need egg-cellent nutrition to equip them to travel the journey from chick to fully feathered adult. From down to feathers, from peeps to clucks, from an almost imperceptible nub on the top of their heads to pretty red combs, a chicken undergoes the biggest and most rapid transformation from the day they hatch up until about eight weeks old when they are almost at three quarters of their adult weight. That’s quite egg-straordinary, I know! So, what type of fuel do these amazing critters need for this awe inspiring journey? Let’s stake a “peck” and egg-splore the nutritional needs of baby chicks!
First things first, a baby chick needs access to fresh clean water at all times. Water plays a key role in a baby chick’s overall health and wellbeing by aiding most of its bodily functions. Chicks and mature chickens alike consume approximately double the amount of water as compared to feed and therefore, a lack of it can seriously affect a chick’s health.
For starters, to get a jump-start in life, chicks begin by pecking at Chick Starter! Chick Starter contains all the essential nutrients a chick needs to grow and develop into either an egg-cellent egg layer or a robust cock-a-doodler! Typically, a chick will eat a starter mix up until eight weeks old; however, many commercial brands now sell chick starter as Chick Starter/Grower and it is fed up until Point of Lay in hens or at sixteen to eighteen weeks for the young gentlemen. A great alternative to commercial chick starter is a wonderful concoction of two staple ingredients; eggs and oatmeal. Simply, hard boil some eggs, mash them up and mix with oatmeal. Although, if you are raising a large number of fuzzy little chicks, feeding commercial starter is a wise choice and is available at most farm supply centers.
As with humans, accurate nutrition in these early stages is essential to ensure your chick’s growth. Even the smallest inaccuracies in these early stages could cause them serious health issues and even death. To become confident and learn all there is to know about raising healthy happy chicks into egg-laying hens, visit Chickenpedia. They have a comprehensive course that will give you step-by-step instructions at every step of the way. I highly recommend them to all my readers.
The anatomy of chick starter begins with a most necessary nutrient-protein. Next to water, protein, both plant and animal, is the second most essential nutrient for young chicks. This star body builder stimulates the growth of muscles, tissues and organs-it’s basically what makes your wee ones grow. Feel free to offer your young chicks some small worms plucked after a spring or summer shower-nature’s homemade protein! Carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins and minerals make up the rest of the cast of nutrients needed by your ever growing wee chooks. Rest assured, though, in the fact that commercial chick starter comprises everything a baby chick needs to mature into a lovely hen or dapper rooster.
Whilst I can give you some knowledge you get you started, it’s our friends over at Chickenpedia that can give you a fully comprehensive guide to raising baby chickens. They cover everything you need, from food & water to temperature and vaccinations, so you can experience all the triumphs and avoid disasters with these precious little fluffballs.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty matter of offering your baby chicks grit. Do baby chicks or growing young chicks need grit? Basically, if your babies are only eating starter, then they really don’t need added grit. If however, you begin adding supplemental foods such as kitchen scraps and treats, then a little bit o’ grit is necessary to aid digestion. Grit is egg-actly what it sounds like-minute pieces of earth, stone, and sand. If you live in a nice temperate climate, and your babies are out and about much of the time, they will most likely “peck up” sufficient grit to balance out their diet.
Do you give your baby chicks shell grit? Tell us in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.
An alternative to commercial chick starter, is to simply make your own baby chicken food. Although this choice provides you with the knowledge and peace of mind that your babies are getting egg-actly and only what you put into it, it is a complex process and can be difficult attempting to purchase all the necessary ingredients and then measuring out the egg-act quantities.
There really are no guidelines as to the amount of feed to offer baby chicks. Being the “always hungry” ravenous little critters that they are, it’s just fine to keep their feeders filled and at the ready. They will peck and peck until their little bodies let them know they’ve reached their fill. Then, being the egg-spert little poopers that they are, they’ll poop it right out again. Uh, oh…time to clean the bedding, yet again! Such is the life of a chicken keeper-aren’t you the lucky clucky one! Ha Ha
Oh and… I should also mention, click here to check out Chickenpedia. As a member, you will get access to the Ultimate Chicken Health Course. I highly recommend this to all of my readers because it has everything you didn’t know you needed to know (and lots of free guides). So, don’t wing it. Click here to check out Chickenpedia.
M y flock enjoys the many benefits of free-ranging all year long, but in winter, their familiar green, lush plant supply is often buried underneath unreasonable amounts of snow, so I decided to experiment with supplementing their entertainment docket with sprouted grains. Sprouts are whole grains or seeds that are grown with water before being fed to the chickens. Sprouting grains is an easy way to provide chickens with fresh, boredom buster on special occasions with very little effort.
This article addresses the basics of sprouting grains for the average backyard flock as an occasional treat, not as the primary feed source. Endless resources are available on the topic of growing fodder for chickens and ruminants as the chief dietary component, a smattering of which I have cited below.
SPROUTS vs. FODDER
It took me a long time to wrap my head around the subtle differences between sprouts and fodder. The terms are often used interchangeably, but the Sprodder Police get upset when we do that, so…let’s not go there. Sprouts and fodder are simply different stages of the same germinated grains. Sprouts are germinated seeds grown to less than four inches in height, fodder is grown from the same germinated seeds to a height greater than four inches. While the process for growing sprouts and fodder is similar, fodder obviously takes longer to grow, which presents the risk of dangerous mold growth.Growing fodder requires slightly different sanitation procedures, often involving bleach or hydrogen peroxide. There are subtle nutritional differences between sprouts and fodder, but I have not been persuaded that growing grain to the fodder stage for use as a feed supplement is worth the time, effort or limited risk for a chicken supplement. Additionally, I worry about the length of fodder causing crop impaction in my birds, so I’ll stick with sprouts. I like to sprout wheat grains to the four or five inch height, which takes a mere six days.
BENEFITS OF SPROUTING:
The best review I found of the nutritional benefits of sprouts can be found here , but a summary of some of the benefits includes:
- Year-round access to fresh greens regardless of the weather
or outside growing conditions.
- Entertainment for bored chickens
- Makes the vitamins, minerals and proteins in the grains more bioavailable to the chickens. Think of grains as a nutrition packet wrapped in protective packaging. When eaten as-is with the seed packaging in place, the grain is prevented from being fully utilized nutritionally. Sprouting removes that packaging, freeing up the good stuff to break down and transform into even better stuff.
- Sprouting improves the enzyme content, making it more easily digested than grains; after sprouting, a grain becomes 40-50% more digestible to the bird, which means that they are getting more nutrition and fiber than from the same amount of unsprouted grain
- Sprouts are loaded with chlorophyll and beta-carotene, resulting in darker yolks and arguably, more nutritious eggs.
Tips for Success
- Acquire the grains from a reputable source , ensuring that they have not been treated and are fresh. Health food stores, feed stores and online merchants are all sources to consider.
- Always use clean containers and clean, fresh water.
- Sprouting can be done on the kitchen counter. No special lighting necessary.
- Room temperature should be between 45°F and 69°F.
- No special equipment is necessary, but someone is always happy to take your money for special growing trays .
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HOW TO SPROUT GRAINS
The method for sprouting grains is incredibly simple: rinse, soak overnight, rinse twice a day, drain well in between rinsing. Got it? Good, let’s complicate it.
- A plastic container with drain holes in it (any inexpensive container will do- round, square, rectangle)
- Whole grain wheat and barley are the two most commonly sprouted grains, but sprouting can be done with oats, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, lentils, clover, mung beans, soybeans, etc.
- Fresh water.
THE PROCESS (blink and you’ll miss it)
- In a large bowl, cover the grains with fresh water and soak a minimum of 8 hours to a maximum of 24 hours. (I soak mine overnight)
- Create holes in the chosen container that are small enough that the grain doesn’t fall through them.
- At the end of the soaking period, drain grains well and spread them to ¼”- ½ inch deep in chosen container.
- Place container over a second, slightly larger container to allow the water to drain off the grains fully.
- The sprouts should be watered and then drained fully twice each day for six days. By day six, the sprouted grains are ready to be fed to the flock.
The game control to use/feed the seeds to the chickens depends on the version of Minecraft: For Java Edition (PC/Mac), right click on the chickens one at a time. For Pocket Edition (PE), you tap on the chickens one at a time.
There are other answers below:
This tutorial on how to breed chickens in minecraft will see you with a flock of chickens and an endless e… You need seeds to breed chickens. But which seeds?
Starting with Chicken Breeding. Make a Chicken Catcher using Egg, Stick and Feather to be able to turn the chickens into “items”, (you can cook them as items too!) Pick a type of chicken. View all of the recipes (below) that chicken is a part of. Set up one pen for each recipe that chicken is a part of.
OverviewSpawningDropsChickens are common passive mobs found in most grassy biomes, and are the main source of chicken, feathers and eggs. · Text under CC-BY-SA license
MethodTipsWarnings Kill animals for meat. Many animals you find in your Minecraft world will drop meat when killed. All of this meat is safe to eat raw, except chicken meat, which can give you food poisoning. Cooking meat will increase its benefits. You can get meat from cows, pigs, chickens, mooshrooms, sheep, and rabbits. See Start an Animal Farm on Minecraft for instru…Fish for food. If you have a fishing rod, you can fish for food. Raw fish, raw salmon, and clow…
Regardless, once you have chickens in the hole, block off the top of it with a fence post. This will leave a space open to allow you to breed the chickens with seeds. The more chickens in the hole, the more cooked chicken you will accumulate.
1.) click a mob with an unused Swab to get a DNA Swab (the item will change name when used) 2.) Put the DNA Swab, a Seed (wheat seed), and a Bucket of XP into a crafting table, which will make a GM Chicken Feed (item) 3.)
The game control to eat a slice of cake depends on the version of Minecraft: For Java Edition (PC/Mac), right click on the cake. For Pocket Edition (PE), you tap on the cake. For Xbox 360 and Xbox One, press the LT button on the Xbox controller. For …
4. Compost Pile. Some savvy chicken keepers have figured out that you can safely feed your chickens from the compost pile, especially if you put one right in your chicken pen. Yard waste, vegetable scraps, and anything else you routinely compost can go right on the pile.
