Feeds and Feeding
It’s best to given the fresh feed each day and only put out about the amount of feed that they will eat.
Why wouldn’t you want to fill their feeders with several days of feed?
For several reasons: First, feed will stay fresher in a feed storage bin than in the feeders where it will get more exposure to air and moisture. Fresh feed is more palatable to the chickens and more nutritious for them. Second, putting out excess feed tends to attract rodents, particularly at night.
Chickens have different nutritional requirements at different times in their lives. When they are young, it’s especially important that they get the right kind of feed, with the right balance of protein and other nutrients. It’s also important that they get plenty of feed — that is, that their feed is not restricted.
For young chicks, you’ll need a chick starter. Some manufacturers also make a starter/grower, which is designed to be used both for young chicks and as a grower feed as they get older. With many granulated starter feeds, the particle size is a bit too large for day-old chicks, so for the first week or so, you can grind up the feed a little finer by crushing it between a brick and a patio stone. Young chicks should also be given access to chick grit, which is available from feed stores. If you’re not able to find chick grit locally, you can also use adult-sized grit and crush it into finer particles using a hammer. For more information, see our initial chick care instructions.
Once the chicks reach about 5-7 weeks of age, they are ready to transition onto a grower feed (or you can keep them on starter/grower, if that is what you’ve been using). They should be kept on grower up until time of harvest, for cockerels or point of lay for pullets. Feed manufacturers will usually have recommendations of ages at which to switch feeds which may differ slightly from these — when in doubt, follow the feed manufacturer’s age recommendations.
Once your pullets reach point of lay and you start seeing the first few eggs, you can transition them onto a layer feed. It’s a good idea to also put oyster shells (a calcium source that will help them build eggshells) in a free choice feeder.