What should i feed my baby chicks

What Do Baby Chicks Eat? Complete Guide to Feeding Baby Chickens

Raising chicks is a wonderful experience. Little chicks are cute balls of fluff and they are adorable to watch. And fortunately, feeding baby chicks is easy if you follow our simple guide.

Whether you incubated eggs, purchased day-old chicks or set eggs under a mother hen, our 10 essential tips will ensure your chicks have all of the nutrients that they need to grow and thrive.

1. Baby chicks don’t need to eat straight away

Chicks don’t need feed and water until about 24 hours after hatching.

Baby chickens are precocial – this means that they are born with feathers and are able to walk within a few hours of hatching. In the egg, chicks absorb the egg yolk which provides them with nutrients for 24-72 hours. This is the reason why day-old chicks can be shipped from hatcheries.

Because newly-hatched chicks have recently absorbed the egg yolk, they do not need to eat or drink for at least 24 hours.

If you are   incubating eggs, the chicks should stay in the incubator until they are completely dry. Once the chicks are removed to the brooder, you should provide feed and water. If you set eggs under a hen, she will show her chicks the food when it is time for them to eat.

2. Chicks are not born knowing how to eat or drink

Although chicks are able to walk soon after hatching, they are not born knowing how to eat or drink. In the wild, their mother would show them. If you are raising the chicks yourself, you need to show them how to eat and drink.

Until they learn what food is, the answer to ‘What do baby chicks eat?’ is everything. That includes   brooder bedding, which is why a plain floor surface such as newspaper should be used for the first few days. Never put any non-food item in the brooder that your new chicks could eat.

New chicks will peck at anything that looks like food, from newsprint to your fingers.

How to teach your baby chicks to eat: 

Scatter feed over the brooder floor and tap the feed with your fingernail to call the chicks over and encourage them to peck. This is similar to what a mother hen will do to show her chicks where food is.

Once your chicks are eating consistently, move the feed to a dedicated feeder in order to limit contamination with faeces and prevent disease. Contaminated feed should always be removed.

How to teach your chicks to drink

Gently dip the tip of their beak into the waterer. Do this for each chick individually. Once one chick gets the idea, others will follow. However, you may need to repeat the process several times before your chicks learn to drink alone.

Watch your chicks carefully for the first few days. Even once most of the chicks have gotten the hang of eating and drinking, there may be one or two that require further instruction.

3. Choosing the best chick feed

Feed for baby chicks is called a chick starter. Usually chick starters come as a crumble, which is a smaller size than adult chicken feed. Crumbles are better for little beaks!

A chick starter is designed to provide everything that chicks need to thrive and grow. Premium chick starters like Country Heritage and Laucke Mills have been designed by poultry nutritionists to provide a complete and balanced diet.

Choosing a top-quality chick feed will ensure your little chicks grow into healthy, productive hens. You should give your chicks unlimited access to their chick starter during the day.

Dine a Chook recommends:

4. Medicated versus unmedicated chick starter

Chick starters can be medicated or unmedicated. It is important to choose the right option for your chicks.

The term “medicated” refers to a coccidiostat, which is a medication that helps prevent coccidiosis.   Coccidiosis is a common chicken disease caused by the coccidia parasite. Coccidia are found everywhere, and all chickens carry them. A healthy adult bird can cope with coccidia infection, but coccidiosis in chicks is often fatal. Chicks need to build up their immunity and a coccidiostat helps them do just that.

Medicated chick feed
  • Contains a low-dose coccidiostat such as amprolium
  • Should never be fed to chicks that have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, as the medication and vaccine cancel each other out
  • Should never be fed to adult laying hens where you are consuming the eggs
Unmedicated chick feed
  • Does not contain a coccidiostat
  • Is suitable for chicks that have been vaccinated for coccidiosis
  • Leaves chicks more vulnerable to coccidiosis
  • May be more suitable if adult laying hens are able to steal the chicks’ feed

5. The dangers of homemade feed

Some websites suggest that you can safely feed chicks on a range of scraps and grain, or that you should make your own chick starter.

Making your own chicken feed for baby chicks is dangerous because:

  • Nutritional deficiencies can cause illness and death
  • Chicks are extra-vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies
  • Without a complete and balanced diet, chicks will fail to thrive and grow
  • A poor diet as a chick affects the health and productivity of a chicken for its whole life
  • The protein, energy, carbohydrate, vitamin and mineral content of all feed components must be carefully balanced to create a complete diet, which is hard to do on a home-scale

Chick starters are developed by qualified poultry nutritionists and carefully balanced to ensure they contain absolutely everything your chicks need to thrive. We would never recommend making homemade feed for baby chicks.

6. Baby chicks and water: hazard-reduction

After the first 24 hours, baby chicks need free access to fresh water at all times.

