Did you just bring your first-ever party of cute baby chicks home?
Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your little fluff ball mature into an elegant rooster or hen that is profitable.
Raising baby chicks, however, is not just about cuddles and photo ops. You need to make sure that you have the right care for your young birds so that they can develop into mature adults.
Not sure where to begin?
Consider our ultimate baby chick feeding guide, where we will tell you all about how, what, where, where, and why you need to have a special diet for your chicks.
Chickens’ Nutrition Requirements
At each point of their lives, chickens need to have certain nutritional requirements met.
As they pass through their many life phases, they have different nutritional requirements.
All in all, however, in their diets, chickens require the following foods:
Protein helps to develop powerful muscles and to promote healthy development. As well as developing young chicks, protein is most essential for fast-growing broiler birds.
The core of your chicken diet is grain. Commercial feeds usually contain grains like wheat, oats, or maize. All of the phosphorus, B-vitamins, and whole grains (as well as more protein) that your chicks need to remain healthy are given by these grains.
Minerals and Vitamins
Some vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, and B, are essential for chicken. They need salt as well. In certain situations, all the vitamins your chickens need will be supplied by a chick starter or some form of commercial feed. Leafy greens and other scraps can also be fed to adult birds to provide additional nutrients, too.
Fat in Fat
To generate energy and essential fatty acids that are required for certain bodily processes, chickens need fat.
Grit a Grit
Adult birds, as young chicks do, need access to grit. Birds that are licenced to free-range will find their own grit and eat it.
Confined birds need grit at least once a month in a brooder or coop, but you will need to pick grit that is size-appropriate.
Make sure you’re not offering something bigger than sand to your hicks!
In the diet of a young chick, you will not need calcium, but when your chickens mature into laying hens, they will need calcium.
This is normally given by a layer feed, but oyster shell may also be supplemented.
Chicken needs a lot of fresh, clean water.
Chickens drink three times as much water by weight as the food they consume.
For every four adult chickens, you will usually need around one quart. As your chickens age and when it is hot outside, the water intake will increase.
Just before they become ready to start laying, you can also find your birds drinking more water.
You may need to find a feed that is specifically formulated at the stage of life at which your chickens are in order to satisfy these needs.
Here are the three main forms of feed in your local farm supply store that you can find.
This is the kind of feeding that baby chicks require.
A healthy chick starter with a protein level ranging between 10 and 20 percent must be fed to newly hatched chicks (until at least eight weeks of age)- 18 is optimal.
All the nutrition your young chicks will need is provided by these rations. In a pinch, you might be able to get away with using a higher-protein starter for broilers and roasters (22 to 24 percent protein).
If you raise chickens solely for the development of eggs, you are warned against this.
Feed from growers
Grower feed at about ten weeks of age will replace the chick starter feed (eight is often acceptable as well, although you will want to work on transitioning your birds off the starter and into the grower feed between weeks eight and ten).
Fifteen to sixteen percent protein is usually despised by Gower foods.
If you also raise growing game birds with your chickens, such as guinea fowl or ducks, you might be able to feed the same kind of growing feed to your chickens -just keep an eye on the content of protein.
Layer feeds are fed for your consumption to chickens that lay eggs.
These feeds, like growers’ feeds, can contain sixteen percent protein, but are unusual in that they contain extra calcium.
The calcium helps facilitate the growth of the shell and should be fed either at 18 weeks or at the laying of the first egg, whichever comes first. As this may harm their kidneys, it is vital that you do not feed layer feed to developing chicks and pullets or roosters.
Factors impacting the nutritional needs of your chick
Not all chickens are going to have similar nutritional requirements. The nutrients needed by your particular chicken can vary depending on its:
- Genetics-Some bird breeds or strains have distinct body sizes, growth rates, and levels of productivity and will therefore need feed with distinct efficiency levels.
