chicken feeds supplements rations | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Chicken Feed (and don't forget grit!)

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Brahma Hen photo by Transalien: Wikimedia Commons
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What's the Best Food for Your Chickens?

Martha White
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Don’t know what to feed your chickens? Follow our tips and advice!

  • For simplicity, most owners of small flocks buy commercial rations from their local feed stores.
  • Young chicks will require “starter” feeds, and you may have a choice of medicated or non-medicated versions. (If you can keep a healthy flock with the non-medicated rations, do so.)
  • Once the hens reach laying age, at approximately five months, you’ll want to switch to layer rations with at least 16 percent protein.
  • Chicken feeds can be supplemented by homegrown or home-mixed rations of grains (oats, corn, barley, wheat, etc.), various brans, fish meal, alfalfa meal, and bonemeal.
  • You can add scraps from your table, such as fruit and vegetable peels or leftover breads.
  • Avoid offering raw potato peels (hard to digest), garlic or onions, (which may alter the way the eggs or meat taste), or anything spoiled.
  • Feeds bought from the store contain all the phosphorus and salt your hens will need, and they eliminate the need for grit.

If You Free-range Your Hens or Supplement Their Diets …

  • Be sure to offer a hopper of grit to help the hens grind up any grains or plant matter they eat.
  • Hens also need a hopper of ground oyster shells or other calcium source to prevent soft-shelled eggs.
  • Fresh water should be a constant supply.

Do you have any special foods your chickens love? Let us know!

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