However, water can be dangerous for new chicks because:

  • They can drown, even in very shallow dishes
  • Chicks cannot regulate their body temperature and can die if they get wet and cold
  • A damp brooder (e.g. spillage) helps spread disease and can cause respiratory illness
  • Contaminated water (from faeces) spreads coccidiosis and other diseases

Protect your chicks by using a waterer with a drinking cup or nipple outlet. Drinking cups and nipples:

  • Reduce spillage
  • Prevent contamination with faeces
  • Stop chicks from standing in the water
  • Prevent drowning

Chicks can use a drinking cup or nipple outlet from day one. The   Dine a Chook 2L Drinker is a great option for brooders due to the small size.

If you don't have room for a drinker in your brooder, ensure you place stones in the water dish so chicks cannot sit in it or drown. Remove the wet litter around the drinker often and monitor chicks carefully to ensure they do not fall into the water and become wet and cold.

7. Treats, scraps and grit – What not to feed baby chicks

The simple answer to the question of ‘What do baby chicks eat?’ is everything. Chicks eat grains, seeds, pulses, fruit and vegetable scraps and treats like bread and mealworms. Baby chicks even eat egg and meat. But just because chicks eat these things, doesn’t mean that they are good for them.

Baby chicks raised by a mother hen will start eating “treats” within a few days of hatching. However, this does not necessarily mean that we should do the same when raising chicks in a brooder.

If your chicks have a complete starter feed, anything that isn’t this feed is a treat. This includes scraps, forage and other grains.

Why you shouldn’t give chicks treats for at least a month:

  • While they are still learning to recognize their feed, giving chicks treats confuses them
  • Young chicks don’t eat a lot, so even a seemingly tiny treat can have a big impact on nutrition
  • Chicks need to consume as much nutritionally-balanced chick starter as possible in order to thrive
  • Once chicks begin eating anything other than chick starter, they need grit. Oyster shell grit is dangerous for chicks and many common seashell grits are too large for very small chicks. New chicks may even fill up on grit instead of feed!

When your chicks are ready for a more varied diet, follow these simple rules for feeding treats to chicks:

  • Ensure your chicks have access to a suitable   source of grit
  • Choose soft treats – fruit or cooked veggies are a great starting point
  • Avoid unhealthy treats like processed carbohydrates, e.g. bread, and anything high in sugar or fat
  • Do not feed more treats than can be eaten in a few minutes
  • Pick up any uneaten treats straight away


Preventing deficiencies

Chicks need a nutritionally-balanced diet and a complete range of vitamins and minerals to grow and thrive.

Although a quality chick starter provides a complete, balanced diet, adding a   low-dose vitamin and mineral supplement provides extra insurance against deficiency.

Dine a Chook Mega Mineral is a bio-available vitamin and mineral supplement designed for daily use. Start your chicks off right with Mega Mineral to provide that little bit extra and prevent diet-related illnesses.

9. Deficiencies in chicks – symptoms and treatment

Nutritionally deficiencies can develop very quickly in baby chicks if their diet is not correct. Fortunately deficiencies are rare except where chicks are being fed a poorly-balanced, homemade diet. This is why we recommended feeding baby chicks a complete chick starter feed.

The most commonly recognizable deficiencies in chicks are vitamin E deficiency, also known as crazy chick disease, and vitamin B1 deficiency. Both deficiencies can be fatal and are best treated with a vitamin and mineral supplement as soon as they are recognized.

Vitamin E deficiency (Crazy chick disease) Vitamin B1 deficiency
Usually within the first month of hatching

Chicks are unable to walk and their head may twist sideways, over their back or down

Even when treated, chicks can be left with a permanent head tilt

Usually within a week of hatching

Chicks are unable to stand and their head is tilted up to the sky

Chicks usually recover rapidly with treatment

10. Preventing disease in baby chicks

Babies of all species are more vulnerable to illness and disease, and baby chickens are no different.

Keeping the brooder clean and dry, and preventing the contamination of feed and water with faeces, will help keep your chicks safe from disease.

Adding   Apple Cider Vinegar to the water has been shown to help prevent the spread of diseases, including coccidiosis.

Chicks that are raised without a mother hen often have a less robust immune system and are more susceptible to parasites. Using an   avian-specific probiotic in their water helps develop a healthy gut flora which protects from parasites, including coccidiosis.

Learn more about raising baby chicks on the Dine a Chook blog:
  • Creating a brooder box for baby chickens
  • Introducing new chicks to the flock
  • How to treat spraddle leg
  • The best names for chickens

Happy chick keeping!

