If you're starting your flock with chicks, you'll need to get a chick starter feed. There are both organic and non-organic, medicated and not. Chick starter contains the nutrients and high protein that quickly growing chicks need.
After about 12 weeks, your chicks are considered pullets. They're not chicks anymore, and they're not of egg laying age. At this time, begin feeding your chickens a grower feed. This has less protein than the chick starter, and less calcium than the layer feed.
When a hen gets 5-6 months of age, she's ready to start laying eggs. It's time to start feeding chickens layer feed at this time. It has more calcium, to help them lay strong shelled eggs and to give them the added nutrients they need to lay several eggs a week (it's hard work!)
If you're raising chickens for meat, they need their own kind of food as well. It's formulated to feed these rapidly growing chickens the food they need to help them grow into nice, meaty birds.
In addition to feeding chickens some form of feed, it's also important to give them additional calcium (such as oyster shell or baked and crushed egg shells) and grit. The calcium, again, helps with egg production while the grit acts as 'teeth' inside their stomachs, helping to grind up all the food they've eaten.
There are all sorts of treats you can feed chickens. Mine love a combination of cracked corn and bird seed with a bit of flax mixed in. They also love crickets and meal worms. There's a wide variety of 'extras' you can feed your flock, just go easy on it. Chickens are a lot like children in this area. They'd rather eat candy than the stuff that's good for them, so use treats in moderation.
Chickens also love to eat all sorts of leftovers. And almost anything is okay. Here's a list of what chickens shouldn't eat, though, if you have questions.
If given the opportunity to forage in a free range environment, chickens will also feed themselves. They love bugs, worms, slugs, weeds, and even your vegetable and flower gardens.
Are you interested in what ingredients go into homemade chicken food?
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