Different Types of Poultry Feed For Chickens

by Meghan H

Published April 13, 2020

When it comes to poultry, there are many different types of feed and suggestions on what you should be feeding your chicks. To make an informed decision, we have compiled a list of the different types of feed and their benefits for your flock.

Nutrition Is Important

Before buying any feed, one thing to keep in mind is to ensure the birds’ nutritional needs are met. Their feed requirements change with their age; chicks 0-8 weeks should get a chick starter feed containing 18-20% protein, 8-16 weeks old should have grower feed that contains 16-18% protein, and chickens 16 weeks and up should have a layer feed that has 16% protein. As long as these basic needs are met, anything extra is just an added bonus for your flock.

Meyer Hatchery carries a full line of non-GMO and organic feeds for those customers who prefer those feed options.

Non-GMO Feed

What is a GMO? A Genetically Modified Organism, GMO, is a plant or animal created through genetic engineering. Being Non-GMO means that the product is made without any ingredients that were derived from genetically engineered organisms.

This can be a controversial topic for some and is rapidly becoming a popular subject. According to the National Chicken Council, the benefits of using GMO products are using less fertilizer and fewer pesticides while increasing crop yields, which leads to a more sustainable product (NCC, 2013).  This article also mentions that “There is no nutritional difference between chicken products in which chickens have been fed genetically modified crops versus chickens that have not.  Once feed is digested by the animal, there is no way to distinguish any difference.”

However, many people believe that the best wholesome ingredients come from a natural source and that offering feeds that are free of any modifications will promote healthier, stronger poultry and will give you the best results when raising meat chickens or layers.

Certified Organic Feed

Organic chicken feed is a feed that has been certified to be free of preservatives or additives such as antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, or other foreign substances. This certification is a difficult process as the seeds have to be organic from the start and that means the land has to be certified as organic as well.

These feeds generally contain organic wheat, barley, peas, flaxseed meal, corn, soybeans, molasses, fish meal, and sesame oil, among other ingredients to create a balanced diet for your flock. The benefit of organic feed is the certification of purity of the products that go into the feed. One of the cons of this type of feed is the cost. It is more expensive for several reasons. There are higher labor costs due to not using pesticides, and separate transportation is required for shipping to maintain organic standing. Government certification is required, and there is a limited supply available.

Regular/Traditional Feed

If you are looking for the best options for the best price; a regular house feed will surely do the trick! Most standard feeds contain all of the diet requirements of chickens. When picking the right standard feeds, a few key things to look for are 16-20% protein, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin D3.

No Soy

Soy is a common ingredient used in chicken feed, mainly for its high protein and amino acids. However, many people are wanting to avoid soy products in their diets due to allergies and sensitivities. Soy-free chicken feeds will contain other ingredients like peas and more grains to replace the protein and carbs.

Medicated vs. Non-Medicated

Medicated feed is a chick starter feed that has an added coccidiostat (Amprolium) additive which prevents, but does not treat, Coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that is passed through fecal droppings and affects the chickens’ intestinal tract by reducing nutrient absorption. Generally, there will be a holding time before you can consume the products after using the medicated feeds, it is always good to follow the directions on the bag. Using medicated feed is a preference, but it is not always necessary. Keep the chicks’ area clean with good quality feed and clean water will help build a great immune system in your chickens.

Treats & Supplements

What can you add to layer chicken’s diet? Sometimes we like to give our hens a special treat to show our appreciation for all of their hard work! Adding treats into their feed can offer nutrients and spoil them a bit perhaps. Oyster shell, or even their own eggshells can make a great addition to their feed. You may also give them flaxseed to add a bit of Omega-3, brewers yeast, oatmeal, mealworms, ground ginger, pumpkin seeds, and even garlic! 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog on different types of chicken feed!  Let us know below which feed type you use and why! Happy chickening!!

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