Rachael at Dine a Chook Australia

What to Feed Baby Chickens

Chickens 101 Nutrition Raising Baby Chicks

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 26 June 2020

Like all newborns, baby chicks need special attention. Chicks need egg-cellent nutrition to equip them to travel the journey from chick to fully feathered adult. From down to feathers, from peeps to clucks, from an almost imperceptible nub on the top of their heads to pretty red combs, a chicken undergoes the biggest and most rapid transformation from the day they hatch up until about eight weeks old when they are almost at three quarters of their adult weight. That’s quite egg-straordinary, I know! So, what type of fuel do these amazing critters need for this awe inspiring journey? Let’s stake a “peck” and egg-splore the nutritional needs of baby chicks!

First things first, a baby chick needs access to fresh clean water at all times. Water plays a key role in a baby chick’s overall health and wellbeing by aiding most of its bodily functions. Chicks and mature chickens alike consume approximately double the amount of water as compared to feed and therefore, a lack of it can seriously affect a chick’s health.

For starters, to get a jump-start in life, chicks begin by pecking at Chick Starter! Chick Starter contains all the essential nutrients a chick needs to grow and develop into either an egg-cellent egg layer or a robust cock-a-doodler! Typically, a chick will eat a starter mix up until eight weeks old; however, many commercial brands now sell chick starter as Chick Starter/Grower and it is fed up until Point of Lay in hens or at sixteen to eighteen weeks for the young gentlemen.  A great alternative to commercial chick starter is a wonderful concoction of two staple ingredients; eggs and oatmeal. Simply, hard boil some eggs, mash them up and mix with oatmeal. Although, if you are raising a large number of fuzzy little chicks, feeding commercial starter is a wise choice and is available at most farm supply centers.

As with humans, accurate nutrition in these early stages is essential to ensure your chick's growth. Even the smallest inaccuracies in these early stages could cause them serious health issues and even death. To become confident and learn all there is to know about raising healthy happy chicks into egg-laying hens, visit Chickenpedia. They have a comprehensive course that will give you step-by-step instructions at every step of the way. I highly recommend them to all my readers.

The anatomy of chick starter begins with a most necessary nutrient-protein. Next to water, protein, both plant and animal, is the second most essential nutrient for young chicks. This star body builder stimulates the growth of muscles, tissues and organs-it’s basically what makes your wee ones grow. Feel free to offer your young chicks some small worms plucked after a spring or summer shower-nature’s homemade protein! Carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins and minerals make up the rest of the cast of nutrients needed by your ever growing wee chooks. Rest assured, though, in the fact that commercial chick starter comprises everything a baby chick needs to mature into a lovely hen or dapper rooster.

Whilst I can give you some knowledge you get you started, it's our friends over at Chickenpedia that can give you a fully comprehensive guide to raising baby chickens. They cover everything you need, from food & water to temperature and vaccinations, so you can experience all the triumphs and avoid disasters with these precious little fluffballs.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty matter of offering your baby chicks grit. Do baby chicks or growing young chicks need grit? Basically, if your babies are only eating starter, then they really don’t need added grit. If however, you begin adding supplemental foods such as kitchen scraps and treats, then a little bit o’ grit is necessary to aid digestion. Grit is egg-actly what it sounds like-minute pieces of earth, stone, and sand. If you live in a nice temperate climate, and your babies are out and about much of the time, they will most likely “peck up” sufficient grit to balance out their diet.

Do you give your baby chicks shell grit? Tell us in the comments below, I would love to hear from you. 

An alternative to commercial chick starter, is to simply make your own baby chicken food. Although this choice provides you with the knowledge and peace of mind that your babies are getting egg-actly and only what you put into it, it is a complex process and can be difficult attempting to purchase all the necessary ingredients and then measuring out the egg-act quantities.

There really are no guidelines as to the amount of feed to offer baby chicks. Being the “always hungry” ravenous little critters that they are, it’s just fine to keep their feeders filled and at the ready. They will peck and peck until their little bodies let them know they’ve reached their fill. Then, being the egg-spert little poopers that they are, they’ll poop it right out again. Uh, oh…time to clean the bedding, yet again! Such is the life of a chicken keeper-aren’t you the lucky clucky one! Ha Ha

Oh and… I should also mention, click here to check out Chickenpedia. As a member, you will get access to the Ultimate Chicken Health Course. I highly recommend this to all of my readers because it has everything you didn’t know you needed to know (and lots of free guides). So, don’t wing it. Click here to check out Chickenpedia.

Sources and further reading

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diet in the first days of life, chicken feed norms

The diet of chickens, especially small ones, is different from the diet of adult chickens. Many breeders who raise chickens in the household are interested in how and what to feed the chicks so that they develop properly. For healthy growth, chickens require a balanced diet in sufficient quantities. The composition of the products depends on the direction and age of the chicks.


