Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide

Oct 10, 2019 | Publisher: Mile Four | Category: Other |   | Views: 31 | Likes: 2

1  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Table of Contents  Chapter 1: Types of Chicken Feed…………………………...…. 3  ● The Four Types of Chicken Feed  ● Feed Comparison Chart    Chapter 2: What to Feed Chickens…………………………….. 7  ● Layers (Egg-Laying Birds)  ● 16% vs. 18% Protein Chicken Feed  ● How to Transition Feed  ● Corn-Free and Soy-Free Chicken Feed  ● How to Feed a Mixed Flock    Chapter 3: Supplements for Chickens……………………..…. 13  ● Grit  ● Oyster Shell  ● Additional Supplements    Chapter 4: Treats for Chickens………………………………...…. 16  ● Scratch  ● Summer Treats  ● Mealworms  ● What Not to Feed Chickens    Chapter 5: Fermenting Chicken Feed…………………………. 22  ● Benefits of Fermenting Chicken Feed  ● How to Ferment Chicken Feed    Chapter 6: Homemade Chicken Feed…………………………. 26  ● Why Homemade Chicken Feed  ● Homemade Chicken Feed for Layers    Chapter 7: Free-Ranging Chickens…………………………….. 28  ● Allowing Chickens to Free-Range  ● Pros & Cons of Free-Ranging Chickens    Chapter 8: Feeders & Storage………………………………….…. 30  ● Types of Feeders  ● Feed Storage 2  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Introduction  Welcome to The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide. If you are new to chickens  or looking to get back into the wonderful world of backyard chicken  keeping, you've come to the right place.  This guide covers everything you need to know about feeding your  chickens, including supplements, treats, storage, and more!          3  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  The Four Types of Chicken Feed  Whole Grains  Whole grain feed is composed of  cracked grains and other  unprocessed ingredients. You can  see the ingredients in the feed as it  is still in a natural state. The  granola-like texture is fun for  chickens to eat as it encourages a  natural pecking instinct and the  pieces are large enough for the chickens to grab. The vitamins and  minerals are bound to the feed with soybean oil or flax oil so they are  getting a balanced meal.    Mash  Mash is an unprocessed form of  feed composed of ground-up  grains and other ingredients.  Mash is most commonly fed to  chicks since it is easier for them  to consume. Since mash is so  finely ground up, it easily goes to  waste on the ground (chickens  are messy eaters!). Many people like to ferment their mash to get a thicker  texture that is easier to manage. We'll get to fermentation later on in this  guide.    4  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Pellets  Pellets are the most common  form of chicken feed available.  They are easy to manage, and  the compact cylinders minimize  waste. Pellets are processed by  grinding up the ingredients and  molding them into an oblong  shape.  Crumbles  Crumbles are pellets that have  been broken up. The texture isn’t  as fine as mash, so it is a little  easier to manage. It is comparable  to oats in that there are very small  pieces that all look the same.     So what's the difference? Reference the chart below to decipher between  the different feed types.   5  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    Next, we'll discuss the differences in chicken feed for each life stage.   6  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  ​Layers (Egg-Laying Birds)  Chickens of different ages need to be fed different food. While the  ingredients are pretty much the same, the ratios for certain nutrients vary  for each life stage.   Chicks (0-8 weeks)  From the day chicks hatch until  they are eight weeks of age, they  are fed starter feed, which is  typically 20 - 24% protein. Baby  chicks eat about 1 lb. of feed a  week.      7  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Growers (8-18/20 weeks)  Growers are like teenagers. They  need to eat grower feed starting  at eight weeks of age until they  start laying eggs, which will be  around 18 to 20 weeks of age.  Grower feed is typically 17 -  18% protein and has higher fat  and fiber content than starter  and layer feed to support their rapid growth. Growers eat about 1 1/2 lbs.  of feed a week.  Layers (18/20+ weeks)  From the moment hens start  laying eggs onward, they should  be fed layer feed. Layer feed is  16% - 18% protein and contains  more calcium than grower and  starter feed to help produce  strong eggshells. Laying hens eat  about 1 1/2 lbs. to 1 3/4 lbs. of  feed a week.  16% vs 18% Protein Chicken Feed  Since layer feed is available in 16% and 18% protein, how do you decide  which one to get?  8  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Normally, 16% protein is the perfect formulation for your flock, but some  flock-keepers decide to get 18% during cold winters or if their hens are  molting.  It's a personal decision, as your hens will be getting a complete, balanced  meal either way.   How to Transition Feed  Whether you are switching feed brands or transitioning your girls from  starter or grower, we recommend slowly transitioning your chickens so  their bodies have time to adjust to the new feed.   The time it takes to transition can vary, but feel free to reference the chart  below and make adjustments as you see fit.    9  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Corn-Free and Soy-Free Chicken Feed  Corn and soy are very common ingredients in chicken feed.  Soybean meal is used for its high protein content and amino acids.  Many people choose to avoid soy and corn in chicken feed due to allergic  reactions from eggs laid by chickens on corn and soy diets.   Also, some people choose to avoid soy due to its high levels of  phytoestrogens, a plant compound known to disrupt hormone functions  and other disruptive health effects.  Corn/soy-free chicken feeds contain field peas and other grains as the  source of protein and carbs.  Field peas are a much more nutrient-dense protein source than soy and  pose no potential side effects for those eating egg by-products.  