Selecting poultry feed
Chickens nutritional needs will change as they grow from baby to adult. There are different classes of nutrients necessary for body building such as protein, vitamins, calcium and minerals. A chicken's stage of growth determines the proportion of those nutrients.
Radio interview source: David Frame, Extension Poultry Specialist, Utah State University
Chickens have different nutritional needs at different stages of their lives. Their age and purpose will dictate what kind of feed you're buying at the farm store.
David Frame is an extension poultry specialist at Utah State University. He says there are different classes of nutrients necessary for body building such as protein, vitamins, calcium and minerals. A chicken's stage of growth determines the proportion of those nutrients. Baby chicks, for instance, require a grower feed with a lot of protein.
"Chick feeds that you find in the store will be somewhere between 21-and-23% protein," he says. "And of course the reason for that is, it's because that's when they're growing and they need those muscles. The energy level in commercial feeds is actually adjusted to the protein level so they get the right amount of energy."
Chickens raised for meat should be on a high-protein, high-energy regimen. Laying hens require a lot of calcium in their diet.
"In most grower feeds, the calcium level's about 1% of the feed," says Frame. "The phosphorous level is about a half of a percent. In lay feeds, the calcium is 4%, and the phosphorous level stays the same. And so you can see there's a high jump in calcium. The reason for that is that these laying hens need a pretty high calcium intake to accommodate egg production."
Frame says allocating feed can be confusing if you're raising chickens for the purpose of producing both meat and eggs. He advises a compromise by providing a good quality grower feed, and supplementing with additional free-choice limestone, calcite, or oyster shells to boost the calcium intake.
Chicken feed comes in three forms: pellets, crumbles – which are broken pellets and easier for the chicken to eat, and mash – which are smashed crumbles to make a meal.
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