Topics Forums Raising Chickens What should I feed my baby chicks?

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      What should I feed my baby chicks?

      What food should I feed my baby chicks?

      Baby chicks are a great way to start earning eggs, meat for your self, or for your reptile or raptor.  But each chick requires a different diet, to help them develop into the chicken you’re expecting.

      Baby chicks in general have nutritional requirements.  Advanced and new farmers will buy their feed from a commercially manufactured mill.  This ensures the chick feed has the proper ratio of protein, fat, vitamins, and other nutrients.  It is not recommended to create your own mix.  Baby chicks that do not receive the correct ratio of nutrients  can suffer from leg issues, abnormal feathering, slow growth, or gain too much fat.

      Egg Laying Chicks

      It’s also important to recognize your purpose and intentions for these baby chicks.   Egg laying chicks will require more protein when they are younger.  But after 6 weeks, they should be switched to a grower feed, which has a reduced amount of protein, higher calcium, and a different mix of nutrients.  This will help develop your chick into a great hen that can yield about 1 egg per day.

      Broiler Chicks

      Broiler chicks have a different purpose – for being eaten.  To maximize the amount of meat, these broiler chicks get fed more feed in general.  And their feed contains a higher amount of protein.  Between the higher amount of protein, and more food, these baby chicks will develop into meaty broilers that are great for consumption.

      Additional foods

      After chicks develop to 3 weeks, they will start to eat more than just the food you offer.  They are notorious opportunists, and will eat a large variety of objects:

      • Bugs – Crickets are the obvious bug we promote.  But many chicken farmers look for black soldier fly larvae for their high calcium content.  And mealworms are another popular option.
      • Grains – Surprisingly, oatmeal is one of their favorites.  This is a great way to pack on calories.
      • Fruits & Vegetables – Pumpkin (yuck), squash, apples, strawberries, and additional fruits and vegetables.
      • Seeds – Flax seeds and chia seeds are a great treat for your chicks to add some omega-3 fatty acids to their diet.

      Avoid These Foods

      Although opportunists, it should be noted that chicks and chickens cannot eat eat tomato plants because they contain the toxic chemical solanine. But don’t hesitate with the actual tomato.  Chicks can safely consume tomatoes and most will gladly eat them.

      Chicks should also not consume raw potatoes, as they contain toxic glycoalkaloids. Raw beans are also toxic, as they contain the compound hemagglutinin.  and do avoid onions, garlic, chocolate, eggplant, avocado rinds and seeds, peanuts, pickles, rhubarb, moldy bread, and any other moldy food. Other off-limit foods include citrus rinds, citrus in general, coffee, raw eggs, processed food, and dry rice.

      As long as you can monitor their diets with what they need, what they like, and what they shouldn’t be offered, then you can anticipate a healthy brood for their intended purpose.

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