When you Should Feed Oyster Shell to Chickens
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Calcium supplements for chickens can help you avoid shell quality issues in your flock, and it’s easy to feed. Farmers have been adding calcium to the diet of layers for generations to improve shell quality, and consequently, we’ve learned a few things about it.
Why Add Calcium?
Calcium is an essential nutrient in the diet of poultry. Not only do chickens need to build and support healthy bones, but they also need enough free calcium in their diet to produce a hard eggshell.
Not all shells are created equal. An ideal shell is relatively smooth, evenly colored, and maintains a consistent shell thickness. Sometimes you get bumps and deposits on your shells, which is no big deal. If, however, you see dark spots that crack easier than the rest of the shell, you have thin spots. Additionally, if your eggs are breaking too easily, you may be experiencing thin shells.
When the shell gland fails to produce a shell, a hen can lay an egg that appears to have a soft shell. If you’ve ever asked why is my chicken laying soft eggs , then you’ve seen this anomaly before.
“Soft-shelled” eggs are a bit of a misnomer. These eggs don’t have a shell that’s soft, but instead, they don’t have a shell at all. These eggs only have a shell membrane on the outside. The membrane usually holds the whole mess together, but it’ll feel like a wiggly ball of fluid.
Causes of Shell-less Eggs
Shell-less eggs are not usually caused by calcium deficiencies. Stress, illness, or lack of proper nutrition are more likely to be the reason your hen lays an occasional “soft-shelled” egg. Shell-less eggs do become more common as a hen ages, so don’t be surprised if you find one now and again.
When Not to Add Calcium
Young birds should never eat high calcium diets. Having more calcium than they can adequately absorb causes damage to their kidneys and therefore can shorten their lifespan.
It’s okay to feed grit for chickens to young birds, but don’t feed them oyster shell. Many people incorrectly think these two products should always be supplied together, so don’t make that assumption.
When to Add Calcium
If your birds are otherwise healthy, but you start seeing shell quality issues, it’s time to add calcium supplements for chickens to your feeding program. Routinely finding sub-par eggs in a healthy flock, such as thin shells, thin spots, and general malformations are all signs of poor shell quality. However, lumps, bumps, and extra calcium deposits on eggshells won’t be solved by adding calcium to a hen’s diet.
Molting chickens , or birds that have already molted at least once, are old enough to have free-choice calcium supplements for chickens. If you have shell quality issues in birds that have not experienced their first molt, look elsewhere for your problems.
Don’t Overlook Problems
Shell quality issues in first-year layers are usually because of management issues, so don’t assume that adding calcium will fix it. Some common issues that’ll result in reduced shell quality in first-year layers are changing over from chick feed too late, poor choice of feed, stress, and crowding. If you’re getting weak eggshells, make sure you’re feeding the right stuff and make sure all your bird’s needs are met.
Grit and oyster shell are two tools in our supplement toolkit. Each has their place, but don’t assume you need to supply both at the same time.
Diseases and Egg Shells
Infectious Bronchitis and other chicken diseases are also known to cause shell anomalies. Talk to your local or state veterinarian if you see odd shells consistently from your flock, and ask their opinion on the matter. Otherwise healthy looking flocks that routinely lay malformed eggs may have a low-level infection. Usually, blood or fecal tests will tell the vet what they need to know.
Calcium Supplements for Chickens
Crushed oyster shells are an excellent source of calcium, and are the most common way flock owners supplement calcium in their flock. Some people also clean and crush their used egg shells and feed them back to their hens. This works perfectly well, even though it may be a bit time-consuming.
If you believe it’s time to add calcium supplements for chickens to your flock’s diet, it’s an easy thing to do. I don’t suggest adding it directly to their regular grain because no one ever mixes it to their chicken’s liking. Birds will pick out and toss your oyster shell while looking for more grain, wasting your supplements.
Free Choice Oysters
Chickens are quite good at regulating themselves and know when they need a little more calcium in their diet. I suggest placing a dedicated feeder in your coop or outside run full of crushed oyster shell. When your hens need it, they’ll eat some. Just be sure the feeder is protected from rain because wet oyster shells will clump up.
Many people mix chicken grit to the mix, which is excellent if your birds don’t go outside. If your birds roam the great outdoors, don’t waste your time and money on grit, because they’re picking it up as they forage anyway.
Do you feed your birds calcium supplements for chickens? How do you feed it? Let us know in the comments below and join the conversation!
The game control to use/feed the seeds to the chickens depends on the version of Minecraft: For Java Edition (PC/Mac), right click on the chickens one at a time. For Pocket Edition (PE), you tap on the chickens one at a time. For Xbox 360 and Xbox …
There are other answers below:
This is a quick tip tutorial letting you know how to breed chickens, as well as explaining why they are the best/easiest animal to breed.Minecraft Update Adv…
Once you feed the animals they’ll enter “Love Mode” and you’ll know that they’re in this mode by seeing flying hearts around them. “Love Mode” lasts for …
Make a chicken catcher (egg, stick and feather) to be able to turn the chickens into “items”, (you can cook them as items too!) Inbreed your chickens until they get sick stats (best is 10/10/10), they always start off at 1/1/1. Click to see full answer. Furthermore, what does a …
OverviewSpawningDropsChickens are common passive mobs found in most grassy biomes, and are the main source of chicken, feathers and eggs. · Text under CC-BY-SA license
1 Answer Active Oldest Votes 1 Chickens can be bred like other farm animals, by feeding any two adult chickens with wheat seeds, melon seeds, or pumpkin seeds. After breeding, chickens will not accept any more food for about 5 minutes. Chicks …
Throw one the chosen chicken in each pen (either with net, lasso or eggs) As you breed the mates that you need, place them into your breeding pens and have at it Inbreed your chickens until they get sick stats (best is 10/10/10), they always start off …
Chickens Chickens can be bred with beetroot seeds, melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, or wheat seeds. They will follow a player carrying any seeds. Cows Just like mooshrooms, cows will follow players holding wheat and will breed when fed this item. Donkeys Donkeys must be tamed before they are able to be bred. You can tame a donkey by clicking on them.
For the villagers to breed, ensure that there are 3 loaves of bread, 12 carrots, 12 potatoes, or 12 beetroots in the inventory per one villager. Feed it …
The game control to use/feed the wheat to the cows depends on the version of Minecraft: For Java Edition (PC/Mac), right click on the cows one at a time. For Pocket Edition (PE), you tap on the cows one at a time. For Xbox 360 and Xbox One, press the LT button on the Xbox controller. For PS3 and PS4, press the L2 button on the PS controller.
How do you breed chickens and cows in Minecraft?
Chickens can be bred with beetroot seeds, melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, or wheat seeds. They will follow a player carrying any seeds. Just like mooshrooms, cows will follow players holding wheat and will breed when fed this item.
How do you play with chickens on Minecraft Java?
For Java Edition (PC/Mac), right click on the chickens one at a time. For Pocket Edition (PE), you tap on the chickens one at a time. For Xbox 360 and Xbox One, press the LT button on the Xbox controller.
How to feed seeds to chickens in Minecraft?
Next, with the seeds selected in your hot bar, you will need to feed the seeds to each of the chickens, one at a time. The game control to use/feed the seeds to the chickens depends on the version of Minecraft: For Java Edition (PC/Mac), right click on the chickens one at a time. For Pocket Edition (PE), you tap on the chickens one at a time.
How to spawn chicks in Minecraft?
One can be sure that a chick will spawn by breeding two chickens, which is why this is the preferred method. Chicks will always follow the nearest adult chicken. Like many baby mobs, chicks have a head that is the same size as an adult, but their body size and feet/leg size is noticeably smaller.
Why Do Chickens Take a Dirt Bath? To Ward Off Mites and Other Parasites.
Reading Time: 3 minutes
A healthy and good smelling chicken NEEDS to take a dust bath on a regular basis. Chances are if your chicken is “not too fresh,” then they do not have access to a dust bath. But, a dust bath for chickens not only helps keep your flock smelling fresh, it is also a natural chicken mite treatment.
For those of you who have watched backyard chickens dust bathing, I think you will agree that it is not only comical, but shows your hens in the utmost state of contentedness.
During the act of dust bathing, chickens will do their best to get as much “dirt” as they can all over their bodies down to the base of their feathers. This in turn actually cleans the chicken (see ingredients below) and will asphyxiate pests that may potentially prey on them.
If you let your hens free range and DON’T provide a dust bath in the chicken pen and run, I guarantee that they WILL make a dust bath where your favorite plants are growing. It’s ingrained in their behavior and essential to their personal health. So … why not build a dust bath for chickens in your coop?
In order to get started, you’ll need a container that is at least 12″ deep, 15″ wide and 24″ long. I used an old apple crate that I had kicking around in the shed. It works great for my small flock of three.
The 4 ingredients that you will need are:
1) Builder’s sand (don’t waste your money on the more expensive kid’s play sand).
2) Wood ash – I get the ash from my wood stove and take out the larger charcoal pieces with a cat litter scooper.
3) Soil – If you are purchasing soil, make sure it is fertilizer, chemical, and vermiculite free.
4) Diatomaceous earth use – Make sure it is FOOD-GRADE and not for use in pools. The bag MUST read For LIVESTOCK FEED.
Add equal parts of each ingredient to the mixture and top up when necessary. You will know that your hens are using the dust bath if:
1) You find some of the “bath” contents on the coop floor.
2) You see them nestled up together in the crate throwing dirt on each other.
3) They are free ranging and suddenly shake from comb to feet and a cloud of dust emerges around your hen.
So, why not consider making a dust bath for chickens? It’ll sure beat them tearing up your prized petunias. You’ll be helping them out by reducing their risk to lice and mites and they, in return, will continue to thank you by providing those great fresh eggs.
If you already have a dust bath, why not drop me a line and let us know what you are using for your “chicken spa.”
Originally published in 2013 and regularly vetted for accuracy.
A benefit of raising your own chickens is having inexpensive organic eggs and meat. The problem is that in many areas it is nearly impossible to get organic chicken feeds and even if you can it is expensive.
Of course you can order it online, or have your feed store special order it but it is inconvenient as well. Your final cost is still less than buying commercially raised poultry products (And more humane!) but homesteaders generally have to constantly look for ways to save money.
