Is Changing Feed Harmful to Chickens?
If you’re just starting to raise chickens, a common question that gets asked is, “What is the best feed to give them?” Often, people will search for ways to save money on chicken feed. If someone sat down and calculated out the cost of raising backyard chickens, they may find it costs more than just heading to the store to buy eggs. However, you and I both know that nothing beats farm fresh eggs! For me, the first question I had to answer was, “Am I in this for more than just eggs?” The answer was a resounding yes! Our chickens are our pets! But also, as a mom, knowing that my family is feeding our body natural products matters to me. We don’t do everything perfectly but eating good quality food is important. Feeding our flock a well-balanced diet is essential in my mind! It is important for the health of our chickens as well as the quality of their eggs...which in turn matters to the health of our family. Right now, you’re thinking that I’m overthinking this. Haha! But am I?
As a disclaimer, I’m not an animal nutritionist. I’m not advising you one way or another. I'm just stating my feelings on this topic. If your feelings differ from mine and you have a great system, please carry on with your methods!
When we get our baby chicks, we start them on a non-medicated crumble. We add First Peep™ from the Baby Chick Care Kit from Strong Animals Chicken Essentials. I chose non-medicated feed for my flock because the Strong Animal products give the chickens all the benefits of medicated, but with a natural approach using probiotics, prebiotics and essential oils.
When they are close to egg laying age, we switch them to layer crumble. There are pellets as well, but we feed the crumble. My husband accidentally bought the pellets once. The girls ate it, but they stuck their beaks up a little bit! There is no difference in the formulation between crumble and pellets. It’s just the different shape that threw them! Talk about picky eaters! We keep this feed along with crushed oysters and grit available to the girls at all times.
Then, as a treat, we will give them snacks like Happy Tract™ or Golden Graze™. Scratch treats from the store or mealworms are also great snacks! But these should be treated as snacks or treats...not their main source of energy. Chickens use an incredible amount of energy in regulating their bodies as well as creating and producing eggs. So, eating a balanced diet is incredibly important! We do give the girls scraps as well. If you want to read more on the scraps we avoid, you can find that HERE in another blog.
I often get asked if I make our own feed. The answer is no. I don’t know what the proper formulations are to include everything my chickens need to thrive. I also know that not all feed is created equal. We have done our research and buy chicken food that isn’t necessarily top shelf, but it’s not at the bottom either. I feel confident that we’re giving the girls what they need. They are happy and healthy! If you’re really excited about making your own food, I encourage you to reach out to a poultry nutritionist and see what they recommend. Or you could simply create your own scratch grains with what you know is safe to feed. It seems like a good compromise, huh?
Whatever you choose to do, remember we are what we eat. If your chickens aren’t getting the right nutrients, it can impact their gut health (which affects everything), their feather health and their egg production. Our girls are super healthy, full of beautiful feathers, and are great layers. I attribute this to their well-balanced diet as well as Chicken Essentials products. Raising backyard chickens is definitely a learning journey. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from people who have been doing it much longer than you! I’ve been doing this on and off for 14 years and I’m still learning!
Until next time,
--The Wing Lady