Feeding your chicken
Chickens are omnivores and will eat (or try to eat) just about anything they can get their beaks on! To keep your chickens happy and healthy, it’s important to feed them a wide variety of foods in their daily diet consisting of pellets/grains, shell grit, fruit, vegetables and supplementary foods such as mealworms.
Feed your chickens with dry poultry pellets or crumble as their main diet as this will provide them with the right balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to stay healthy. You can also supplement this with grains and scratch mix which are a tasty treat that can be mixed in with the pellets, but should not be a main part of your chicken’s diet.
Feed can be provided in a feed dispenser or container, and other seeds and grains (such as wheat and corn) could also be scattered in the environment to supplement their diet and encourage natural foraging behaviour.
Feeding for their life stage:
In the same way that it would not be recommended to feed kitten food to senior cats or puppy food to elderly dogs, chickens require different food throughout their lives.
If your chickens have not started laying yet, it’s important to feed them a high-quality diet designed for growing pullets (8 to 18 weeks of age). These diets provide balanced energy, protein and amino acids for good growth, and balanced calcium and phosphorus with Vitamin D for bone development and strength.
If you have small chicks (between 0-8 weeks old), you should feed them a premium Chick Starter crumble that is made with a specific formulation of protein, carbohydrate and fat with added vitamins and minerals. Chick Starter contains all the essential nutrients a chick needs to grow and develop during this period of rapid growth.
Oyster shell grit
Feed your chickens with dry poultry pellets or crumble as their main diet as this will provide them with the right balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to stay healthy.
You can also supplement this with grains and scratch mix which are a tasty treat that can be mixed in with the pellets, but should not be a main part of your chicken’s diet.
In addition to a good quality poultry feed, a variety of fresh raw fruits and veggies, access to worms, insects and plants as well can also be given daily. Examples of raw fruits and vegetables that can be fed include: vegetable peels, bananas, apple, berries, carrot, bok choy, silver beet, spinach, cabbage or broccoli.
As a treat, your chooks will also love cooked rice, pasta, bread and legumes every now and then in small amounts. Dried meal worms are also a wonderful treat option to delight your chickens!
Provide your chickens with access to fresh water at all times. Chickens go through a lot of water, so a normal bowl won’t cut it. Instead, try a poultry gravity drinker.
Tips to remember:
- Any change in your hens’ feeding behaviour or a lack of appetite can also indicate something is wrong. If you notice any changes in your birds feeding behaviour or appetite you should consult a veterinarian.
- Any food found in their coops that is old, mouldy, or stale should be cleaned up and thrown away to prevent rats and mice being attracted into the coop.
- To keep your feathered friends stimulated, provide them with daily enrichment, such as green leafy vegetables (e.g. kale or brussel sprouts) strung up in the coop so the birds can peck at them. Watermelons, food toys, ramps and different levels within the coop, in which your chickens can scratch and peck, are all great ideas for enriching your chicken environment.
If you have any questions about feeding your chickens, alk to your local Animates team member for advice on the best ways to feed your chickens based on the number of chooks in your coop, their age and how often they are fed.
Your local Animates store has a fantastic range of foods and accessories to help keep your feathered friends happy and healthy.