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Chicken Feed and Nutrition

Chicken Feed and Nutrition

Chicken feed and nutrition has evolved to become a science. As raising chickens commercially for meat and eggs have become the norm, feeds have been developed to give optimum nutrition to growing birds and depending on the purpose which they have been developed for. Like people, chickens need carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and water to grow and develop optimal chicken health.
Aside from commercial feeds, these nutrients can also be derived from greens, table scraps and even the bugs and insects that they can find on the lawn.Different kinds of chickens for different purposes and various age levels have varying nutritional needs. This post will discuss what chickens need and what you should give your chicks, roosters, laying hens and meat birds.

Chicks

Chicks need a high-protein diet to aid in developing bones and muscles. Vitamin and mineral supplements may be given in their water. While you can mix your own feed, it is highly-recommended that you buy commercially-prepared feeds (mash) since these are already designed to give your chicks the appropriate levels of nutrients it needs to grow well. Since they are in their formative years, feeding is normally given dry and without limit. It should be replaced when it gets soiled or dirty to prevent harboring of bacteria that can make your chick sick. Water should be given at all times as well.

If you want to treat your chicks, you can give them a boiled egg white (shells and yolk not included) that is finely chopped. They really love this. You can also give a banana from time to time. Do not give large grains as they cannot digest these yet.

Roosters

Roosters are generally given assorted grains which can include any of the following: Yellow corn, sunflower, safflower, calf manna, rice, barley, oats, green peas, millet, among others. They can also be fed pellets which normally contain fishmeal for their protein requirements. You can also give them a lot of greens. Grit must also be part of their diet as this is very necessary to digest the hard grains they eat. Table scraps and fruits in season also make good food for your roosters.

Make sure that water is available at all times. In extreme weather, you can give them vitamin and mineral supplements. Occasionally, you can give them cooked liver chopped in pieces to help aid in muscle building. Insects make nutritious treats for them as well, so if you can give them a chance to roam freely around your yard, they will also help you get rid of your pests while giving their body the nutrition needed.

Laying Hens

Egg laying hens are given diets that optimize egg production while maintaining chicken health at the same time. There are commercially available layer mixes that are low in fat, high in protein and fortified with calcium and other vitamins and minerals like linoeic acid, lysine and phosphorus for this purpose. Water should also be given in abundance. Other treats like fruits, veggies and table scraps that are given to roosters may also be given to them.

Meat Chickens

Meat chickens are generally given broiler starter and finisher feeds that are high in both protein and energy. Commercial mixes for meat birds are designed to meet the nutritional requirements of the birds although they have to be controlled to prevent leg weakness and other metabolic diseases. Water should also be amply provided and other treats given to laying hens may also be given to them.

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