What do chicks eat: correct nutrition and quantities

Taking care of newborn chicks is a great responsibility: they are very fragile and sensitive animals that need a safe environment and adequate nutrition for the different needs of the life stage they face. So let’s see what hen chicks eat and how to take care of them so that they grow healthy and strong.

Like any growing animal, a chick must follow a diet that adequately balances proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins . Feed for newly hatched chicks will therefore be different from feed for older chicks. It is always advisable to strictly follow the instructions given on the information sheets of the various feeds and, if in doubt about the actual age of a chick, contact an expert who can determine it.

To feed a chick correctly, you must therefore follow a commercial diet . It is essential to know how to choose the right feed, how to administer it correctly and it is equally important to know how to enrich the diet with a homemade feed for chicks, in order to integrate over time all the nutrients they need with growth. .

On the market you can find different ranges of products  adapted to the nutritional needs of each age group: from the feeding of newborn chicks to that dedicated, after the first week of life, to animals intended for meat consumption rather than for the consumption of eggs. . If you are following the growth of hens for decorative purposes, as pets, an even different diet will be indicated. For the first few weeks of life, however, the diet is the same for all types of chicks.

Feeding just hatched hen chicks 

The chick that hatches from the egg has an already quite developed appearance but still needs heat and an adequate diet . Observing how the newly hatched chicks eat, we notice that they are already able to eat alone  but it is always better to encourage them, wetting their beak with water and bringing them closer to the manger. Since they were still well fed inside the egg, there is no need to be alarmed if they do not eat for the first 24-48 hours after exiting the egg.

It is important to pay attention to what the newborn chicks eat : they need  well mixed grains, feeds and flours , so that the various nutrients are well proportioned according to their growth phase. Generally on sale there are commercial feeds formulated specifically for this phase of their life, which can be administered from the first day.

These feeds contain fine maize split, soybean extracted meal, roasted whole soybeans, corn germ expeller, maize gluten, soft wheat bran, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, corn germ oil and other vitamin supplements and mineral salts. Chicks should eat high quality feed , specially made to foster regular and balanced growth . However, it may happen to find industrial feeds on the market with many vitamins, mineral salts and supplements that stimulate the growth process too much. These are products that should be mixed with simple flours and chopped grains such as legumes, wheat, millet and corn.

What mature chicks eat 

The chicks are no longer considered newborns when they no longer need the infrared lamp and enter a growth phase in which the protein requirement represents about 20% of the total feeding. It is important to continue offering them food for growth until around 4-5 months , when the chicks reach sexual maturity.

The chopped food is the most appropriate at this stage, given that hand-they grow they are able to eat larger pieces. It is also possible to provide sand for hens . In chickens, food maceration occurs in the gizzard with the help of gravel or small stones and by sprinkling some chicken sand on the food we can help this process for the chicks.

In addition to the basic diet, which must be focused on commercial feed, we can supplement with other food such as: meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, fruit, tomatoes, bread. As for the amount of feed to be given to the chicks in relation to the rest of the diet, we say that supplements should never make up more than 10% of the diet .

There are a few foods not recommended : onions, citrus fruits, avocados, potato peels, rhubarb leaves, or dried beans. In case the chicks live in an outdoor chicken coop, they will begin to ingest sand and gravel on their own, as well as feed on grass, seeds, insects, snails, worms and more.

How to feed chicken chicks 

It is important to always be especially careful when storing feed . In the event that it gets wet and mold forms it is very important to throw it away because, if ingested by animals, it could cause them diseases. To avoid this, it is good practice to  check the amount of food we buy and to store it in dry and well-sheltered places.

It is necessary to have a feeding trough of the right size , proportionate to the number of chicks, which avoids creating overcrowding. In addition, it must be provided with a base that allows them to easily access the food , maintaining the right proportion between capacity and height. A final notion of extreme importance is to administer fresh water every day using a drinking trough .


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