If you are new in the chicken, turkey or waterfowl game, you probably have some questions about what, when and how much to feed your birds. These questions are often answered differently based on breed, age, environment and purpose of your birds, but I will attempt to get all the basics answered.
Baby Chicks and Turkeys will require a starter feed; this can be medicated or not, amprolium is often included in chick starter feed to prevent coccidiosis (especially dangerous to chicks). Waterfowl no not require medicated starter feed, however if you have no other option, studies show that USDA approved chick medications do not negatively effect waterfowl.
Starter Feed Consumption Rates (General Figures Provided by Nutrena):
- Layers: First 10 Weeks = 9-10 lbs of feed per bird
- Broilers: First 6 Weeks = 8-9 lbs of feed per bird
- Turkeys: First 12 Weeks = 72 lbs of feed per bird
- Geese: First 8 Weeks = 53 lbs of feed per bird
- Ducks: First 8 Weeks = 22 lbs of feed per bird
- Game Birds: First 8 Weeks = 9 lbs of feed per bird
Depending on your breed, in about 16-24 months your females will hopefully start laying eggs. This means their diet will need some changing, basically less protein and more calcium compared with the starter feeds. Many layer feeds will come with extra calcium, but you can always keep a dish of crushed oyster shells or calcium enhanced grit in the coop; your girls will partake as needed. This prevents malformed and brittle eggs.
Egg Laying Bird Feed Consumption (General Figures Provided by Nutrena):
- Chickens: 1.5 lbs per bird /week
- Turkeys: 4-5 lbs per bird /week
- Geese: 3 lbs per bird /week
- Ducks: 1.5-2 lbs per bird /week
- Game Birds: 1-1.5 lbs per bird /week
Tips For Feeding Chickens
I only have two chickens, beautiful girls that are about 4 years old. With such a small number they require very little maintenance. That being said, the easiest way to know how much feed they need is to check the feeder, I try to never leave their feeder empty. Its an 11 lb hanging feeder so i only refill it every couple weeks. We also have a family of mice that are probably subsisting on chicken egg layer feed which may account for some feed loss.
My roommates and I also tend to give our ladies a decent amount of kitchen scraps, and we let them out to eat grass, bugs, weeds and whatever they want in the garden / yard. This supplements their feed quite a bit, I know Blackie and Crusty Butt (she had some issues as a poult) go crazy over any greens or veggies and they get some almost every other day.
Figuring out your feed needs is pretty simple. I would suggest buying the first few months worth, about 10 lbs per chick, and seeing how it goes from there. The key is never to get caught with an empty feeder and a closed feed store, which is what happened to me yesterday. No worries though, just gave the girls a hefty helping leftover rice and veggies to tide them over!