Those little chicks you picked up from your local farm store this spring won’t stay little and fluffy for long. With proper health, nutrition and care, they should grow and develop into young, healthy, productive birds that will provide you with protein-packed eggs.
Nutrition is vital to keeping your chicks growing up healthy and strong. Like every living being, they need the essentials: water, energy, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Providing them with the proper sources of these nutrients is up to you, as their caretakers. Let’s take a closer look.
Water is the most essential nutrient. Make sure your backyard birds have clean, fresh, cool water every day. It is important to keep their water source out of the direct sunlight, so it doesn’t get too hot, and it is also important to keep it semi-covered or in a shallow dish, so young chicks don’t drown or get dirt and debris in the clean water. A variety of drinkers are available. The important thing for you to remember is to provide clean, fresh water daily.
Water is also tied to feed intake. If you want your chickens to eat, you need to make sure their water is fresh and available, as they will typically drink twice as much as they eat.
Energy is required for your birds to grow and prosper. It comes in various forms that need to be provided to your chickens in balanced rations to get the most benefit. Energy should be provided through carbs, protein and fat. Most complete chicken grower feeds should have these ingredients, but it is always best to double check the labels to be sure.
Carbs will make up the majority of your birds’ diet, and most of them will come from cereal grains like corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, rye and millet. There are two classes of carbs that include digestible carbohydrates like starch and non-digestible carbohydrates like cellulose. On a feed tag, complex non-digestible carbohydrates will be termed “crude fiber.” Crude fiber aids in digestion, but too much can hinder a bird’s growth and give them intestinal challenges.
Protein is important for both the health of the bird and the health of the humans that consume the eggs the chickens produce. Different stages of production require various levels of protein. For example, a starter diet contains typically around 24% protein, where grower and finisher diets are 20% and 18%, respectively. Hens that are laying eggs normally only require about 16%, making them a little less expensive to feed. Soybean meal is a great source of protein; however, some supplements will also have protein in them as well. Always check the feed labels to know what ingredients are in the bags and at what level.
Vitamins and Minerals
Just like you are likely to take your daily dietary supplements to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need, it is wise to provide your backyard flock with daily supplements too. All living beings need certain levels of vitamins and minerals to help them build strong bones, healthy, shiny feathers, produce eggs with hard shells and yellow yolks and overall health.
One way to help your chickens achieve their health goals is with Backyard Boost® Daily Essentials. This is a pelleted protein supplement for poultry designed to maximize digestibility and egg production. It contains AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. In addition, Backyard Boost Daily Essentials contains additional protein to support growth, feather quality and egg production.
Since Backyard Boost is all-natural it won’t interfere with your chickens’ feed and will enhance the nutritional value of feed they are already consuming. It is a pellet that can be top-dressed in with the feed they are already eating or be scattered on the ground for the chickens to peck at.
Keep your backyard birds healthy. Keep them growing. Keep your entire flock flourishing from fluffy little chicks to the protein producing chickens they are meant to be. All with boosted eco-friendly nutrition.