Chicken Nutrition: Optimize Their Health

August 8, 2016

One of the biggest questions that I get when I am traveling around the country meeting fellow chicken keepers like you is, how do I keep my flock healthy and the eggs a-plenty? It’s actually not complicated and it starts by providing your flock with a healthy, well-balanced diet. We are at our best when we eat healthy and take care of ourselves. Chickens are no different. This is why chicken nutrition matters.

 chicken nutrition Tilly's Nest

Over the course of their lifetime, egg-laying hens will be on three types of chicken feed.  From day 1 until approximately 8 weeks, they will eat a chick feed. This feed is approximately 20% protein and is formulated in small little bits. It is perfect for your rapidly growing babies. Chick grit should also be available as free choice to aid with proper digestion and crop functioning. After 8 weeks, chicks should be transitioned over to a grower feed. While still growing, their protein needs are a bit less, down to 15-16%. During this time they will begin to feather out and form their final plumage. Chicks will remain on the grower feed until around 20 weeks of age, or until they lay their first egg. From then, they are transitioned over to a layer feed. Layer feed contains approximately 16-18% protein and contains calcium to help create strong eggshells. Hens should also be offered free choice oyster shells. This is not a replacement for poultry grit, but an added source of calcium just in case they need an additional boost. Another wonderful added bonus to some chicken feeds is the addition of prebiotics and probiotics. These not only booster digestive health but also support the flock’s immune system as well as egg production too.

You might also be wondering about feeding pellets verses crumbles. Nutritionally, there is no difference between the two. Some people believe that their flock has a preference one way or another. Others believe that feeding pellets can minimize food waste.

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Chicken treats, including scratch and cracked corn, should only make up approximately 10% of their diet. Anything over that amount can greatly affect the production of eggs. A good thing to know is that chickens will never overeat. Therefore, feel free during their waking hours to leave the feeder out for them. Removing the feeder during the evening hours can cut down on predators as well as night time scavengers.

Chickens will eat approximately a quarter pound of feed per day and drink three times that amount of water. Chickens should always have clean drinking water available. You will also notice that your flock eats more food during the colder winter months than during the summer. This is for a number of reasons, including the availability of food during free-ranging, fall molting as well as their increased metabolic needs during the winter.

Lastly, it is important to know that what your chickens eat directly affects the quality and taste of the eggs that they produce. Allowing your chickens access to fresh green grass is a terrific way to get Omega 3 fatty acids into their eggs.

This post has been sponsored by Nutrena. For more information about their products and chicken nutrition click here. Enter below to win a bag of Nutrena Poultry Feed to try with your flock below. Retail value per coupon is $45.00.

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7 thoughts on “Chicken Nutrition: Optimize Their Health”

  1. Hi, I need some advice, your page really helped me when my chicken had sour crop so hoping someone will know whats wrong with my 8 week old Wellsummer. It was hatched from egg in an incubator with 7 others and has had no contact yet with my small backyard flock and in a totally different part of land in a shed so couldn’t have contracted anything from contact. It was fine this morning totally normal but a few hours later its like its gone blind! eyes closed and crying and can’t find its food. It stops crying when I cradle it so I think its disturbed rather than in pain as the comfort really helps settle it. It can open its eyes but is mostly closing them even when active. I have looked at all illnesses and I can’t seem to find anything that presents like this. She sounds a bit snuffly so I was thinking it could be a sinus infection. I have separated it and brought it inside the house. I still don’t know if its a chicken or cock. Any help please. x

    • Also just to add its been a bit odd since birth, always crying if others not really near it and as its got bigger the others seem to cover it under their feathers like its their baby??

      • So sorry for the delay in answering. I was away on vacation for a couple of weeks. Poor baby! I guess I would think about taking the little one to the vet. I would also not rule out some sort of vitamin/electrolyte deficiently too. Have you thought about trying to add some to its drinking water? Also, feel free to share some pics and more on the Facebook page. My peeps can be super helpful too!

  2. Our flock is a diverse mix of breeds; americanas, banty’s, red rangers, cornish hens and we currently have 25 and are about to hatch 7 more this weekend! I have fallen in LOVE with chickens and want so many more!


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.