Homemade Organic Chicken Feed
Free range and pasture raised chickens eat a lot of forage. From mice to bugs and grass to your prize tomatoes, chickens will peck at anything. Add in your table scraps and your chickens are probably getting a pretty balanced diet. You won’t need to worry too much about the proper balance of ingredients because the feed will be a supplement to their diet rather than a primary component of it.
Obviously if you are going to make your own homemade organic chicken feed you will want to use all organic ingredients. Beware of soy and fish meal, however. Soy has a high concentration of phyto-estrogen and this is of concern to some people. Fish meal can have a high level of mercury and that is something you want to watch as well. There are so many good ingredients that can be added to homemade chicken feed there is no reason to buy questionable things.
You should be able to find all of the following ingredients in an organic variety. Most, like lentils, quinoa and barley, are sold at grocery and health food stores and are available in bulk. You may need to run by your local feed store for a few ingredients, particularly the oyster shells. Any ingredients that are hard to find in your area can be ordered online.
Homemade Poultry Feed Mix
– 2 parts whole corn
– 3 parts soft white wheat
– 3 parts hard red winter wheat
– ½ part Diatomaceous Earth (not the kind you put in your pool)
– 1 part hulled barley
– 1 part oat groats
– 2 part sunflower seeds
– 1 part wheat bran
– 1 part split peas
– 1 part sesame seeds
Mix the feed by hand so that it is thoroughly mixed. It doesn’t hurt to run your hands through it before feeding in case something settles. This is based on a good bit of Internet research from a variety of places. You may find Bird Farm helpful. It has a lot of specialty mixes. Another good place for information is the forum at Backyard Chickens.
Keep the oyster shell calcium in a container so the chickens can eat it as they need to.
Keep It Fresh
When you make Homemade, organic chicken feed you have the opportunity to completely control everything that goes into it. The tendency is to feel like you should make huge amounts to save time. Don’t do it. Another benefit of homemade feed is that it is often more fresh that the commercial feeds, retaining much of the nutrients.
Store your fresh feed in an airtight, covered container.
Lauren Arcuri Ware runs a small farm and family homestead on 25 acres in Vermont. Her experience includes raising chickens for eggs and meat, growing vegetables, harvesting apples, keeping bees, and canning, freezing, drying, pickling, and preserving food. She’s covered those topics for The Spruce for seven years.
If you’re interested in raising chickens for meat, not eggs, you’ll need to learn a few things and prepare your chicken raising a little bit differently. There are some additional steps to consider, including the slaughtering, processing, or butchering the birds when they are fully grown to market size. Chickens raised for meat are commonly called “meat birds” and are usually a different breed from laying hens.
Should You Raise Meat Birds?
Before you get the chicks, consider whether you want to raise meat birds. They’re very different from laying hens. You’ll have a lot (usually 50 or more, although you could just raise a few) of fast-growing birds. This also means you’ll have a lot of poop. It’s important to ask yourself (and your family) if you can handle saying goodbye in six to eight short weeks. Whether you slaughter them on-farm or take them to be processed, you will need to face this reality. Also note, it’s cruel to meat birds to let them live longer than a few months as they are heavy-breasted and can die of heart failure if they grow too big.
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Oli Kellett / Iconica / Getty Images
How to Choose a Meat Bird Breed
Meat birds are a separate breed from laying hens. Although a hundred years ago laying hens were truly dual-purpose, meaning most people kept a flock of hens and roosters and killed older birds as needed for meat, older chickens tend to be tough and stringy, better for stew or soup than a roast chicken like you eat today.
Cornish Rocks, which are a cross between a Cornish and a White Rock, are the typical meat bird breed and used in factory farms all over the United States and on many small family farm operations as well (both pastured and conventional). They are extremely efficient converters of feed to muscle. Other breeds more suited to pasture are also becoming available.
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How to Choose a Coop for Meat Birds
You will need a coop for your chickens, just like for your laying hens. Coops for meat birds are often larger so that you can raise 50, 100, or more birds at a time. Many people raise meat birds just during the summer season. This way they can often be in more temporary shelters such as hoop houses or tarps. You will need to make sure your birds have protection from the rain and the wind. They don’t need roosts because meat birds don’t like to roost. If you’re pasturing your chickens, you will want to have a movable coop or use a day ranging method.
How to Start From Day-Old Chicks
Most likely, you will buy your chickens as day-old chicks from a hatchery or feed store. Baby chicks require a bit of specialized care. They need a brooder area and a heat lamp to keep them warm. They need their brooder temperature monitored closely and they need to be prevented from developing issues like pasting up.
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Raising Meat Birds on Pasture
You can keep your chickens in a coop with just a small run attached, but meat birds raised on pasture tend to produce meat that is higher in omega-3s and the birds are just happier.
Processing Chickens on the Farm
When your birds have grown to full size, typically 5–7 pounds depending on whether you’re raising broilers or roasters, it’s time to process them into chickens for the freezer. You can do this on-farm or you can find a poultry processor and transport the birds to the site to be slaughtered and processed. If you plan to sell your birds at a store or farmers market, you will need to have them slaughtered at a USDA-approved facility. Some states have mobile facilities, making the location more flexible.
Wait. Why exactly am I feeding eggshells to chickens? I’m glad you asked!
Eggshells are made of mostly calcium carbonate. Chickens need lots of calcium so that their eggshells are thick and unbreakable (well, not totally unbreakable, but you get the idea).
If a chicken doesn’t get enough calcium she may not lay as many eggs or her eggshells may become so weak that they get stuck in the oviduct (called egg-binding), which, like crop issues, can be a serious, and life-threatening issue.
Chicken feed should provide enough calcium for any hen, but just like us humans, each chicken is different and has different dietary needs. Offering supplemental calcium will allow the ladies who need more calcium to get it.
Oyster shells are another option for supplemental calcium but I prefer not to buy something when I already have a perfect supplement on hand.
Feeding Eggshells to Chickens
There are many ways to do it and every chicken farmer does it differently. Here’s how I feed eggshells to chickens (an even simpler system below).
I keep a jar for eggshells on my counter. When I use an egg I rinse the egg shell and let it dry on the counter for a while before putting it in the jar. If I put wet or eggy shells in the jar, the shells start to smell terrible(!) and they never dry out.
When the jar is full, I dump the eggshells out onto a large baking sheet. I bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.
When they come out I either throw them into the blender and pulse a few times or I just use my mortar and pestle. As long as they are dry you can also just hand crush them (which I do often).
I then throw a little crushed eggshell in when I bring scraps out to the chickens. Some people recommend offering it in a separate dish so they don’t eat too much eggshell but I just throw everything on the ground for them to scratch and peck through. They love it!
I also believe that chickens can instinctively get what their bodies need as long as it’s available. (I mean, they did thrive for many years before domestication, right?)
Note: eggshells shouldn’t be fed to baby chicks. Only laying age hens (6 months+ old) need calcium.
Why do I Crush the Eggshells?
Crushing them makes them unrecognizable as eggshells. Some hens will start breaking and eating her eggs after being fed eggshells, most won’t, but this helps ease my mind.
Update: I’ve gotten lazy with the crushing part but my girls still don’t eat their own eggs (unless I drop one and then they run over to check it out). I don’t worry about crushing anymore.
Need Something Simpler?
If you want to really simplify things, you could take uncooked shells out with scraps each day instead. Cooking the eggshells just makes them easier to crush, so if you don’t want to crush them then you really don’t need to bake them. Honestly, I just let the eggshells dry on their own then crush them a bit. It works great and takes way less time!
Have you ever tried feeding eggshells to chickens? How did you do it?
Mindy Wood is the founder of Our Inspired Roots, the place to go for inspiration and instruction on growing food & medicine in a way that is healthy for people and the planet.
Susan Thompson says
I also feed my chickens their own egg shells. After letting them totally dry on the counter I put them in a gallon zip lock bag and run a rolling pin over them until they are crushed to my liking. Then I put in a bowl and put in the chicken yard for the girls to peck at.
Great idea, thanks for sharing!
I need to know how old do my babies need to be before I them egg shells
They don’t need supplemental calcium until around laying age which is about 6 months old.
do you need to bake those old egg shells to keep chickens from getting salmonella?
Supposedly baking them changes the smell and taste and makes the chickens less likely to cannibalize their own eggs.
Sally White says
Thank you for your help, if indeed the girl has impacted crop. I am not sure yet if this is the problem, what else couuld it be??
After baking the egg shells how long would they keep?
I would say indefinitely. They’re a mineral, not something organic that naturally decomposes.
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Mindy Wood is the founder of Our Inspired Roots, the place to go for inspiration and instruction on growing food & medicine in a way that is healthy for people and the planet. Read More…
If you have chickens, then it is recommended that you always have some chicken grit available for them to use. So, what is chicken grit? Why do you need it? In fact, do you really need it?
That is what we are going to take a look at on this page!
In a hurry?
If you don’t have much time use the links below to quickly find the Best Chicken Grit for your chickens and chicks on Amazon. You can be assured we only choose the best products…
What is Chicken Grit?
Chicken grit is, simply, a hard substance. Almost like small rocks, that the chicken can eat. Although, they are not eating it for nutrition.
It is so that they can break up the foods that they do eat. Chickens need some sort of grit in their diet, otherwise, it is going to be impossible for them to digest the vast majority of foods.
Although, we are going to talk more about that in a short while.
When it comes to chicken grit, you have a few different options available.
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what type of grit you provide them with. It is all going to do pretty much the same job.
However, when it comes to our backyard chickens, we tend to go for oyster shells (crushed). We have tried this one and it is definitely one of the best. Our chickens love it.
The crushed oyster shells, erodes more easily than an inert grit like the crushed granite, but less easily than other forms of calcium carbonate like the aragonite.
This is because oyster shells can add a little bit of calcium to the diet, which is absolutely fantastic for raising chickens that lay fantastic eggs!
Although, as we said, it probably won’t matter all that much. While you can make the grit yourself, and a lot of backyard chicken owners do, we find that grit is affordable enough that you do not really need to do this.
Just buy a small bag. It is going to last an age, particularly if your chickens are free-range chickens, or if they are mostly eating commercial chicken feed.
Any grit labeled as insoluble grit will be made up of small stones, most likely granite, which has been finely ground up.
