What is the Importance of Strong Nutrition in Healthy Chickens?

As a farmer, maintaining the health of your herd should always be a priority. However, with so many animals to consider, it’s easy to want to avoid looking deeply into the details of chicken health. Unfortunately, however, an unhealthy herd can quickly lead to a loss in profit, whether for meat or eggs, or a general loss of life quality for your herd. To avoid this, learn all there is to know about the importance of a healthy diet for your chickens and how to maintain one.

Do You Need To Customize Your Chicken Flock Diet?

Simply put, every farmer or chicken owner will need to customize the diet their flock receives on a regular basis. Although this basis will not be there from day to day, you may be asked to change the feeding levels your flock receives every few months. This is due to the fact that there are several factors that may change depending on the chickens you have, the age of those chickens, and more that will determine the level of nutrients they need.

What Makes Chickens the Primary Nutrient?

Although the specific level of nutrients your chickens need will vary, there is a set grouping of nutrients that all chickens will need, including:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Protein
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium along with zinc, manganese, iron, iodine, and more
  • Methionine
  • Lisin
  • Fibers
  • Water

While the specific amounts of each of the above your birds receive will vary, the minerals and nutrients themselves will be constant.

Changing Feed Your Herd Gets With Age: Everything You Need To Know

When considering the best bulk feed for your flock, you will need to vary the amount you use depending on the age of the chickens in your flock as well as their purpose. For example, a broiler (meat bird) and a young hen used to lay eggs will require different levels of the above nutrients.

To understand how you need to feed your flock to ensure the longevity of each chicken, let’s break down the nutritional requirements based on the type of chicken:

Meat Bird

For chickens in your flock that are intended to be used as meat, you will want to start them on a heavy protein diet during the first few weeks of their lives. Specifically, a diet of around 22% protein is recommended for starter birds between one and three weeks of age. In addition, 0.5% methionine and 1.3% lysine are also recommended. Regarding additional minerals at this age, a ratio of 0.95% calcium and 0.45% phosphorus will be best for the chicken. This should be combined with 5% fats and 2.5% fibers for best effect.

As the chickens begin to age between four and six weeks, you will cut back a little on everything except the fats. Protein should be reduced to close to 20%, methionine should be brought back to 0.45%, lysine should be reduced to 1.15%, calcium should be reduced to 0.90%, and phosphorus should be reduced to 0.40%. Fiber will remain constant, but fat will increase to 5.5% of the flock’s daily intake.

For the finisher, when your flock reaches over seven weeks of age, everything except fats and methionine will be further cut down. It is recommended to reduce protein to 18%, lysine to 0.95%, calcium to 0.85%, and phosphorus to 0.35%. Fiber will remain constant, but fats and methionine will increase to 6% and 0.5% respectively.

Young Hen

For a bird growing up to lay eggs, the nutrient intake will vary considerably compared to the above. Specifically, starter chickens between one and six weeks of age should receive 20% protein in their diet, 0.45% methionine, 1.10% lysine, 0.45% phosphorus, 1% calcium, 4% fats, and fibers 3%.

After that, when the hen is a grower between seven and eighteen weeks old, everything will be reduced. Protein will be cut back to 17%, methionine to 0.35%, lysine to 0.80%, calcium to 0.95%, and phosphorus to 0.40%. Both fats and fibers will remain constant at 4% and 3%, respectively. This will then bring the hens into their egg-laying years.

Hen currently laying Eggs

As the above hens begin to lay eggs at nineteen weeks or later, their nutritional requirements will change again. It is recommended that laying hens receive at least 16% protein but no more than 18%. Methionine amounts can be varied based on the age of starter and grower. Lysine will be cut back to a maximum of 0.85%, but calcium will be greatly increased to a maximum of 4.5%. Phosphorus, fats and fibers will remain historically constant.

As can be seen from the above, the needs of your herd will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Beyond all the nutritional tips above, it can be beneficial to learn some general tips on how to manage the health of your herd.

Tips for Managing the Health of Your Herd

To keep your chickens safe and healthy, use some of the following tips:

  • Make sure you research the nutritional and care requirements for the specific types of chickens in your care
  • Contact experts in the field who can guide you in caring for your chickens
  • Set a budget for chicken feed expenditure
  • Try different types of feed if your chickens refuse a certain type

Grow a healthy flock of chickens

No farmer should neglect the health of his flock to ensure that the product or quality of life for his chickens is excellent. Even if you only have chickens as pets, it is important to understand how they need to be fed as they grow to give them the best chance to survive and grow healthy. Never neglect your flock as they begin to grow and always be sure to provide them with the most nutrition possible.

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