Do All Chickens Eat The Same Diet?

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“We have a backyard flock 3-4 months old. Based on breed info available we can expect good egg laying potential from all of them and a variety of egg color… IF we feed them correctly. That is the part I don’t really know.

Do all chickens eat the same diet? We are using a Chick/Starter feed that is nutritionally complete, not sure at all what all that means now. 2 sex-links, 2 Americana, 2 WHITE ones ;-) Is there something else I should be feeding them?” ~ Hal

Hi Hal,

Welcome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping.

It’s a lot of fun.

To simply answer your question, all chickens that are raised for laying do eat the same thing.

Broilers, which are raised for meat require a diet that puts on weight quickly because you typically dress them by 12 weeks. The category of broilers include specific breeds, none of which you own.

Your breeds, sex-links, Americana and probably Leghorns are all raised for eggs.

Sex-links, of which there are a variety, are great because the color of their feathers determine whether they are male or female – no unexpected roosters in this group.

Americanas typically lay blue-green eggs. They are beautiful and in high demand at our farmer’s market.

And Leghorns are the “Egg Laying Machines” of the chicken world. Their eggs are white and you should have a constant supply.

I think you have a great little flock.

I’ll explain the different stages of commercial feed so you understand what to feed and when to feed it.

Commercial feeds are referred to as nutritionally complete because they contain all the vitamins, minerals, energy, nutrients and protein necessary.

There are three stages of development within the first year of life for the laying hen, each requires a different balance of nutrients.

A “starter” diet should be fed for the first 6-8 weeks. A starter diet has the highest level of protein the chickens require throughout their whole life.

From 6-8 weeks, the required protein lessens while the need for energy increases. This is the time to switch to a “developer” diet. Continue with this diet until 20 weeks of age.

Twenty weeks is the time to switch to a “layer” diet. At this point, calcium requirements are much higher and a layer diet will meet that nutritional requirement.

As I said, each stage requires a different balance of nutrients and commercial feed does all the work for you.

It is also a great help to those of us who live in arid climates where green plants/grasses only grow with irrigation. My chickens would die if left only to forage!

If you are feeding commercial feed, the only additional thing you would need is a calcium supplement offered free choice once they start to lay.

Oyster shell is my preference but there are others available. Your flock will know if they need extra calcium so you just leave a dish for them to munch on when they need it.

Best of luck to you Hal, enjoy your chickens.

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