Different Types of Chicken Feed Explained

May 26 , 2022

Different Types of Chicken Feed Explained

Have you ever wondered what the difference between Mash and Crumble, in terms of chicken feed, is?  Or, what about Grower Chicken Feed and Layer Chicken Feed?  Here are the different types of chicken feed and their explanations:

  1. Starter Chicken Feed is a protein dense variety of chicken feed designed to meet the dietary requirements of baby chicks.  The high protein content, usually between 20-24%, helps young chicks grow into pullets; however, you should phase out the starter feed once the baby chicks are 6 weeks old, otherwise the excess protein can cause liver damage.
  2. Grower Chicken Feed contains a protein content that is between 16-18% but has less calcium than regular layer feed.  Grower feed supports the continuing growth of your teenage chickies without bombarding them with unnecessary vitamins and minerals that are more suited for fully grown hens.  Once your girls start laying eggs that’s a good sign that they are ready for layer feed.
  3. Layer Chicken Feed is a balance of protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals that encourages top tier egg laying abilities.  It has the same percentage of protein as grower feed, but it also has extra calcium to ensure that eggshells are crisp, clean, and crunchy.  Layer feed should only be fed to chickens around 20 weeks of age or once teenage chookies start laying eggs.
  4. Mash is a loose and unprocessed version of chicken feed with a similar texture to that of potting soil.  Chickens at any age can eat this feed, but is most commonly used for baby chickens.  You can add hot water to mash to create a porridge like texture that your flock will chow down on, but this method can also cause the feed to expire more quickly.
  5. Crumble is a coarse variety of mash but not as compact as pellets.  Its texture is like oatmeal and is slightly easier to manage than mash.
  6. Pellets are possibly the most common variety of chicken feed available.  They are easy to manage, store, and serve.  They also hold their shape meaning they won’t go to waste if your chickens knocks over their feeder.
  7. Shell Grit has two key benefits for chickens:  it’s a rich source of calcium AND it helps with digestion.  Chickens store shell grit in their gizzard which assists them in pulverizing their feed and helps with digesting their food with ease.  All mature chickens need shell grit in their diet and it should be served in a separate dish from their regular laying feed.
  8. Chicken Scratch is more like a treat for your chickens and consist mostly of cracked corn and other grains.  It is a great source of energy and should be enjoyed by your flock every now and then.
  9. Medicated chicken feed is common among starter and growing varieties as it is an easy way to help prevent coccidiosis and other fowl diseases in your flock.  It contains amprolium which is a chemical that helps protect the chickens from dangerous and deadly diseases that they can catch when young.  Do not use medicated feed if your chickens have been vaccinated, as the effects of the amprolium are not compatible with the vaccination.
  10. Fermented Feed is an easy way to improve the feed’s vitamin and enzyme content of the food, as well as making the feed easier to digest while also neutralizing toxicity.  Another benefit is that due to its density it helps your chickens feel fuller for longer, and with that comes decrease in cost of feed and fewer chicken droppings.
  11. Broiler Varieties of chicken feed are available for people who are raising chickens for consumption.  There are three broiler varieties:  starter, grower, and finisher.  This feed is denser in protein which encourages the flow to grow bigger, faster.  You definitely DO NOT want to feed your laying hens any broiler variety as the excess protein is not always good for your flock’s health.

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