This article is part of a series on how to welcome baby chicks and provide them with the best housing, feed, living conditions…we also try our best to answer your most frequently asked questions.
Feeding your baby chicks
After the first 24/36 hours, the little ones will need to feed and drink. Make sure you have everything you need when the time comes.
Unless you are fast-raising your chickens in order to eat them, I would recommend giving your chicks the most natural and healthy feed possible. Manufactured feed can contain growth hormones and other things that will not benefit your chicks.
You can do a little experience, leave two feeding plates available for your chickens, one with manufactured poultry feed and the other one with natural grain. All your chickens will eventually prefer the most natural option.
Baby chicks need food they can easily eat with their little beaks and small organs.
A hen will always chose small pieces of food for her chick or break it into pieces.
We use a small grain crusher to reduce the size of the grain for chicks : wheat, barley, oats, peas, maize, sunflower. After being crushed, you get a mix between thick flour and small bits of grain. Depending on the age and size of the chicks, they can all find something they can easily eat !
If you don’t have a crusher and only need small quantities of feed, you can use a powerful blender.
No need to prepare the feed in advance because the vitamins and minerals contained in the grain will only be active for 3 days !
If you buy ready-crushed grain, don’t forget to give the right vitamins to your chicks.
(Photo : Crushed grain for baby chicks. Légende : Plate of crushed grain for our chicks )
Chickens are omnivores and don’t feed exclusively on grain. They need other nutrients.
Think about a hen walking around with her chicks : she doesn’t only eat grain but will always be scratching around looking for insects, worms, grass and even fruit or vegetables avalaible to her.
I like to prepare homemade chick feed or mash, they love it ! Packed with greens and animal proteins, you can always change the ingredients, they love to discover new tastes.
=> Look at the basic recipe for homemade baby chick feed
Small noodles, rice, or wheat semolina, everything nicely cooked before giving it to them.
We sometimes add spirulina, crushed egg shells (or crushed oyster shells), brewer’s yeast, frozen fresh pollen, dryed insects or shrimp, they all love it !
Don’t forget to provide a plate of grit or sand, absolutely necessary for their gizzard to get its job done !
Just as Mama hen would show her chicks how to drink by calling them…
You might have to do the same and show your chicks how to drink from any chosen watering device.
We usually use a vitamin supplement during the first few weeks of life and I frequently add grapefruit seed extract or propolis to boost their immune system.
I use a sort of chicken drinking fountain that frees some space in the brooder and keeps water clean and fresh throughout the day 🙂
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