Confused about what kind of feed to purchase for your birds? Follow these basic recommendations to ensure your birds are getting proper nutrition. If you plan on letting your birds on grass, keep in mind that this is not enough sustenance alone and is not a proper nutrient source. Feeding the birds before letting them onto the yard will help reduce the amount of grass they eat and can help prevent digestive tract grass blockages. Always check feed labels to make sure you are feeding the right type of food for the birds current life stage!
LAYERS (Egg Production)
For the first 6-8 weeks of life, chicks should be fed "chick feed" or "chick starter." The feed should be available at all times. From 8-20 weeks of age the starter food can continue to be fed or you can switch to a "pullet feed." Chicks should never be fed layer feed as it is too high in calcium and can lead to disease or death. After 20 weeks of age the layer feed ("pellet" or "crumble") should be introduced as the birds prepare to start laying eggs at around 18-24 weeks old. The feed should contain 2.5-3.5% calcium for egg production. If additional calcium sources are being considered, you can supplement with other calcium sources such as oyster-shell or limestone with the advice from your veterinarian.
GROWERS (Meat Production)
For the first 4 weeks chicks should be fed a "starter" feed. For the next 4 weeks the birds can fed a "grower feed", if kept longer than this the birds should be switched to a "finisher feed." There is also an option after 4 weeks of age to switch to a combination "grower/finisher feed."
Some more feeding tips:
If you plan to feed food scraps, never feed food that has been fermented
Probiotics are better to supplement with compared to yogurt
When offering fruits and vegetables, wash them first
Limit treats such as mealworms that can be high in calories and cause excessive weight gain
Store feed in a clean, dry, rodent proof area raised off the ground