When you are buying this type of grit, you will want to ensure that whatever you purchase has been rated for the size of the chickens that you own.
The same if you buy soluble grit (made up of shells), or mixed grit, which is made up of a combination of both.
Why do Chickens Need Grit?
Chickens do not digest food in the same way that we digest food. They do not have a stomach.
Instead, they have a gizzard. The gizzard is a muscle that helps to grind down the food that the chicken consumes.
The problem is that the gizzard isn’t strong enough alone to grind the food up.
It needs a bit of extra power, and this is obtained by chicken grit. The chicken grit moves in sync with the gizzard muscle.
The chicken grit is hard enough that it will help to break down the food that the chicken has eaten. Over time, the grit will start to get ground up too. This will then be ‘digested’ in the same way.
That being said, some people will make the claim that chickens do not grit supplements. We suppose that this is true, to an extent.
You see, chickens may be a purely commercial bird, but they were bred from birds that lived in the wild.
Obviously, these birds are not receiving grit supplements. If your chicken is free-range, then they may be able to pick up enough stones and other ‘grit-like’ substances that you do not need to supplement with grit.
The same if your chicken is only eating commercial chicken food. Their gizzards should be strong enough to break it up alone.
However, we still recommend that you make grit available to them. Even if they do not take the chicken grit, they are going to enjoy the fact that it is there. It allows them to take it if absolutely required.
How To Feed Chickens Grit?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter how much chicken grit you put in the chicken coop or run. Chickens will only consume it when they need it.
You do not have to worry about them overeating the grit, simply because it is impossible for them to do so. Therefore, all you need to do is ensure that chicken grit levels are kept topped up.
If you can do that, then you can guarantee your chickens will always have enough access to grit to help them digest their food.
This is a simple and affordable chicken grit feeder that we bought from Amazon.
When Do Chickens Need Grit?
Chickens need grit especially during the summer when the weather is warm and so the chickens eat less, so the calcium in their regular ration may not be enough. This can result in thin-shelled eggs.
The amount of grit that a hen needs varies with her age and diet. In general older hens need more calcium than younger hens because their bones have been exhausted.
Free-range chickens or pasture chickens obtain some calcium by eating bugs and worms, but may not obtain enough to meet their needs.
Also, if you notice chickens eating their own eggs, this is a sign that they do not have enough calcium in their diet.
Do Baby Chicks Need Grit?
Yes, baby chicks need grit. They definitely need it. Basically you will want to introduce grit to your chicks once they start eating foods other then their ‘chick starter’ food, at about 2 weeks of age.
The ‘chick grit’ or ‘baby grit’ is smaller than the one for chickens. As said earlier, it is used to stimulate gizzard development, that is why it is good for the chicks to get started young so they develop good gizzards.
This is one of the best chick grit that we have tried:
It is worth noting that If your chicks are eating the commercial chick starter food, then they probably do not need grit, because the food may already contain. Read the description carefully.
How To Make Your Own Chicken Grit
You can use eggshells, to make your own chicken grit. The eggshells contain exactly the right calcium balance and may be recycled back to the hens to help replenish lost calcium and other nutrients.
Get the eggshells that you have used. Make sure that you wash the shells. Then you need to dry them and crush them on small peaces before feeding them to hens.
You should slowly bake them in the oven, until they are nice and crisps. Do this for 10 minutes in a 300°F (150°C). Or you can always dry them by spreading them on a sheet of paper in the sun.
Flock Management : Layer Nutrition
Flock Management : Egg Production
Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions
Switch laying hens to a complete chicken layer feed when they start laying eggs around 18 weeks of age. Choose a complete layer feed that includes all the essential nutrients laying hens need to lay strong and stay strong. Then make the transition gradually over one week.
When you turn 18, you can do a lot of new things. You can vote, buy fireworks and even try your luck with the lottery. The magical number means welcome to adulthood.
For backyard chickens, the number 18 means the same thing. Eighteen weeks is the age when laying hens are considered adults. Most excitingly, it’s the time when many chicken breeds will start laying eggs. At this key milestone, switch your hens to a complete layer feed.
This feed switch is an essential step down the road to farm fresh eggs because hens require different nutrients to produce eggs as compared to when they are growing.
To produce an egg each day, hens need high levels of calcium, vitamins and minerals. Hens transfer many of these nutrients directly into their eggs, so the nutrients in layer feed play an essential role in egg production.
Consider the following steps when transitioning to a complete chicken layer feed:
1. Choose a chicken layer feed that matches your goals.
The best chicken feed for layers depends on your flock goals. Select a complete layer feed before the transition begins. Ideally, make your layer feed decision by week 16, so you’re ready to make the transition at week 18.
First, look for a complete layer feed. This means the feed should be formulated to provide all the nutrients laying hens require without a need to supplement. Choose a layer feed with the Purina ® Oyster Strong ® System to help your hens lay strong and stay strong.
Which layer feed Oyster Strong ® System is right for your flock?
- Purina ® Layena ® pelletsorcrumbles Our most popular layer feeds
- Purina ® Layena ® Omega-3 Includes added omega-3 fatty acids for your health
- Purina ® Layena ® Free Range Includes insect protein
- Purina ® Organic Layer Feed Certified USDA Organic
Each of these chicken layer feeds is made with simple, wholesome ingredients, 16 percent protein, at least 3.25 percent calcium as well as key vitamins and minerals. They also include our exclusive Oyster Strong ® System to ensure your laying hens achieve a balanced supply of calcium through a blend of oyster shell, vitamin D and manganese. These three ingredients work together to help your chickens produce strong-shelled, delicious eggs each day.
These are just the essentials, though. Additional ingredients in Purina ® complete layer feeds help bring hen health and egg quality to the next level.
A few next-level ingredients to look for include:
- For rich, yellow yolks: Marigold extract
- For strong shells and healthy hens: Oyster Strong ® System
- For immune and digestive health: Prebiotics and probiotics
- For vibrant feathering: Essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine
- For omega-rich eggs: Added omega-3 fatty acids
2. Transition to chicken layer feed over one week.
When birds reach 18 weeks old or when the first egg arrives, gradually switch your laying hens to a complete layer feed. It’s important to make the transition over time to prevent digestive upset.
On our farm in Missouri, we’ve found it’s best to make chicken feed transitions over time rather than all at once. We mix the starter-grower feed and layer feed evenly for four or five days. If birds are used to crumbles, start with a crumble layer feed. The same goes with pellets. The more similar the two chicken feeds are, the more smoothly the transition will go.
Many hens will eat the mixed feed without noticing a difference. When laying hens are eating both feeds, you can stop feeding the starter-grower feed and make the complete switch to all layer feed. It is important to give your birds enough time to adjust to the new diet. Most birds will adjust within a couple days but some can take a couple weeks to fully transition to their new diet.
3. Keep chicken feed consistent.
Once the transition to layer feed is complete, it’s best to maintain a routine.
We recommend providing free choice layer feed to hens and switching out the feed each morning and evening. Laying hens eat approximately 0.25 pounds of complete feed each day, equaling about one-half cup.
If birds are free-ranging, offer complete layer feed before they go out in the morning. This will help them consume the essential nutrients before filling up on less nutritionally balanced insects and plants.
It’s important for the complete feed to make up at least 90 percent of the hen’s diet. We feed complete layer feeds on our farm because they are formulated to provide all the nutrients hens require at the correct levels. It’s reassuring to know that each bite of feed is balanced to keep our hens healthy and producing quality eggs.
Laying hens require more nutritious feed for better egg production. A proper diet with all necessary nutrients available, can ensure maximum and regular egg production. Quality of feeds also control the growth and quality of eggs.
So high quality and nutritious feeds are essential when your hens become mature and start laying. Free range chickens also require additional supply of calcium and protein in their regular diet.
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What to Feed Laying Hens
Learn more about what to feed laying hens for proper growth, healthy life and maximum egg production.
There are various types of formulated feeds available in the market for chickens according to their age and types of hens. You will find feeds for your chicks, growing chicks and mature one.
And you can feed your laying hens this types of commercially prepared chicken feed. Commercially prepared feeds contain the appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins that are essential for laying hens.
15 to 18 percent of protein containing feeds are required for your laying hens. Ensure availability of this amount of protein in your hen’s diet when they start laying or for beginning 20 weeks.
As this types of formulated feeds fulfill all your laying hen’s nutritional demands, they will also enjoy other foods as treats. Always provide them fresh formulated chicken feed.
Chickens enjoy all kinds of greens including grasses, leaves, plants etc. Fresh greens, tender grass clippings, table scraps, vegetables etc. are effective greens for your laying hens.
Garlic or onions are strongly flavored vegetables. Avoid feeding your laying hens this types of vegetables because the flavor may transfer to their eggs.
If you raise your hens in free range system, then avoid using chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides near their browsing area. Never serve your hens huge amount of greens.
Limit the greens to a certain amount that your hens can eat within 20 to 30 minutes and always provide fresh greens.
Naturally chickens love to scratch up the soil and eat bugs, insects, grit and greens. You can provide your hens scratch mix that is an assortment of grains and seeds like barley, corn, oats or wheat.
You can scatter this type of scratch mix over the ground for your hens and they will enjoy it. Limit the amount of scratch mix. Provide them such amount of scratch mix that they can eat within 20 minutes.
Along with scratch mix, add a feeder with granite grit for the hens to peck. Your laying hens need this additional grit to grind up the seeds and grains.
Supplemental Calcium & Vitamins
Supplement the feed of your laying hens with extra vitamins and calcium whether they eat commercially prepared feed or feed free range. Calcium helps to make the eggshells strong.
And vitamins are essential for proper growth and better production. You can keep ground oyster shell in a separate feeder for your hens. Doing this will help your hens to get sufficient amount of calcium.
Along with feeding high quality and nutritious feeds, your laying hens also need a consistent water source. Normally, chickens drink double or triple than the total amount of feed they consume each day.
So, ensure availability of clean and fresh water always and check the watering pot several times a day. Lack of water can results stressed and dehydrated hens.
And stressed hens might stop laying eggs for several days, even weeks. So, always provide sufficient amount of clean and fresh water to your laying hens.
Providing high quality and nutritious food is very important for raising laying hens. So, always ensure availability of all types of necessary nutrients in the regular diet of your laying hens.