  1. What does healthy chicks eat?
  2. General rules for formulating rations
  3. What to feed chickens?
  4. General rules for feeding
  5. Feed for chickens of various ages
  6. Feeding frequency
  7. Feeding Features
  8. Farmer's Councils

What does a healthy chicken diet consist of?

Sources of proteins, vitamins, micro and macro elements are products of plant and animal origin, as well as substances synthesized in the laboratory. For the production of finished formulations in the factory, only high-quality proven raw materials are used. In feed for laying hens and broilers are introduced:

  • amino acids,
  • vitamins,
  • minerals,
  • probiotics,
  • antioxidants,
  • prebiotics,
  • coccidiostats,
  • mold inhibitors.

It is quite difficult to independently calculate the proportions and mix the components thoroughly without the appropriate equipment.

General dietary guidelines

The terms of growing meat breeds are 1.5-2 months, laying hens - up to six months. During this time, the bird should gain weight of 2.5-3 kg. To accelerate the growth of muscle mass in broilers, it is recommended to use specialized feed. It fully meets the needs of the bird in proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The composition and consumption of feed should be appropriate for the age of the chicks.

At 1-2 weeks of life, the foundation of the skeleton is laid in chickens, muscle mass increases at an average pace. At this time, it is necessary to introduce a sufficient amount of proteins, fiber, and mineral components into their diet.

In the growth phase, chickens are gaining weight intensively. They need as many amino acids and proteins as possible, which act as a building material for cells, as well as complex carbohydrates. The dose of vitamins and minerals received with food is increased.

At the finishing stage, the amount of carbohydrates is reduced so that the broilers gain more muscle mass, and not fat. At this stage, it is important to prevent weight loss. For these purposes, finishing compound feed is introduced into the diet.

What to feed chickens?

Cereals form the basis of the diet.

Corn One of the most useful and nutritious ingredients. Corn is the leader among grains in terms of protein content, while it contains less fiber than other cereals. The product is easily digested and well absorbed.
oats Source of many amino acids. It is considered a dietary product, but contains a lot of fiber. In large quantities, it causes blockage of the intestines, so its share in the composition of the feed does not exceed 20%. Oats are given in a purified form, completely removing the film from the grains. The size of the fraction depends on the age of the bird. Sifted oatmeal is usually added to prestarter formulations.
Wheat Contains a large amount of vitamin E, B. Feed wheat is usually used in bird feed. The percentage can be up to 30%.
Rye It is a source of a number of useful proteins, but contains too much mucus, which negatively affects the digestive system of chickens. It is added to some feeds in small quantities.
Barley Practically not inferior to oats in useful properties, but also contains a lot of fiber. It is introduced into the composition only in a purified and sifted form.
Buckwheat Despite the fact that the product contains components useful for poultry, it is rarely used. Basically, it is added to granulated feed, because. in loose form, chickens do not peck it.
Bran Products of processing grain crops are introduced to increase the caloric content of the diet. By themselves, they have no nutritional value, so they are rarely used.

Peeled vegetables are used as succulent feed.

Potato Improves poultry digestion, promotes the absorption of nutrients. It is introduced in boiled dehydrated form. In the process of preparing food, it is unacceptable to use green potatoes, since poisonous solanine has formed in them.
Beet It normalizes the work of the intestines, prevents its blockage, provides the needs of chickens for vitamin B2, carotene, sugar. It can be given both fresh and boiled. The content of beets in the diet is about 15%.
Pumpkin It contains a lot of vitamins and microelements. The product is added in an amount not exceeding 15% of the total volume.

Protein components provide the daily requirement for amino acids. Protein sources are also rich in vitamins and minerals. They can be of plant and animal origin. Amino acids are well absorbed by the body. Animal proteins are obtained from various types of flour:

  • fish. This product makes up to 8% of the diet, but is not used in broiler feed so that the meat does not have a specific smell;
  • bone. In terms of the amount of proteins, it is not inferior to cereals, and at the same time it is rich in fats (11%) and vitamins A and E. It is given to chickens from a month old;
  • blood. The product is rich in essential amino acids, but in high concentrations it provokes indigestion. Its share in the diet should not exceed 4%;
  • pen. This component is used as an available source of protein to balance the feed composition. It is added in small amounts (up to 2%).

Dairy products are also a source of well-digestible animal protein: cottage cheese or whey. Their inclusion in feed mixtures for laying hens increases the egg production and fertility of chickens.

Legumes are richest in vegetable proteins:

  • soy in terms of percentage and qualitative composition of proteins and amino acids is practically not inferior to products of animal origin, it also contains vitamins and minerals;
  • peas also provide protein requirements for poultry, although to a lesser extent; chickens do not eat it well because of the specific smell and taste, therefore, no more than 10% is introduced into the feed;
  • soybean and sunflower meal and cake are an inexpensive, highly digestible source of amino acids. In compositions for adult chickens, their share is 15-17%, for chickens and young animals - 10%.

