Chicken feed can be more complicated than you expected.
Before you get a pet, you probably wonder what’s best when it comes to their nutrition. Well, it’s the same for chickens. Deciding what to feed your chickens can be complicated, especially due to the world of options you have available. What’s better: pellet or whole grain? Is organic better or can non-organic work just as well? What type of chicken feed will keep your chickens healthy? In this article, we’re going to discuss all the different types of food you can give your chickens, how they differ, and how to choose the one that fits your style and chickens the best.
What Is Chicken Feed?
Let’s start by defining the concept. Chicken feed is basically the food you give your chickens in order to (you guessed it) feed them. All chicken feed contains protein, vitamins, enzymes, fiber, and minerals. Some may contain amino acids and other additives, such as Omega 3. The variation of each depends on the type of chicken feed, the brand, and other factors. Bear in mind, you need to feed your chickens a high-quality product that meets all their nutritional requirements at the life stage they’re in.
Types of Chicken Feed
Mash chicken feed is a loose and unprocessed type of chicken feed. It’s similar to soil in texture, which makes it the finest variety available. It’s normally used for baby chicks since it’s easier to digest.
Crumble chicken feed is like a coarser variety of mash, but not as physically compact as pellets. Similar to oatmeal in consistency, crumble is a semi-loose variety of chicken feed. We particularly love Modesto Milling Organic Layer Crumble Feed because it’s non-GMO, contains 17% Protein, and can help your flock maintain a healthy appearance with bright feathers.
This is the most common variety of chicken feed. The little compact cylinders are preferred by many owners since they hold their shape and are easy to manage, store, and serve. Basically, pellets help lessen waste when compared to alternatives like mash feed. Modesto Milling Organic Layer Pellet Feed is a farmers’ favorite because it’s both soy-free and corn-free, contains 17% Protein, and is formulated to focus on health and longevity. Organic Lovely Lady Booster Pellet is also a layer feed supplement designed for senior and mature laying hens, who need more protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also non-GMO, soy-free, and 100% Certified Organic. It will help complete your chicken’s diet for a boost in energy and protein without soy.
Whole-grain feed is precisely what it sounds like: feeding whole grains to your flock. Not mashed, not crumbled, not pressed into pellets. In the last few years, it has taken on more of a DIY-approach since certain farmers like to use it to ensure they’re feeding their girls exactly what they need. Whole grain can include a mixture of oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, wheat, cracked corn, lentils, brewer’s yeast, and kelp. One of our favorite whole grain brands is Scratch & Peck, since it’s designed to be the healthiest and most natural product for your laying hens, with a high amount of calcium for healthy eggshells.
Chicken Feed Slang
While investigating, you’ll also find terms like starter, grower, and layer chicken feed. Starter chicken feed is a high-protein variety designed for baby chicks. Grower feed is for “teenage” chickens, which meets the requirements of chickens that are anywhere from 6 to 20 weeks old. Layer chicken feed is the diet your chickens will predominantly follow in order to make the most of their egg laying abilities.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
This may be the biggest battle when it comes to what you should be feeding your chickens. Should you shower your chickens’ stomachs with only organic chicken feed? Or is non-organic good enough?
Let’s start by defining them. Organic chicken feed refers to the feed that has been certified to be free of additives like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other substances like GMO (genetically modified organism). This is harder than it sounds, because in order to certify a product as organic the seeds and the land they grow on must be free of these substances. Since there are no pesticides used during the process, this means that human labor while growing must be a lot more intense. The end product must also be shipped and processed separately from conventional food. All of this makes the product both more natural and more expensive.
Non-organic or conventional chicken feed is regular feed that does not meet any of the above requirements. The major deterrent is GMOs. This is because “the companies that manufacture GMO items say they are safe and there are no known ill effects, the opposing camp say it is too soon to tell if there are truly ‘no side effects’.” Some animal toxicity studies with certain GM foods have shown that they may toxically affect several organs and systems, thus generating health risks. And though more research needs to be done, one thing is for sure: if you plan on eating either your chickens’ eggs or even prepare to sell your chickens for consumption, it’s easier to play the safe role and protect your chickens, yourself, your family and others by keeping the food organic – be it for yourself or for the chickens.
In the end, whatever type of chicken feed you decide to use is up to you. Mash, crumble, pellets, scratch & peck, or whole-grain are all great options when it comes to your chicken’s diet and happiness. Just bear in mind that organic will always trump non-organic when it comes to safety and quality.