BYC (BackYardChickens) has TONS of fantastic information on all aspects of chicken keeping, combined with a wealth of experiences and knowledge shared by our community members. If your question isn’t answered in our Learning Center Articles, we promise there is an answer on our chicken discussion forum.
The information below will help you begin your journey by covering the basics of raising chickens. We’ll link to other areas of the site where you can scratch up even more details!
So, you are interested in raising chickens? Keeping a backyard flock can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, one that is gaining in popularity as more people recognize the many benefits of having a “a pet that makes you breakfast”! You’ll quickly experience how fun it is to have chickens as pets. We’re happy to help as you embark on the fun and exciting journey of raising BackYard Chickens!
If you have chickens, you’ll often be asked the question: ” Why raise backyard chickens? ” Most people know hens (female chickens) provide delicious and nutritious eggs, but don’t realize the many other benefits that come with having your own backyard flock. Here are some of the most common reasons to raise chickens:
- Chickens are easy and inexpensive to maintain (when compared to most other pets—see what our members say in this poll: Chicken Keeping—easier, same or harder than dogs/cats?)
- Hens’ eggs are fresh, delicious and nutritious. Read more about interesting egg facts .
- They provide chemical-free bug and weed control in your garden
- They are manufacturers of the world’s best fertilizer. chicken manure (and they’ll dig over the garden for free )
- They can be fun and friendly pets with personality ( y es, you read that right!)
- They can be fantastic pets for children of all ages (and Kids with Disabilities Can Enjoy Chickens Too!)
- See the awesome results of our poll on Why Do You Have Chickens?
Trade forum for members’ listings of hatching eggs or chickens for sale.
Your babies are quickly becoming teenagers and anxious to leave the brooder. Hopefully you’ve thought ahead and have their chicken coop and chicken run ready to go! Once the chicks have feathered out (roughly 6-7 weeks) you’ll want to move them out of your house and into a chicken coop! When buying or building a coop, make sure it’s big enough for them (and any future additions). A good rule of thumb for space requirements is approximately 3–4 square feet per chicken inside the coop and 10 sq/ft per chicken for the outside run. Check out this great guide on how much room do chickens need?
Nobody wants to encounter a hen pecking in the coop; a few simple changes can block boredom.
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Have you ever wondered what goes through a chicken’s mind? Wouldn’t it be helpful if they could say, “My feathers are itchy!” or “I’m bored!”? Though humans and hens don’t speak the same language, simple changes can help backyard flock conversations go smoothly and provide answers to common flock owner questions like, how to stop chickens from pecking each other.
“As backyard flock owners, we are tasked with becoming chicken whisperers,” says Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., a flock nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “Keeping a peaceful flock requires us to interpret behaviors to decipher what our chickens are telling us.”
During fall and winter when chickens are spending more time in the coop, boredom can bring out changes in behavior, such as pecking.
“Chickens are naturally inquisitive, but they don’t have arms and hands to inspect things. They use their beaks to explore instead,” says Biggs. “Pecking is a natural chicken behavior that allows them to check out their surroundings, including their flock mates.”
Though hen pecking is a natural occurrence, the nature of this behavior can change when birds spend more time inside.
“Understanding the difference between curious and aggressive hen pecking is key to knowing when there is a problem,” Biggs continues. “Not all pecking is bad. When it is gentle, this behavior is fun to watch. If pecking becomes aggressive, it can be problematic to other birds in the flock.”
How to Stop Chickens From Pecking Each Other
1. Investigate the reason for hen pecking.
If the hen pecking behavior becomes aggressive, Biggs’ first tip is to determine if something is causing birds to act out.
“Start with a list of questions about the environment: Are the hens too crowded? Do they ever run out of chicken feed or water? Are they too hot or cold? Is there a predator in the area? Is there something outside of the coop that is causing them to be stressed?” he asks.
After the stressor has been identified, the next step is easy: remove the problem and the behavior may go away or diminish.
“To maintain this newfound peace, make sure your birds have a minimum of 4 square feet indoors and 10 square feet outdoors per bird. Adequate feeder and waterer space is also critical,” adds Biggs.
If a new hen is added to the flock, there may be a period of uneasiness.
“Remember, there will always be some dominance in the flock as part of the pecking order,” Biggs says. “There are typically one or two boss hens who rule the roost. Once the pecking order is determined, the birds usually live together peacefully.”
2. Chickens take baths, too.
The next step to prevent feather picking is to keep birds clean. Chickens take a different type of bath then you might expect. They often dig a shallow hole, loosen up all the dirt and then cover themselves in it.
“This process is called a dust bath,” Biggs says. “Dust bathing is an instinct that helps keep birds clean. On our farm, we make dust baths for our hens by following these three steps: 1. Find a container at least 12” deep, 15” wide and 24” long; 2. Combine an equal blend of sand, wood ash, and natural soil; 3. Watch your birds roll around in the bath and clean themselves.”
Dust baths can also prevent external parasites such as mites and lice. If external parasites are an issue, supplement your birds’ dust bath with a cup or two of food-grade diatomaceous earth.
“If you add diatomaceous earth, be sure to mix it in well,” explains Biggs. “Diatomaceous earth can be harmful if inhaled in large amounts. By mixing the diatomaceous earth into the dust bath, it has less probability to become airborne while still helping prevent external parasites.”
3. Offer an alternative place for birds to peck.
Next, provide birds something to keep their minds busy. Perhaps the most fun of Biggs’ three tips is to find toys for chickens that bring out their natural instincts.
“Interactive objects can make the chicken coop more complex and exciting,” he says. “Logs, sturdy branches or chicken swings are a few flock favorites. These toys provide unique retreats for hens who may be lower in the pecking order.”
Another flock boredom-buster is a block for hens to peck, like the Purina® Flock Block™. You can simply place this block in the coop for hens to peck. The block can be a fun experience for hens and prevent flock boredom when they are spending more time in the coop.
“The Purina® Flock Block™ encourages natural pecking instincts,” says Biggs. “It also contains whole grains, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and oyster shell to provide nutrients that contribute to the hen’s well-being.”
At one point and time there was a common idiom, “will work for chicken feed,” which basically means a person would work for little to no compensation. Anyone who owns chickens knows that the idiom doesn’t really apply to raising a flock. Sure, they do a lot of work, such as lay eggs and turn our compost, but they still need to be fed and chicken food ain’t cheap! That’s where DIY chicken feed comes in. Yes, you can grow your own chicken feed. Keep reading to find out how to grow your own natural, homegrown chicken feed.
Why Grow Natural Chicken Feed?
Many people who raise chickens allow the chickens to roam free range. That’s great if you have sufficient land, but even so, during the winter months the chickens still need to be fed. This can get pricey, especially if using organic food.
Then there are the burgeoning legions of city folks who are trying their hand at raising their own poultry. These folks can let their chickens run amok, but most people don’t. Why? Well, because even though the free-range poultry can keep the weeds and pests down, they will also eat everything out of the veggie garden and pretty much destroy turf. Bye-bye nice yard.
So while allowing the chickens free range to munch at will is ideal, it isn’t always practical. That’s why you need to grow your own natural, homegrown chicken feed.
How to Grow Chicken Feed Yourself
If you do have a veggie garden, grow a little extra for the flock. They love leafy greens like:
While you’re growing extra greens for the flock, grow some pumpkins or winter squash for them as well. These will provide nourishment through the winter months when other natural food is scarce.
Also, grow amaranth, sunflowers, orach, and corn for your feathered friends. Once the seedheads are dry, you will have nutritious seeds from these crops that can easily be threshed by hand and stored in airtight containers for the winter.
Once the garden is ready to put to bed, it’s time to plant a cover crop such as rye grass, alfalfa, or mustard. This will become a double benefit. It will improve the garden soil for next year but with no extra work from you! Allow the chickens to process the cover crop for you. They will get unending delicacies as they work the ground, all while they till the soil, add manure, and eat up pests and weed seeds. When planting time comes, just rake the area smooth, add a layer of compost, and you’re ready to plant.
Lastly, during winter months, or anytime really, you can start batches of sprouts for your flock. They will love the fresh greens. Sprouting unlocks the protein and nutrients in dry grains and seeds and makes them more digestible for chickens. Plus, it’s pretty cheap. One tablespoon of some crops makes a quart or more of sprouts.
Some sprouted foods to try are:
Just soak the seed in a bowl and then spread it out onto a tray or a container with drainage holes. Rinse them daily until the sprout are 4 inches (10 cm.) tall, then feed them to the chickens. Alfalfa, red clover, and mung beans can also be used as sprouts but these should be sprouted in a quart jar with a sprouting lid.
Flock Management : Flock Health
Flock Management : Layer Nutrition
Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions
Healthy chicken treats can be fed in moderation along with a complete chicken feed. Be sure to follow the 90/10 rule – offer 90% complete feed to a maximum of 10% treats each day.
Rhubarbs or roses? Which is a tasty treat for your chickens and which should you avoid? Whether you’re new to backyard chickens or you’ve had a flock for years, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of feeding your birds.
As backyard chicken raisers, we love to treat our girls – especially as temperatures warm up and the flock spends more time outside. But it’s not really the treats that make the flock come running, it’s the attention. Chickens will come running for complete feed, just as they would for treats.
Backyard chickens have fewer than 350 taste buds compared to humans’ 10,000. Still, treats and foraging can be fun pastimes for the flock. If you’d like to offer treats and free-range time, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
90/10: The chicken feed rule to follow
Chickens require 38 unique nutrients at the correct levels. Purina ® complete feeds are formulated to meet these demands. Choose one complete starter-grower feed for day 1 through week 18 and one complete layer feed for laying hens.
To prevent nutrient dilution, provide complete feed for at least 90 percent of the bird’s diet. The remaining 10 percent can be filled with chicken treats, table scraps or scratch grains.
But what does the 90/10 rule mean? Laying hens eat approximately 0.25 pounds of complete feed each day, which is about the same as one-half cup. When putting the 90/10 rule into practice, this means treats should not exceed 2 tablespoons. A few small chicken treats are all they should have each day.
For spring-born chicks moving to the coop, continue feeding a complete starter-grower feed until week 18. Wait until the first egg to introduce treats as growing birds require all 38 nutrients in their starter-grower feed to support strong growth.
