Chicken Feed: What Do Chickens Eat? You’ll Hardly Believe it

Chicken Feeds

One of the first things the person who you bought your chickens from probably said was 'chicken feed.' You hastily looked it up on Google with complete ignorance. What is chicken feed? What did it consist of? Was it the only thing that you can feed your chickens? Let's shine a light on all of these queries so that you can give your precious brood the best time since they first came to live with you.

So What’s Out There in Terms of Chicken Feed for Your Laying Hens?

When it comes to chicken feed for your chicken feeder, there's a serious science behind it, which is why you might be feeling so confused. The long and short of it is that your chook is different now to when they were a fluffy ball in the corner of the hen pen. This means that they require different things to each, depending on their stage. It would be nice if it were the same across the board, but just like human kids, chickens need a variety over their lifetime. Who knew it could be so complicated?

For little nibblets that you can hardly see beneath those unruly feathers, they'll need starter chicken feed for their chicken feeder that's going to be high protein. You'll also have to remember that just like little humans, chicks haven't quite learned the art of masticating yet, so will need a bit of help with the chicken feed texture. It'll either need to be in powder form or mashed up enough to easily get down the gullet without complaint. 

Grower chicken feed is for when your chooks are getting to be feisty little teenagers, and require something with a little more grit to it – literally. This 'mash' is chicken feed that is still high in protein but doesn't have as much protein as it did before. We're trying to wean them off the good stuff so that they don't expect it for the rest of their laying-egg lives.

Lastly, when those hens have finally graduated to being adult chickens, they'll be looking around for chicken feed that’s a little more robust. This is where layer crumbs or pellets are introduced into their diet, which has just the right balance of calcium and protein to keep them happy. You don't want an angry hen on your hands.

Girls feeding chickens

What Else Can You Feed Your Chickens Apart from Chicken Feed?

We’ve covered the boring bits – the mandatory chicken feed that’s required so that they don’t die an early death. However, when you’ve got relatively domesticated chooks that might even know where the kitchen is after a while, there are ways that you can expand their diet to a certain extent.

Garlic is a big one, and there's a good chance you've got a bit of it lying around, too. So are eggshells – ironically. What goes around comes around, right? Just make sure that they're crushed and integrated into their feed, so they don't start to put two and two together. You want to keep them alive, not scar them. Lastly, load them up on apple cider vinegar if you want to keep the worms at bay, and pump them full of vitamins at the same time. Throw a spoonful into three liters of water, and you've got yourself a happy, healthy chook that's ready to lay some eggs.

What Shouldn’t You Feed Your Chooks?

Alright, we've had fun talking about all the ways that you can help your chooks grow big and strong – but now for the bad bit. Let's take a brief look at what you shouldn't be throwing at your chickens so that they don't create a coupe and come after you.

Avocado and raw beans are a no-no for chickens – especially the rind of an avocado. It's almost painful saying the next bit because it seems so obvious, but you can't feed your chooks anything moldy. Shock horror, right? Just like us, they’re not too keen on the stuff that’s gone off.

Other items are rice, food that's too salty, onion, chocolate, green potatoes, and green tomatoes. To be honest, it's kind of like a list that a lot of people would turn their noses up at anyway, so at least there's a bit of common sense in there as well. Unfortunately, all of these foods are poisonous to hens so that they will get sick, and then you'll need to take a very reluctant trip to the vet. Nobody wants that.

chicken treats

How Can You Treat Your Chickens?

Whether you choose to celebrate your chooks’ birthdays or not, we’ve all got to throw down our hair and appreciate life for what it is ever now and then, right? Perhaps, their egg production has been higher than normal, lately, and you’ve been tasting eggs that have put you on cloud nine. You might even be celebrating the chicken feed level they’re now on. Whatever the reason, sometimes you don’t need one to treat your chooks and remind them how much you love them.

So, what do chooks like to celebrate with, then, apart from chicken feed? They love all kinds of fruits and berries, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. They also like carrots and dandelions, so if you have a vegetable garden or grass that's full of those white flowers that your husband loves to mow over every month, you're in luck.

They also like lettuce, pumpkin seeds, mealworms (I know), oats, and sprouted lentils. If it weren't for the mealworms, you'd think that this would be a pretty good diet for a vegetarian to follow. I guess your chooks are 99.9999% vegetarian, which surely counts for something.

So, we've covered chicken feed from toddlers to teenagers, and even when they've graduated to fully-grown specimens. We've talked about what they would go for if they got a chance to raid your kitchen, and we've talked about what they wouldn't. We've also covered what they hope for occasionally, on the off chance that they've had good egg production that week. However, you choose to do it, make sure that you've got happy, healthy hens that are fed a golden standard diet that most people would be enviable of – except for those mealworms, of course.

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