This is why the demand for corn/soy-free chicken feed has been growing  exponentially, as education on this topic continues to reach more chicken  lovers.  Don't worry, Mile Four's corn/soy-meal free feed does contain amino acids,  so your chickens aren't missing out on any key nutrients.  10  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    How to Feed a Mixed Flock  So now that you know what chickens eat at different points in their life,  what happens if you throw in a few ducks to the mix? Or what happens if  you get more chicks in addition to your laying girls? Things can get pretty  corn-fusing when it comes to feeding time.   Use this chart below to determine what to feed a mixed flock.  11  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    12  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  In addition to serving your feather squad healthy food (and plenty of  water), there are a few super important supplements you should provide to  your chickens.    Grit for Chickens  Chickens don’t have teeth, so they need to have grit with their food to help  them digest it.  Grit is crushed up stone that comes in different sizes for different ages of  birds.  The grit is stored in the gizzard to help grind down food correctly. Without  grit, the food doesn't get ground up, which prevents nutrients from being  absorbed.    13  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Even if your flock is free-range and finding grit in the yard, we recommend  supplementing their feed with grit to avoid digestive issues that are  common without grit.  Offer your chickens the appropriate sized grit free-choice in a separate  container near their feed. Laying hens will instinctively take as much as  they need.    Oyster Shells for Chickens   Laying hens need additional calcium to support egg production. Oyster  shell is one of the best ways to provide calcium to hens.   All you have to do is put some in a separate dish near their food.   Growers and chicks do not need this extra calcium supplement. In fact, if  they eat food with too much calcium in it, this could cause serious damage  to their bodies.  14  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  If you have growers mixed in with your layers, don't worry. Growers  instinctively know not to eat the calcium, just as layers instinctively know  they need to eat the extra calcium.  So why exactly do layers need this extra calcium? The eggshells they lay  are mainly composed of calcium. If they aren't getting enough calcium, the  eggshells become soft and the hen's health is compromised.   There are some people who crush up used eggshells and give those to  their chickens as a supplemental source of calcium. The issue with this  method is that once they learn to eat their own eggshells, they might start  pecking at their freshly laid eggs, which of course we don't want to  happen.   Once your chickens start laying eggs, simply pour some oyster shell in a  container for your ladies, and they will take as much as they need.       15  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Additional Supplements for Chickens  While oyster shell and grit are high-priority supplements, there are many  others available that help promote the health of your chickens.   Electrolytes can be especially beneficial for chickens during hot summers  when dehydration can be a real problem.   Other supplements help promote healthy digestion, provide immune  system support, and improve egg production and quality.   Here are a few good ones you can find on Amazon:  ● WornBGone Chicken Nest Herbs by Pampered Chicken Mama  ● Coop Kelp by Fresh Eggs Daily  ● Brewer’s Yeast with Garlic Powder by Fresh Eggs Daily  ● Electrolyte and Vitamin Supplement by Sav-A-hick    16  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Scratch  Scratch is a delicious treat for chickens, but it should not be confused with  chicken feed (a complete meal).  Scratch is a great tool to use when trying to get your flock in the coop at  night or if you just want to be a hero with your gals.   Don't go overboard with this stuff! Scratch should be given sparingly and  make up no more than 10% of their total diet.     Summer Treats for Chickens  Speaking of treats... if you are looking for a good way to cool down your  flock on a hot day, try making these frozen treats with your ice cube trays!  These summer treats are especially easy for those who have a garden  handy for fresh ingredients. Be sure not to use any rotten or moldy foods,  though.  17  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    18  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    19  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Mealworms for Chickens  Mealworms are a high-protein treat for chickens that have many benefits:   ● Help grow feathers back after molting  ● Boost the immune system in chickens  ● Rich with vitamins and minerals  ● Supports healthy egg production  Here are just a few of many different results people have experienced with  mealworms:  ● Hens started laying larger eggs   ● Hens lay more often in the winter when mealworms are given in  place of bugs and insects  ● Getting the chickens in the coop at night has been successful  with the help of mealworms  ● Chickens went through molting season with less struggle thanks  to mealworms  Make sure to not overdo it with these delicious treats. Aim for no more  than ten worms per chicken a day.     20  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  What Not to Feed Chickens   Since chickens will eat almost anything, it's important not to treat them like  a garbage disposal. If you give your chickens leftovers or unused garden  goodies, be careful not to feed them certain foods that can be toxic to  them.   Reference the list below to make sure you are giving your flock safe foods.    21  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Now, let's move on to more healthy things to fill your chickens' bellies.    