What are the best treats for chickens?
Treats like scraps, scratch grains and mealworms are like candy for birds, which can quickly spoil their diet. The best treats for chickens are natural, healthy and wholesome.
Purina ® Farm to Flock ™ Treats allow you to spoil your hens but not their diet. Hens receive a mix of grains with vitamins, minerals and amino acids in every bite. These healthy chicken treats are a perfect complement to complete feed.
Purina ® Farm to Flock ™ Treats are available in both 13% protein and 20% protein options. The high protein treat option provides an extra nutritional boost to keep birds strong during times like molt.
What can chickens eat?
If birds free-range or have treat access, start by feeding their complete feed in the morning before they go out exploring. Remember that scratch grains should be viewed as a treat and not be mixed with the complete feed.
Chickens are natural foragers, so trying new foods is inevitable. Chickens tend to avoid foods that are bad or harmful for them, but some are healthier than others.
When it comes to foraging, there is a lengthy list of plants that chickens love as treats. Dark leafy greens can result in darker, richer yolks. Lettuce, kale, turnip greens and chard are great greens options. Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries make healthy snacks for chickens when fed in moderation.
A few flock favorites include:
- Vegetables: Lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, swiss chard, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers
- Herbs: Lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme and basil
- Perennials: Daylilies, hostas, daisies, roses, coneflowers and ferns
If birds are free-ranging, they will find their favorite plants and snack on them. Install a chicken fence or tunnel in the yard to keep them away from your favorite gardens and consider planting a chicken-friendly garden for them to explore. Place a Purina ® Flock Block supplement in the yard to encourage natural pecking.
What not to feed chickens
Avoid treats that may cause an off-flavor in eggs. Garlic and onions are the two most common culprits that may impact egg flavor.
A few other foods should be avoided because they contain toxins that can make birds ill or even be fatal.
- Avocado pits and skins are toxic to chickens as they contain a toxin called persin. The flesh of the avocado is fine for chickens.
- Undercooked or dried beans can be harmful because they contain a compound known as hemagglutinin, which can inhibit digestion of everything the bird eats.
- Rhubarb contains anthraquinones, which can have a laxative effect. Rhubarb damaged by the severe cold can also contain a high concentration of oxalic acid, which can be fatal to chickens.
- Moldy, rotten foods and very salty foods can result in excessively wet feces and may be toxic.
Feeding chickens a balanced and complete diet is simple if you follow the 90/10 rule and are mindful of the foods your birds have access to. Start with a complete feed as the baseline and then be careful not to over-treat your birds with goodies. When you do provide treats, choose healthy, wholesome treats that complement a bird’s diet.
Ready to see the difference a complete feed can make in your flock? Sign-up for the Feed Greatness ® Challenge. *
Introduction: PVC Chicken Feeder
We wanted a lot from our chicken feeder: it had to be easy to fill, hard to spill, safe from non-chicken life forms, weather resistant, easy to make, and inexpensive. We tried a number of other designs that worked to varying degrees, but this was the only one that did all we asked it to. Enjoy!
Step 1: Trial and Error
There are lots of PVC chicken feeders out there, and several folks have gone with a design very similar to this one. But I haven’t seen the extra three-inch piece added to the Y connector: without that small extension the chickens managed to spill quite a lot of food, but that three-inch piece cut spillage to almost zero!
We tried a 180-degree elbow with the edge cut off: the birds were able to eat just fine but they spilled quite a lot, and closing the pipe for waterproofing and rodent-proofing would have required additional engineering. We considered quite a few other variations, but they all had drawbacks; mostly related to spillage and security.
At first the bottom part connected to the “Y” was only three inches long and the birds didn’t like that much, so we set it up on a brick and the chickens seemed to like the altitude better, so the final version uses a six-inch length of pipe to place the food where the chickens can easily reach it.
Another way to go (and in response to some reader comments): if you add some kind of plug right at the bottom of the Y, the birds would be able to reach all the food. It will take you more than 3 minutes to assemble, but it would be more efficient. Of course, it’s best to use plastic or something else that can be thoroughly cleaned. Most of the plugs I see out there would work, but you’d be back to the height problem (if you’re concerned about chicken ergonomics). Easy to fix: just mount the feeder higher. Or: run a long carriage bolt through the base cap (or plug), letting the end stick out and hit the ground, like the spike that sticks out of the bottom of a stand-up bass or cello.
Step 2: Materials, Tools
We settled on three inch PVC pipe: two or four would work, too. The pipe itself normally comes in 10-foot sections, so you can get one of those and make at least three feeders using these dimensions.
-Three inch diameter pipe: 20 inches long. Or more. Or less.
-Three inch diameter pipe: 6 inches long
-Three inch diameter pipe: 3 inches long
-45-degree “Y” connector, like this, but this would be quite cool, too.
-Two three-inch PVC caps, like this.
Step 3: Assemble
Assemble according to the image, following the tiny instructions on the label of your PVC cement. Glue only the three pieces that touch the the “Y” splitter and the bottom cap.
It only took like three minutes, didn’t it?
Let it cure for 24 hours, or until it is no longer stinky.
Actually, you can get by without gluing at all, as long as you’re careful when filling and moving: it would be no fun if the bottom cap fell off of a full feeder during transport! But then it would only take like a minute and a half to build, right?
Step 4: Enjoy!
Remove the top cap to fill using a funnel, bungee the feeder to something, and invite the birds!
Place the cap over the opening at night to make the feeder weather- and critter-proof.
UPDATE: To add awesomeness, do what Flodado did:
5 People Made This Project!
Did you make this project? Share it with us!
A layer feeding and weight chart is an essential management tool for poultry producers. The chart allows farmers to track the weight gain and feed intake of their layers so that they can adjust their feeding program as needed. By monitoring these two factors, farmers can ensure that their layers are getting the right amount of food and putting on the correct amount of weight.
Layer feeding guide for your chickens will help them get the right kind of nutrition and lay eggs regularly. Different types of feed are important for different age groups, so it is important to follow a layer feeding guide to keep your hens healthy and laying eggs.
Layer feeding is an important part of rearing egg-laying chickens. A well-fed hen will produce more eggs than a malnourished one. There is a standard feeding schedule or chart that serious egg-laying chicken farmers need to follow for optimal performance and production.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question; each farm must create a feeding schedule that works best for its needs and location. In this post, we will explore the standard layer feeding guide or layer feed consumption chart.
Layer Feeding Program
Layers chicken feeding program is in three phases based on their age. Layers have three diets and they are:
- Chick Starter diet: 0 to 6 weeks
- Grower diet: 7 to 18 weeks
- Layer diet: 19 to end of lay
Layers Feeding Schedule & Weight Chart
As a poultry farmer, it is important that you know if your layer chickens are performing according to the standard. That is, knowing if they are eating and growing as required. This will help you know if they are converting their feed well.
Below is a table showing the standard growth rate and feed intake for layers.
The table below will answer the following questions:
- What quantity of feed will a pullet consume/eat between day old (DOC) to point of lay (POL)?
- What quantity/amount of feed should a layer eat per day/week?
- What volume of water should a layer drink per day/week?
- What is the growth rate of layers or laying chickens?
- What is the average weight of a layer each week?
- When should I change from starter (chick mash) to grower diet, and from grower diet to layer diet?
Layer Feed Consumption and Weight Chart [Jpeg]
Layer Chicken Feeding Guide PDF
Managing the feed requirements and nutritional needs of layer chickens is crucial for optimizing flock performance. Find below the link to download the layer feeding guide and management guide (PDF) for layer chickens.
FAQs about Layer Chicken Feeding Guide
1. How much feed does a layer chicken eat per day?
A layer chicken needs to eat or consume 110 grams or 0.110 kg of feed.
2. How much feed per layer chicken in her lifetime?
A layer chicken can last up to 2 years and would have consumed nearly 69kg of feed from day old until 2 years old of age.
3. How to calculate feed intake in poultry?
You can easily calculate feed intake by dividing the quantity to feed consumed by the number of chickens served.
4. How to feed layers from day old?
From day old to 6 weeks of age, give chick starter feed. From 7 weeks until egg production reaches 10%, give grower feed. You can give layer feed from the period when egg production is 10%.
5. What is the standard feeder space for bird with 0-18 days old?
The standard feeder space is 2 inches or 5 cm per chick.
Chickens are common passive mobs in Minecraft that can be bred to harvest feathers, eggs, and raw chicken. They have a white body, small yellow legs, wings that will flap anytime they are falling or jumping over a block, and red wattles under their mouths. They will wander aimlessly in the world but will avoid falling off of cliffs. Players can hear the chicken when it is idly cucking or upon laying an egg. To breed chickens, gather 2 chickens by leading them into your pen while holding seeds. Then, feed each of these chicken seeds till hearts, signaling successful breeding, start to appear.
Chickens are the easiest animals to breed because seeds are more plentiful than wheat and they generate eggs that can be thrown to make chicks. Chickens have one of the lowest health values in the game, beat only by various fish. Chicken eggs are used to make different food items in the game like cake or pumpkin pie.
|Adult Chickens: Two Full Hearts, Baby Chicks: One Full Heart||Adult Chickens: 0-2 Feathers, 1 Raw Chicken, Baby Chicks: Nothing||Adult Chickens: Grass blocks with light level 7 or higher, Baby Chicks: Grass blocks with light level 7 or higher.||Adult Chickens: 1-3 EXP orbs, Baby Chicks: Nothing|
Chickens have a white body and small yellow legs. They also have red wattles under their mouths.
They also have wings that will flap anytime they are falling or jumping over a block. If you are close enough to a chicken you can hear the chicken idly clucking. Baby chicks are identical to adult chickens, just much smaller.
Chickens will wander aimlessly but will avoid falling off of cliffs. This is interesting as chickens are immune to fall damage, flailing their wings as they slowly descend to the ground. If damaged the chicken will run quickly away from the source of the damage. If a chicken is in a loaded chunk the chicken will lay an egg every 5-10 minutes. If the player is close enough to the chicken you can hear an audible “pop” sound indicating an egg was laid nearby.
If you are holding any seeds, the chicken will look at and follow you until you get too far away or break the line of sight.