General feeding rules

Each individual should consume approximately 15-30 g of food per day: how much depends on the breed, weight of the chicks, and the intensity of their development. In general, the amount of feed each time should be such that the young hens will eat it in 30 or 40 minutes. The remains must be removed from the feeders so as not to deteriorate, and the feeders themselves must be washed and dried.

If the chicks do not eat the feed given to them often, then its rate should be reduced. If, on the contrary, the food is eaten quickly, then it is desirable to increase its volume.

Feed for chickens of various ages

PC-2 Designed for chicks under 7 weeks old. It is produced in the form of finely ground grains, designed for an insufficiently unformed digestive system, easily digestible, contains all the useful trace elements.
PC-3 Balanced mix for young animals 8-20 weeks old. Promotes rapid growth and proper formation of the reproductive system. It is produced in the form of grains with medium-sized fractions.
PC-5 Designed for broiler chickens from 2 weeks to 1 month of age. It consists of a complex of easily digestible components that stimulate a set of muscle mass.
PC-6 It has similar characteristics, but is designed for broilers older than a month.

All types of feed can be divided into three groups:

carbohydrate Protein Vitamin
Promote accelerated growth and muscle mass gain. Their composition is dominated by cereals and vegetables. Chickens digest foods high in carbohydrates well, which cause a slowdown in metabolism and rapid weight gain. Such feeds are designed for broilers and increase the average carcass weight. Such compound feeds are developed mainly for laying hens. A large amount of protein increases the productivity of the bird, improves the palatability of the eggs, and makes the shell stronger. Strengthen the immune system, help to survive the winter period. Usually produced in the form of concentrates, which enrich the main diet.

According to the form of release, the compositions are of 2 types.

Loose ones consist of fine-grained components. The disadvantage of such compositions is that they are worse absorbed. The chicken chooses tasty crumbs from the feed, and the less appetizing ingredients are thrown away. As a result, the bird receives less nutrients. In addition, a lot of dust remains in the feeder. However, it is impossible to completely abandon loose compositions. Chickens in the first weeks of life are not able to swallow and digest large granules, therefore they can peck only small grains. For broilers, loose compound feed can be introduced into the diet from the first days of life, and for laying hens - from the second week. When using dry mixes, it is important to provide the hens with sufficient drinking water.

Expanded feed is produced by short-term heat treatment under high pressure. Nutrient mixtures are in the form of granules and contain liquid components in their composition. The advantages of expanded compositions include:

  • neutralization of pathogenic microflora (salmonella, E. coli) and mold spores due to exposure to high temperatures;
  • improved digestibility, since the bird cannot choose individual pieces.

However, when heated, some of the vitamins are destroyed.

Feeding frequency

The first time chickens are fed on the same day they are born. Then, until the age of 7 days, the chicks of meat breeds are fed 6-8 times a day, from the 2nd week of life - 6 times, from the 3rd - 4 times a day, by the age of one month, chickens are fed three times a day. Chicks of egg breeds up to 1.5 weeks are fed 5-6 times a day, and by the month they are gradually transferred to 3 meals a day.

When choosing a mixture, it is recommended to give preference to complete formulations. However, if the breeder has enough of his own food, you can limit yourself to concentrated additives to enrich it. Such compositions are marked with the QC marking. Concentrates for meat and egg-bearing breeds solve different problems:

for broilers for laying hens
  • reduce the percentage of marriage in the livestock,
  • increase the average daily weight gain,
  • strengthen the skeleton,
  • promote the growth of muscle tissue, not fat, improve the taste characteristics of meat
  • prevent joint deformities,
  • prevent pen loss,
  • increase the number and size of eggs,
  • increase shell hardness,
  • improves the nutritional quality of eggs,
  • increase hatchability of chicks

It is unacceptable to use concentrates as the main feed, since an excess of nutrients is no less harmful than their deficiency. BVMB is introduced into the composition of the mash, taking into account the age of the chickens.