- Older chickens are going to be bigger and, thus, require more food. However, because of their age, chickens who are no longer laying may not need quite as much.
- Sex-Gender does not play a significant role in the intake of food prior to sexual maturity-as chicks, the same amount of food will typically be fed to both sexes.
- Temperature: Chickens need more calories than they need to be cooler.
- Housing-They would need less calories when you keep your chickens raised in containment than if they were left out to free-range (which would cause them to burn calories). The opposite of this, though, is that you are unlikely to feed free-range birds as much as they can compensate for most of those calories by finding their own food in the yard.
- In the Wild, What Do Baby Chicks Eat?
Why should we discuss a baby chick’s diet in the wild?
First of all, it’s important that you try to replicate as much as possible the diet of a chicken in its natural element.
Secondly, if you raise a chick that has hatched under a mother hen, you’ll want to make sure that the transition from hatching to maturity is as smooth as possible.
You would need, of course, a broody hen in order to hatch a chick from a broody hen! Most of this instinct has been bred out of chickens, but there are still those who prefer to broodiness.
If you’re lucky enough for this to happen in your coop, here’s how your chicks should be fed.
In nature, when they find out what they are meant to eat, chicks will follow their mothers.
As they discover this fascinating new environment, they could be pecking at bugs, tiny worms, or even greens.
As they get older, some baby chicks will eat tiny mice and frogs, too. After all, chickens are omnivores, and young infant chickens are no exception!
You will encourage your birds to obey their mother and work it out on their own if you have a broody hen that has hatched her own chicks.
You may want to put some chick starters out, too. Just ensure that this is in a separate location from the feed of your adult chicken, as too much chick starter can cause adult diarrhoea.
If not, it’s all right if she gets into it from time to time (as long as it is unmedicated).
What to Feed a Chick Baby
Chicks feed baby chicks
If you’re purchasing chicks from a hatchery or hatching your own in a home incubator, you’re going to need to have a specialised diet that makes up for anything you usually get from nature.
Chicks that are hatched are usually shipped at a one-day-old hatchery.
During this time, they are safe to be shipped as they can live on their egg sacs alone for 48 hours.
If you’re at home hatching your own eggs, remember that it will take about 21 days for the eggs to hatch.
During the hatching window, you can carefully watch your incubator (which could be anywhere from 20 days to 24 days, depending on the accuracy of your timing). Make sure you don’t leave your chicks there for too long, because without food and water, they can’t survive forever.
In the event of your chicks being delayed in shipment, some chick hatchers add a supplement to the bottom of the shipping container.
Your chicks will generally not touch them unless they become curious.
In your own incubator, if you are hatching chicks, make sure you keep them there until they are dry and fluffy and don’t worry about them starving-they’re going to be okay for two full days.
You should have a chick starter feed for your birds that contains at least 18 percent protein.
To provide your chicks with the energy they need for the rapid amounts of early growth they will undergo, this high protein level is important.
There will also be amino acids, probiotics, prebiotics, yeast, vitamins, and minerals contained in a healthy chick starter.
The healthy growth of bones and organs would be assisted by this combination.
It is certainly recommended to use a chick starter, but you can also select a starter-grower feed that will help ease the transition after chicks no longer need a chick starter.
Do you have to buy a commercial starter for chicks?
Not of course!
There are plenty of DIY alternatives to conventional chick starters, as long as you supply your chicks with the nutrients they need.
You might feed, for instance,:
- Hard-boiled oatmeal eggs mashed
- Oats Milled
- Tiny quantities of lettuce or bread
- The Worms
- Cornmeal blended with oatmeal that is uncooked
- Eggs with bread crumbs that are stale
- Scaled meal of biscuits with parsley
- Just make sure that you fulfil the nutritional needs that we have described above!
Know, a lot of planning will not be required for dry food such as commercial chick starter and it will not go sour in the crop of your chicken.
It will stimulate feather growth and will also fill up your chicks faster.