How to Breed Chickens in Minecraft
There are two ways you can breed chickens in Minecraft. If you have a chicken in a pen you can wait for it to lay an egg. Every egg you throw has a ⅛ chance of spawning a chick.
If you manage to find two chickens you can feed them both any seeds in the game to have them start breeding
If the seed is in the in-game name, you can feed it to chickens. Feeding baby chicken seeds will accelerate their growth by 10%.
How to Tame a Chicken in Minecraft
Unfortunately, there is no way to tame a chicken and have it follow you around and sit like you can with a wolf. You can hold seeds to have nearby chickens follow you, but they will lose interest as soon as you walk away or break the line of sight.
The best you can do is set up a pen and lead the chickens into it. Be careful that foxes do not get in your pen!
Do thrown eggs inflict damage?
Thrown eggs do no damage but will aggro-neutral mobs. Just like snowballs, they are not very good for fighting but can make for a fun multiplayer experience by throwing eggs at each other. You can throw chicken eggs into your chicken coop without worry, the chickens hit by the eggs will run and seem like they took damage, but thrown eggs will deal zero hearts of damage.
What do you feed chickens in Minecraft?
Chickens will eat any kind of seeds in the game. Feeding chickens seeds are how you breed chickens and get a chicken farm started.
Do chickens lay eggs in the nether?
Chickens will lay eggs in the nether. Chickens lay eggs every 5-10 minutes you can keep chickens in the nether if you want.
It seems nothing can stop the miracle of life.
What happens if you give a chicken a diamond in Minecraft?
You cannot give a chicken a diamond. There was an April Fool’s event in the Java edition of Minecraft that rarely caused a diamond chicken to spawn instead of a regular chicken. This chicken would lay diamonds and lapis lazuli instead of eggs but would explode if aggroed.
How high can chickens jump in Minecraft?
Chickens are able to jump one block in height. They cannot jump over fences that register as one and a half blocks high. A chicken can fall from the sky and safely land on bedrock as chickens do not take fall damage.
Did you know?
In Bedrock Edition, baby zombies will search out nearby chickens to ride them into battle. While a baby zombie is riding a chicken, the chicken will move at the speed of the baby zombie. In the java edition, some baby zombies will spawn already riding a chicken.
Foxes will attack any nearby chickens and can jump higher than the one and a half blocks of fences! Keep your chickens contained and your pen’s walls high to prevent foxes from massacring your chickens.
Introduction: PVC Chicken Feeder
A simple, inexpensive way to feed the chicks and minimize waste!
Step 1: Parts Needed!
For this project, we found everything at Lowe’s. We opted for PVC drain pipe rather than the schedule 40 (standard) PVC pipe & other pieces due to length of the curve at the bottom when completed & cost of pieces. Here’s the supply list:
10′ piece of 3inch PVC drain pipe
4 – 3inch 90 degree street elbows
4 – 3inch 45 degree elbows
4 – 3inch threaded caps
4 – 3inch cap adapters
screws with rubber washers (length doesn’t matter tremendously)
metal pipe strap
2 – 3inch PVC pipe caps (standard, not drain caps) This is for the update given later.
Step 2: Putting Them Together!
First, cut the connecting end of the drain pipe off. This is the 6 inch wider end of the pipe. You can use a saw, but I used our power miter saw and it did a great job, leaving a smooth finish to the cut end. Please have someone hold for long end of the pipe when you cut so that it doesn’t pop back on you.
Cut the remaining pipe into 4 equal sections. I cut mine at 27 1/2 inch lengths.
Connect the 90 degree fitting to one end, then a 45 degree fitting to the 90. I didn’t use any glue or screws to connect the fittings. They fit together tightly. I wanted it to be able to take apart to clean when necessary.
Place cap adapter on other end. I did have to use a screw in one of my cap adapters due to it having a loose fit and spinning on the pipe. Screw cap into adapter.
Assemble all the pipes and you are ready to install!
Step 3: Installation!
Here’s where you have to make it fit your coop. I chose to put it in the middle of the coop wall so that it has the most protection from rain. I installed a piece of 1X4 (shown in picture) to give me an area level with my bottom board. I painted the board and allowed it to dry.
Using the metal strap, mount the pipe at the intervals that you decide. I suggest doing the top strap first. I chose to use a single piece of the strap instead of cutting 4 sections. I didn’t measure the strap but can tell you that I place a screw every 18th hole to secure the pipe. Secure the bottom with metal strap as you did the top. The pipe will be a little loose, but that is necessary for now. You will tighten towards the end.
(My chicks were quite curious during this project!)
Step 4: Adjusting Height for Your Flock
The height of the feeders will depend on the coop and the chickens. I have 2 bantams in my flock, so I positioned mine to make sure it was easy for them to reach. Once the night is determine, drill 2 holes in the pipe using the holes in the straps as the guide.
If your feeders are placed on an outer wall and will not need to be raised, skip this next step.
If your feeders will be in a place that will block areas that need to be cleaned such as ours, follow this additional step. Before putting the screws in place, raise the feeder up as high as possible and drill a hole in the pipe using the bottom metal strap as the guide. A screw placed through the strap and into the pipe using this new hole will keep the feeder up and out of the way when you are cleaning and maintaining your coop. When lowered for the chicks to use, keep the screw in place to keep the feed from coming out. The rubber washer screws work the best.
Once your holes have been drilled, move the feeder pipes into place and secure them to the metal straps using the screws. You’re almost ready.
Step 5: Tighten the Straps
Now is the time to tighten those straps if necessary. I used my multi-tool knife to press and bend the straps around the pipe. A little pressure on the metal strap with any flat edge tool should be all you need to tighten the pipe to the wall. Do both sides of the pipe to ensure a good fit.
Step 6: Fill Them Up!
Ok, you are now ready to fill them up with feed! We use crushed feed, but I am pretty sure pellet feed will work in the feeders as well. Remove the screw in lid and pour in the feed. I set the lid on the opening of the feeder to keep the feed from coming out while filling the pipe.
Replace the lid and get ready for the chicks to have a feast!
Note: If you are getting close to time to clean your coop and the feeders are in a place such as ours (in the middle of the run area), fill only as much as your chickens will eat by the time it is cleaning time. You want to have the feed below all the screw holes before removing the screws to raise the feeders up. The amount wasted when the screws are removed is minimal if you have to raise them before the feed is below the screw holes, but I prefer not to make a mess if possible. I don’t think this would be an issue with pellet feed.
Step 7: Happy Chicks Lay Yummy Eggs!
Here is the finished feeders! As you see, the girls seem to like it. They didn’t waste any time trying it out. Now, we will see if they can keep the coop a little cleaner by not scattering the feed.
Hope you find this helpful!
Step 8: UPDATE.
Added the cap after noticing the girls were scattering the feed more than we had anticipated, negating the entire reason for this project. Well, a simple fix did the trick! We purchased 2 of the standard PVC 3inch caps and cut them in half. That covered the end a little too much for our bantams, so we removed them and cut a little more off. It ended up being about a 1/3 of the cap for the right coverage. If you use a power miter saw, make sure to have a board to hold in place. We had a bit of an issue, but my hubby used boards to hold it in place while cutting. The first cut was a little scary, but the cap was salvageable.
We used a short screw in the bottom to secure the cap in place. The screw should be just long enough to secure the cap to the bottom.
I did put a board under the feeders for my bantams. They were having to stretch their little necks a little too much to reach the feed. I will replace the board with a couple of nice stepping stones in a couple of days.
Starting a Flock : Chick Nutrition
Starting a Flock : Caring for Chicks
Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions
6-week-old chickens should be ready to move from the brooder to the chicken coop if the outdoor temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Make the transition from the brooder to the chicken coop slowly so chicks can acclimate to their new home. Continue feeding the same Purina ® complete starter-grower feed you started your chicks on, until they reach 18 weeks of age.
Cheers to your baby chicks growing into 6-week-old chickens! You started them strong in week 1, kept the growing going in weeks 2 and 3 and started the teenage stage in weeks 4 and 5. Your pullets and cockerels are likely ready to move from the brooder to the chicken coop.
Between weeks 6 and 8, your chicks will experience rapid growth and will need twice the floor space they started with. Prepare the chicken coop as the flock’s new home, paying close attention to predator-proofing steps. If outside weather is warm enough, you can now begin introducing your pullets and cockerels to the chicken coop.
Here are a few tips to ease the transition from brooder to chicken coop:
Remove the supplemental heat:
Move the chick brooder into the chicken coop:
Release chicks inside the coop:
Consider free-ranging chickens:
If you are going to let your birds wander outside of the safety of their coop and run, they should be supervised until they are acclimated to their surroundings. Remember they are still easy prey for predators. Start with small periods of supervised free-ranging time in the garden and work up to longer periods. Maintain a routine with how and when you let the chickens free-range.
Before opening the coop, offer the flock their complete starter-grower feed and fresh water. Make sure they eat their breakfast before foraging in the yard for dessert. A complete starter-grower feed should comprise at least 90 percent of their overall diet.
Keep the chicken coop clean:
Keep young pullets and cockerels separate from older chickens until they reach the same size.
This allows you to monitor the birds closely, prevent fighting and any possible illness from spreading to either group.
One way to help both groups acclimate to each other is to place the two groups in side-by-side runs. Place the groups next to one another for one week to help the birds become familiar with each other. This can also alert you to potential personality clashes that may be difficult to resolve.
Another strategy is to let the new group free-range first and then introduce the existing flock. This places the focus on new surroundings rather than new flock members.
In either case, add additional feeders and waterers to the run to prevent the new birds from being deterred from eating and drinking. You can also place a Purina ® Flock Block ® with the mature flock as an alternative place to peck. During the introduction period, a new pecking order will be established.
Watch the group closely after the introduction. Content birds will continue their routines without changes in personality or feed consumption. Consistency is especially important during transitions, so continue providing free-choice, high-quality, complete feed and fresh water.
Continue feeding a complete Purina ® starter-grower feed:
Some chicken raisers ask us how long to feed chick starter feed or when to switch chicks to a grower feed. With the Purina ® Flock Strong ® Feeding Program, keep chicks on the same feed from day 1 to week 18. Our starter-grower feeds are formulated to provide all 38 essential nutrients chicks need from day 1 to week 18.