Benefits of Fermenting Chicken Feed  Fermenting chicken feed is a great way to boost the health of your flock in  so many ways. Here are just a few of the benefits:  ● Improve digestion  ● Absorb more vitamins and minerals  ● Strengthen immune system  ● Buy less feed  Buy less feed? Yes, chickens will eat 1/4 to 1/3 less feed when they are  eating fermented feed because they're getting more nutrients with less  feed.  22  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Fermenting feed also solves any issues with the more fine, powdery  components of whole grain chicken feed that can be tricky to manage.  The resulting texture of fermented chicken feed is comparable to oatmeal.  This new texture prevents feed spillage that you normally experience from  whole grains.  It only takes three days to ferment the first batch of chicken feed, and you'll  find the process to be fairly easy!   Below is a sample of what the fermentation process looks like from start to  finish.    How to Ferment Chicken Feed  Now that you know the benefits of fermenting chicken feed, here's how to  do it! We recommend starting with a smaller batch for your first time, then  increasing the amount as you see fit. Just make sure to maintain a 1:2 ratio  (one part feed, two parts water).  23  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    24  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when fermenting chicken feed:  ● If you use a plastic container, make sure it’s BPA-free  ● Do not seal the jar with a lid. Must be breathable  ● It is normal for bubbles to appear on the surface  ● Make sure there is always enough water during fermentation  ● Stir up the fermented mixture prior to feeding  ● Only serve the amount of feed chickens will eat at one time  ● You can reuse the water and add more feed—it will ferment faster  with leftover water  If you enjoy putting the time and effort into your chicken feed, the next  section is for you! Keep reading to learn about homemade chicken feed.      25  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide      Why Homemade Chicken Feed?  Making your own chicken feed may seem like a good idea, but after many  people try this, they find that it's cheaper and easier to buy chicken feed.   If you are looking to get 100% control over what your chickens eat, it's  important that the right amount of each nutrient is in the mix. Use the chart  below to make a complete layer feed.  26  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    Next, let's talk about free-ranging your chickens. It's often a tough decision  to make when raising your flock.  27  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide    Allowing Chickens to Free-Range  Letting your chickens outside the run to roam freely around the yard allows  them to get more exercise, gives them access to nutritious plants and  bugs, and is of course super fun for the chickens.    28  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Free-ranging your chickens sounds like a good idea, but unfortunately, it  comes with a cost.  Take a look at the pros and cons to help you determine what's best for you,  your flock, and your luscious yard.    It really boils down to healthier eggs and chickens vs. a nice looking  property with living chickens. Try it out for a few days to see how it goes. If  you can tolerate having a poopy yard/porch and luck out with no predator  problems, then free-ranging is perfect for you!  29  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  To conclude this complete chicken feed guide, we will cover chicken  feeders and how to properly store your feed.    Types of Feeders  Now that you understand everything about chicken feed, let's talk about  what to put it in.   There are many different types of feeders ranging from simple plastic tube  feeders all the way to fancy automatic feeders.   You'll want to make sure that the feeder you have minimizes the amount of  feed waste. Chickens love to scoop feed onto the ground to eat. This is  called "billing out". While it's entertaining for the chickens, it can be a pain  to clean up and a bummer to see feed go to waste. Feeders that will  minimize feed waste have a lip that is rolled or bent in.   30  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  A hanging feeder can also help prevent this behavior. Raising the feeder to  the height of your chicken's back is recommended.   Make sure most or all of these qualities below are present in your feeder.    You can pay as much or as little as you'd like on a feeder. It's not  necessarily a "get what you pay for" situation. Cheaper feeders work really  well for some people but can be problematic for others. Fancy feeders  make life a lot easier for some people but aren't worth the cost for others.  It's really about finding what works best for you and your flock.   If you have a smaller flock, we recommend starting out with a plastic tube  feeder and seeing how that goes. You might need to add another feeder to  make sure at least one-third of your chickens can eat at the same time.   When deciding whether to keep your feeder in the coop or in the run, that  is really up to you. Test it out for a few days to see how it goes, but make  sure you bring it inside at night in order to avoid attracting predators.  31  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide  Feed storage  A good feed storage container will have a snug lid to protect the feed from  going stale and keep pests out.   A plastic or galvanized container works great for feed storage. Keep the  container in a cool, dry place out of the sun.   If you use a galvanized container, keep your feed in the bag so it doesn't  react with the metal.   Now that you are an expert in chicken feed, go forth and raise some  awesome chickens!    Know of something we missed? Shoot us an email at  milefour@milefour.com.      Sources:  "Soy and phytoestrogens: possible side effects"​. ​Sergei V. Jargin  32  The Ultimate Chicken Feed Guide 


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