Feeding Features
1st day of life Feeding of chickens of egg breeds begins immediately after they dry out. The first food for newborn chickens should be a hard-boiled egg. It is cut as small as possible so that the chicks can swallow small crumbs and roll it in semolina to prevent pieces from sticking to the paws and fluff. In the brooder where they are, they put a drinker with clean, boiled and cooled water. Newly hatched chicks are also fed boiled eggs under the brood hen.
2nd day On the 2nd day, the chicks are already given a mash of eggs and homemade low-fat fresh cottage cheese (the ratio of ingredients is 1 to 1). The formula for feeding day-old chicks should be fresh and fed every 3 hours.
Week 1 From the 3rd day, chickens are fed with a more varied mixture of cottage cheese, boiled eggs, crumbly porridge from corn, oat or wheat chips (the share of cereals should be 65%). Finely chopped greens and boiled red carrots grated on a fine grater are added to them. You can give germinated grain or grass flour at the rate of 2-3 g per chicken per day. More than 5 g of such flour cannot be fed due to the high content of fiber in it. Separately, a little skimmed milk or yogurt is poured into the container; it is better not to add them to the mixers. Twice a week, a few crystals of potassium permanganate are added to the water so that it becomes slightly pink. Keep it in drinkers for no more than 0.5 hours, and then replace it with clean water. This protects chickens from stomach diseases. You can feed the chicks with special industrial compound feed for chickens from the first days of life. It is made up of products that are easily absorbed by the body of small chickens and fully satisfy all their needs.
2-4 weeks From 1.5 weeks of life, a little sunflower or soybean meal (3-4% of the total food volume), chalk or shells, bone meal (5-7% of the feed amount or 2-3 g per 1 chick). Particles of top dressing should not be more than 1-2 mm. Very fine gravel or sand washed in water is placed in a separate container. After 10 days, eggs are removed from the diet, but other components are introduced, for example, root crops (boiled potatoes, etc.). Salt, rice, rye, wheat bran (up to 10%), herbal flour (6-10%) are introduced into the menu of two-week-old chickens. From 3 weeks old, chicks gradually begin to accustom themselves to whole grains.
1 month At this age, the young are already quite strong, they can spend time walking, where they independently find greenery, seeds of various plants, worms and beetles. If the birds are in a closed aviary and cannot pluck the grass, then they need to be given it along with grain and vegetables. In general, the share of green grass in the diet of one-month-old young animals should be about 1/3 part, no less. Grain can be given both ground and whole: the birds are already able to peck it. It can be anything: wheat, barley, corn, oats, etc. At this age, legumes can also be fed: peas, chickpeas, small beans, etc. In addition to grain products, you can feed root crops, fresh or boiled, to monthly chickens, vegetables from the garden and their tops, kitchen waste of both plant and animal origin, bran, meal and cake, compound feed. From mineral additives - bone and fish meal, chalk or lime, shell rock, salt. In addition to food, young animals should always have clean water in drinking bowls and pebbles that the bird needs for normal digestion.

Chickens of meat breeds differ from egg breeds in that they need more complete proteins and vitamins, so their diet should be tailored to this feature. Therefore, it is necessary to give more protein feed, such as legumes (grains and green mass), meat and bone and fish meal, fresh kitchen waste. It should also be borne in mind that they eat more, so they need to be fed more often, especially in the first days of life.

Farmer's councils

When changing nutrition, the sensitivity of chickens to changes in composition should be taken into account. For this reason, birds should be transferred to a different diet gradually, over 3-5 days, daily adding new food to the usual food, gradually increasing its amount.

There should always be fresh water in the drinker, in which a little potassium permanganate is diluted - so much so that the liquid does not turn pink.

It is advisable to mix common salt (up to 5 g per 1 kg of the mixture) and ground egg shells into the feed.

The main disadvantage of self-prepared mixtures is the fragility of their storage. In contrast, prepared feed can be left in the feeder for as long as the chicks need to saturate.

In our company, you purchase safe, certified mixtures with high nutritional value. Products exceed the requirements of GOSTs in quality. At your request, it is possible to develop an individual recipe for specific chicken breeds.

The MEGAMIX company cooperates with a network of dealers in Moscow and regions. You can clarify the terms of the order and delivery by phone +7 (8442) 97-97-97 or on our website.

Free consultation

Ask a question to a specialist or order a price list





How to feed chickens from the first days of life at home: tips, video


  1. How to feed newborn chicks
  2. Meals on the first day
  3. Nutrition during the first 10 days
  4. Nutrition for chicks over 10 days old
  5. Peculiarities of feeding chickens of various breeds
  6. Video

To raise a viable flock of chickens at home, it is very important to know what to feed the chickens from the first days of life. Regardless of whether the chicks hatched or they were born in an incubator, babies first of all need careful care and a balanced diet. The rapid growth and good development of the bird provides a complete environmentally friendly diet, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins (A, C, E, D, group B) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus).

The body of chicks is very susceptible to the slightest violations of the diet, feed composition and quality

How to feed newborn chicks

The first feeding of chicks should be carried out immediately after they hatch and dry. Still uncertainly standing on tiny paws, the chicken begins to reflexively peck at all the crumbs that are in sight and resemble food. As soon as the first food enters his esophagus, the digestion mechanism starts. It is necessary to check that this happens no later than 1-2 hours after emerging from the egg. Within 10-12 hours from the moment of hatching, the remaining yolk residue in the yolk sac serves as an easily digestible food, which, in addition to pecking food, helps to compensate for the energy expended in breaking through the eggshell.