Continue to offer the same complete chick starter feed you’ve been feeding since day 1. If you started chicks on a medicated feed, it’s important to continue feeding that same medicated feed until birds reach maturity.
- For chicks vaccinated for coccidiosis:Purina ® Start & Grow ®
- For chicks not vaccinated for coccidiosis (or unsure of vaccination status):Purina ® Start & Grow ® Medicated
- For organic chicks:Purina ® Organic starter-grower
- For ducklings:Purina ® Duck FeedorPurina ® Flock Raiser ®
- For mixed flocks:Purina ® Flock Raiser ®
- For broiler chicks:Purina ® Meat Bird
These starter-grower feeds are formulated to provide all 38 unique nutrients your baby chicks need to start strong and stay strong – no need to supplement with any supplements, including grit. Wait until week 18 to introduce any treats to the diet; at that time, laying breeds can also be transitioned to a complete layer feed.
Now that your flock is in the chicken coop, it’s important to keep the coop clean. Read biosecurity tips from our farm. Have questions? Go to Resources to Help Your Newest Flock Members Thrive for everything you need to start chicks strong.
Starting a Flock : Chick Nutrition
Starting a Flock : Caring for Chicks
Purina Animal Nutrition
To start baby chicks strong, provide a complete starter-grower feed with all 38 nutrients they need each day. Choosing between a medicated or non-medicated chick starter feed depends on whether or not your baby chicks have been vaccinated for coccidiosis. Continue feeding the same chick starter feed from day 1 until week 18, or when the first egg arrives.
When selecting a chick starter feed, first look for an option that is complete. Complete chick starter feeds from the Purina ® Flock Strong ® Feeding Program are formulated to provide all the nutrients needed in one package. Look for 18 percent protein to support early chick growth, vitamins and minerals for development and ingredients such as prebiotics and probiotics to support chick health.
The option you select should be based on whether or not your chicks have been vaccinated against coccidiosis. Feed Purina ® Start & Grow® Medicated to chicks that have not been vaccinated for the disease, or if you are unsure of vaccination status, and Purina ® Start & Grow, a non-medicated chicks starter feed, to those vaccinated for coccidiosis.
What is coccidiosis in baby chicks?
Coccidiosis is one of the most common diseases chickens face. There are numerous strains with at least seven strains known to affect chickens. This intestinal disease is caused by parasites, called coccidia oocysts, which live in the soil and can be carried by equipment, people or other birds. Keeping the brooder and environment clean for growing baby chicks is a key to helping them grow strong.
Once ingested, these oocysts reproduce in the chicken’s intestinal tract. When the population of oocysts reaches a high enough level, the chick becomes sick. An infection damages the intestinal lining of the bird’s digestive system, preventing nutrient absorption within 4 to 7 days.
Symptoms of coccidiosis in baby chicks often include a change in droppings with blood, mucous or diarrhea. The disruption in the digestive system causes birds to stop eating, seem very tired and experience decreased growth. Impacted birds can appear hunched with ruffled feathers. If symptoms progress rapidly, death is possible.
Baby chicks are most susceptible because their immune system is still developing. When the oocysts enter a chick’s digestive system, it is less able to fight off the infection because the beneficial bacteria in the chick’s digestive system are still growing. Once the chicks have recovered from a coccidiosis infection, they build immunity to that specific strain and are less likely to get sick from that strain again. Just remember that there are several types of coccidiosis that can cause your chickens to get sick.
Coccidiosis is a species-specific disease. This means that you, your children, or your other pets will not get sick from the oocysts in your chickens. That doesn’t mean that they can’t get coccidiosis, but it won’t be because of your chickens.
Prevention through vaccination
One way to prevent coccidiosis is through vaccination. Hatcheries are able to vaccinate chicks prior to shipment. To prevent potential disease problems, purchase chicks from a credible U.S. Pullorum-Typhoid Clean hatchery or your local Purina ® retailer. Ensure the hatchery vaccinated chicks for both coccidiosis and Marek’s Disease, a Herpes virus found in poultry.
Because coccidiosis and Marek’s Disease can impact chicks at a very early age, the vaccinations should be provided at the hatchery in the first few days of life.
If chicks have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, a non-medicated chick starter feed can be provided. Select a complete feed that includes: Enhanced amino acids to promote early chick development; prebiotics and probiotics to support immune health; and a balance of vitamins and minerals to support bone health and bird growth.
Build immunity through chick starter feed
Another way to address coccidiosis in baby chicks is through the feed you provide. Medicated complete feeds, like the medicated option of Purina ® Start & Grow ® , includes Amprolium. Amprolium is a coccidiostat formulated to reduce the growth of the coccidia oocysts, allowing the young chick to develop an immunity to coccidiosis as they grow into adulthood.
Chicks that are fed a cocciodiostat are more able to fight off infection from the environment. This is because the preventative in the medicated chick starter feed can then slow the growth of oocysts while the chicks develop their own immunity.
Be sure to feed a medicated (with Amprolium) chick starter feed to chicks who were not vaccinated for coccidiosis. For chicks that were vaccinated, it will not hurt to feed the medicated version but the added protection may not be needed.
How long do you feed medicated chick starter? Regardless of which chick starter feed you choose for your baby chicks, feed the same starter-grower feed from day 1 through week 18, or when the first egg arrives. At this time, you can begin the transition to a layer feed.
In either case, be sure to provide a clean, warm and draft-free brooder along with fresh feed and water. Comfortable, well-cared for chicks are most often the happiest and healthiest.
Want more tips on how to start your chicks strong? Visit our Chick Resource Center for everything you need to start chicks strong.
Housing is very important factor for poultry farming and how to build a poultry house is a common question for the producers. Basically the poultry housing is the main process of keeping your birds healthy, fast growing and producing the maximum.
You have to make proper poultry housing plans such as Easycoops.com before starting poultry farming business or making a poultry house.
Whether you start a commercial or small scale poultry production, good shelter or housing facility is a must for keeping your birds safe and happy.
For small scale poultry production, you can build the house without spending much money. You can make the walls of earth with wooden posts or with clay bricks. The roof can be made using straw or with big leaves, or even with old sheet iron.
But for commercial or large scale production, the house or shelter must have to have all required facilities for the birds. Some people also prefer keeping their birds on cages.
However, if you are looking for information about how to build a poultry house, then you are in the right place. Here we are trying to describe more information about building a good house for your poultry birds.
All Page Contents
How to Build a Poultry House
Making a suitable house for the poultry birds is very easy and simple, especially if you are going to build the house for a few birds. But you have to hire an expert if you want to start commercial poultry farming business. Here we are shortly describing about the steps for building a poultry house.
Choose A Good Place
First of all, choose a suitable place for building your poultry house or chicken coop. The selected land must have to be free from all types of noises and pollution.
It will be better if the selected land become far from the residential area.
But if you are willing to raise only a few birds, then you can build the house at any corner of your home.
Just ensure that the place is calm, quiet and free from predators.
Determine The Type
There are many ways of making a poultry house. So, you have to choose the proper method on how you will build a poultry house.
You have to make a proper and affordable poultry housing design first to become successful in chicken farming.
You can either make a simple house or a modern house with high-end facilities.
For small scale production, we recommend building a floor based house with basic facilities.
But for commercial production, consult with an expert. Today, there are some companies available which provide complete poultry house construction service.
Some types of poultry houses are brooder or chick house, grower house, brooder cum grower house, layer house, broiler house, breeder house environmentally controlled house etc.
Before making chicken coop, you have to keep in mind about some important factors. And these factors include well ventilation service, free from predators or enemies, sufficient health facilities etc.
Be sure all these facilities are fully available in your designed poultry house.
For successful poultry farming the chicken coop should contain some necessary facilities like it will be well ventilated, sufficient flow of air and sunlight will be available inside the poultry house. It would be better, if the house become south faced. The house must have to be free from harmful animals and birds.
Make Room For New Birds
Keep the new chickens and the hen for sale separated from each other. The hen for sale should kept in another house.
Before making houses for poultry birds, keep in mind that every broiler chicken needs around 2 square feet space inside the house. And a layer bird requires around 4 to 5 square feet place.
Suppose you have decided to make a poultry house for 1000 laying chickens, then the area of the poultry house will be between 400 and 500 square feet. Keep the food and feeding equipment in regular distance according to the number of chickens and their daily food demands.
Feeding troughs should be sufficient in number and long enough for each bird to have it’s place when it want’s to eat.
The feeding troughs should not be too wide, so that the birds can’t leave their droppings in them.
Most of the poultry birds drink a lot of water daily. So, keep several drinking troughs inside the house depending on the number of birds.
The drinking troughs must be big enough and in sufficient numbers to hold plenty of water. The troughs should be big enough for a number of birds to drink without getting in each other’s way.
Always try to keep the water clean. And do not let the chicks fall into the water. You can use bowls or buckets put on a stand or let into the ground and partly covered by netting.
Proper lighting facility is a must. Light should be provided at 7 to 8 feet above the ground level and must be hanged from ceiling. The distance between 2 bulbs is 10 feet, if you use incandescent bulbs. The distance should be 15 feet, in case of fluorescent lights (tube lights).
Useful Tips For Building A Poultry House
Here we are describing about some essential information about building a good housing system for your poultry birds.
- The poultry house must have to be well ventilated.
- Ensure sufficient entrance of sunlight and fresh air inside the house.
- It will be better if the house become situated north to south faced.
- If you make several houses, then the proper distance of one house to another house is about 40 feet.
- Clean the house properly before keeping the birds inside the poultry house.
- Make a deep liter and keep it dry and clean always.
- You can use rice bran or something like this for making liter.
- Keep feed and feeding equipment in proper distance inside the poultry house according to the number and demand of poultry birds.
- The poultry house and all equipment must have to be free from virus, parasites and germs.
- Build the poultry house in such a place where all the poultry birds are free from all types of wild animals and other predators.
- The poultry housing area will be free from loud sound/sound pollution.
- Make the poultry house in quite and calm place.
- It will be better if you can build the house in an open air place.
However, to be successful in poultry farming business, you must have to be aware in making the poultry house. Be sure that all necessary equipment and facilities are available inside the poultry house. Good luck!