The best food for the first time is small corn grits or special feed for chickens. It is better to scatter them on paper or cardboard spread on the floor, so that it is more convenient for the chicks to peck.

It is also necessary to take care of drinking: on the first day it is recommended to add a solution of glucose (3-5%) and 1 g of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) per 10 liters of drinking water to the water

Feeding on the first day considered a hard-boiled chicken egg. But recent scientific research in the field of poultry farming proves that this is fundamentally wrong.

Firstly, the stomach of the chick with such a consistency of food does not receive the proper load, which leads to dysfunction of the muscles of the digestive organs. Secondly, there is an oversaturation of the body with easily digestible proteins and fats, which negatively affects the absorption of B vitamins, which ensure the formation of the nervous system.

On the first day, experts advise adding semolina or corn grits to a finely chopped boiled egg

Despite the many years of successful experience in feeding day-old chicks at home with boiled chicken eggs, one should not ignore the opinion of experts. Perhaps the implementation of their recommendations will contribute to obtaining a more viable and healthy livestock.

Feeding in the first 10 days

From the first to the tenth day of life, chicks need food every two hours, including at night. The best food for them during this period is a mash of hard-boiled and chopped eggs or crumbly cottage cheese with cereals.

From the second day, in addition to semolina and corn grits, finely crushed barley and wheat, ground oatmeal, millet or a special combined feed for chickens can be added to cottage cheese or eggs.

According to the norm per serving, calculated for one feeding of 10 birds, 50 g of cereals are mixed with 1 egg or 50 g of crumbly cottage cheese. It is also useful to add powdered milk to the mixture (approximately 12 g or 1 / 4 from the weight of the cereal) and multivitamins (grind 1 tablet).

At first, it is necessary to monitor whether all the chicks are pecking at the food, and feel for each goiter - how full it is after feeding. Chicks with empty crops are placed in separate cages and fed individually until their appetite is restored.

Monitoring the state of the goiter will help identify unhealthy individuals and provide them with timely assistance

Finely chopped greens are added to the mash for livestock older than three days of age: young or dried nettles, alfalfa, clover, dandelions, plantain, green onions.

For week-old chicks, crumbly mash is prepared based on fermented milk products, broth from fish or meat waste, which are added at the rate of 5 to 7 g per chick. Such mixtures can not be kept in the feeder for longer than 30-40 minutes, uneaten leftovers should be thrown away immediately. Sour food can cause poisoning and even death of pets.

In addition to cottage cheese, babies are fed with other lactic acid products and milk processing waste, using yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and whey. They are an excellent source of calcium and proteins, which are essential for musculoskeletal formation and growth, and also support the microflora of the digestive tract. As a rule, milk is given in the morning, after which the drinkers are filled with fresh water. Chickens that do not like curdled milk and refuse it, have to be picked up and forced to drink from a pipette.

Fresh milk can cause indigestion and sticky plumage, therefore it is excluded from the menu of birds.

A tray with coarse sand or fine gravel is placed in the poultry house, in which small fluffy lumps bathe with pleasure and peck at the grains of sand they need for digestion

From the 6th to the 10th day of life, mineral supplements in the form of crushed shell rock, well-boiled and ground eggshells, chalk.

In order to disinfect the water, it is advised to pour a weak solution of potassium permanganate into the drinkers twice a week for half an hour. Giving potassium permanganate unnecessarily in the first days of life of chickens should not be.

Feeding for chicks over 10 days old

Broods older than 10 days old are no longer required to be fed at night, the breaks between feedings during the day are gradually increased to 3-4 hours.

The menu includes chopped vegetables: potatoes (boiled), fodder beets (fresh, boiled or steamed), grated carrots (preferably red), pumpkin, zucchini, swede. Some poultry farmers also give stale bread soaked in kefir, after squeezing and crumbling it.

Starting from 3 weeks of age, chicks spend most of their time in a paddock or open pasture. The grass for them is no longer chopped, it is hung in bunches on the walls of the house. The amount of feed is gradually increased, while increasing the content of vitamins and minerals in it. Waste of sea fish, fish or meat and bone meal, fish oil are added to the mixers.

Monthly chicks are transferred from crushed cereals to crushed grain, and from a month and a half they are already given whole grain or compound feed specially balanced for age requirements

For chicks to grow up healthy, they need to be given natural and fresh food. It is important to observe the intervals between feedings in accordance with age, while the babies must be constantly full.

Peculiarities of feeding chickens of various breeds

There are certain differences in feeding poultry intended for different economic purposes: . From the moment they hatch, their diet should be conducive to the formation of hens and preparation for laying eggs. In most breeds, there is a hereditary inverse relationship between adult weight and fecundity. Therefore, young laying hens need to be fed in such a way as to ensure a balanced intake of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and beneficial nutrients, but at the same time avoid gaining excess weight.

Future laying hens need to be provided with complete, but not too high-calorie nutrition

Here is an approximate composition of a dry mash for week-old chicks in the table:

Product Content in total mass, %
Millet or corn grits 45
Ground bran 20
Boiled carrots, finely grated 15
Sunflower meal 10
Meat and bone meal 5
Herbal meal 3
Feed ground chalk 2

Starting from the 11th day of life, fodder yeast (2-3% of the dry base mass) is introduced into the menu of future laying hens, and grass flour is replaced with fresh herbs.

On the 12-15th day, crushed grain is gradually added to the ground grain, by the 30th day, bringing their ratio to equal proportions. Then the young are transferred to whole grain wheat or barley.

Egg cuts at 8.5 weeks of age to prevent precocious puberty and early onset of lay - early-laying females lay smaller eggs throughout the production period. First of all, they reduce the calorie content, reducing the proportion of crushed grain in the feed. To enhance the feeling of fullness, increase the content of fiber (vegetables, herbal flour, sunflower cake, chopped greens).

Meat-and-egg breeds

As a rule, amateur poultry breeders who want to provide the daily table with both fresh eggs and meat products are engaged in the breeding of universal (meat-and-egg) breeds.

The diet of universal type chickens should contain more protein and easily digestible carbohydrates

The approximate composition of the dry base of the mash is summarized in the table:

Product Content in total mass, %
Corn grits 50
Boiled chopped potatoes 15
Meat and bone meal 15
Sunflower meal 10
Chopped herbs 5
Feed fat 2
Feed yeast 2
Feed ground chalk 1

Starting from the 6th day, during the evening feeding, low-fat cottage cheese and curdled milk warmed to room temperature are added to the mash every other day.

Meat-and-egg chicks require a more varied diet than egg-laying chicks. Therefore, upon reaching the age of 7 days, once every 2 days they need to be given a weak warm decoction of yarrow, which maintains normal digestive function, prevents the appearance of internal parasites and the development of intestinal disorders.

Monthly chicks are recommended to give earthworms or mosquito larvae (forage bloodworms) as another source of proteins and trace elements. If this is not possible, the feed is enriched with special protein supplements.

By the age of 2 months, young animals are also reduced in caloric intake, but this is compensated by an increase in the content of proteins necessary for the formation of muscle mass. The normal development of skeletal muscles during the growth period provides a set of muscle mass in adults.

Meat type (broilers)

Broilers are the champions in growth and weight gain. By two months, the weight of the bird reaches from 2 to 3 kg. Usually, at this age, young animals are slaughtered, since its further fattening is considered impractical.

Maximum weight gain in such a short time is achieved with balanced and high-quality feed

Even at home, commercial compound feed is most often bought for growing broilers. It has the optimal ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and also contains all the necessary trace elements and vitamins in the right proportions.

Alternatively, you can make your own excellent nutritional formula at a much lower cost.

Approximate Composition of Dry Base for Broiler Chicks Hatch to 2 Weeks of Age :

Product Content in total mass, %
Corn grits 50
Fine wheat 16
Sunflower meal 14
Whey or low fat kefir 12
Barley 8

Composition for feeding broilers over 2 weeks old and before slaughter :

Product Content in total mass, %
Corn grits 48
Sunflower meal 19
Wheat bran 13
Meat and bone or fish meal 7
Feed yeast 5
Return dry 3
Fresh herbs 3
Feed fat 1


Experienced farmers share their opinions and useful tips on feeding chickens from the first hours of life in the following videos:

About the author:

Svetlana Verba

She was born and raised in a private house at a time when cilantro or lettuce, adjacent to dill and parsley in the garden, were considered exotic, and it was a great success to get a new plant for growing in a garden or flower bed. Now retired, I spend most of my time in the country. There is enough space on the plot for a small garden and a spacious vegetable garden. Near the house, she arranged an alpine hill with a lake, a wonderful rose garden. In the fall, after harvesting and preparing the site for winter, I like to sit on the Internet and slowly choose new plants. I like to share my observations, achievements and experience with other people who are not indifferent to nature.

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Did you know that:

Both manure and compost are rightfully the basis of organic farming. Their presence in the soil significantly increases the yield and improves the taste of vegetables and fruits. In terms of properties and appearance, they are very similar, but they should not be confused. Humus - rotted manure or bird droppings. Compost - rotted organic residues of various origins (spoiled food from the kitchen, tops, weeds, thin twigs). Humus is considered a better fertilizer, compost is more accessible.


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