Feeding Grit and Oyster Shell to Chickens

In every feed store, you’ll find bags of grit and oyster shell near the chicken feed. Why is that, and what exactly do chickens need them for? Learn from Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart what the benefits of them are, and how you should feed them to your flock.

 

Helpful tips:

  • Oyster shell and grit are not interchangeable
  • Oyster shell supplements the calcium in chicken feed
  • Grit aids in digestion of grain, plant materials, bugs, etc.  – when in doubt, put it out!

 

Raising Meat Birds

Interested in raising chickens or other poultry species for meat? It’s a different game than raising laying hens. Listen in as Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart shares valuable advice on getting started in the meatbird world.

 

Helpful tips:

  • Cornish Crosses are the best bird to raise for meat
  • Separate them from other breeds
  • Restrict their diet to feed 12 hours on, 12 hours off
  • Feed a specialized meat bird diet that is higher in protein

 

Feeding Chicks and Layers Together

Bringing baby chicks home to add to your existing flock? Check out this video from Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart for tips on feeding the entire flock properly through this transition.

 

Helpful tips:

  • Feed baby chicks, or juveniles, chick starter crumble until they are 16 weeks of age
  • Have oyster shell available for adult females as crumble feed have very little calcium

 

Keeping Chicken Feed Fresh

A big part of keeping your backyard chickens happy and healthy is providing them high quality chicken feed, like those from Nutrena! But if you don’t store your feed properly, no matter what brand you buy, you can run into trouble. Learn from Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart a few key tips to keeping your feed fresh and your girls happy!

 

Helpful tips:

  • Dump feed in a metal trash can with a lid on it to keep out rodents
  • Save the tag from the feed bag
  • Keep feed in a dry, cool place
  • Buy a little less feed in the summer time, more trips to the feed store

 

Transitioning Chicks from the Brooder to the Coop

If you bought new baby chicks this spring, they might be getting close to ready to go from the brooder to the coop. Learn from Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart how to make the transition a successful one!

 

Helpful tips:

  • Chicks should be fully feathered before transitioning
  • Place chicks in metal dog crate for two weeks before moving to the coop
  • Add water stations in hot weather 
  • Keep chicks on chick starter feed for 16 weeks

 

Feeding Chick Starter

If you are bringing home baby chicks soon, you’ll need to know what to feed, and how to feed it. Listen in as Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart shares tips on properly feeding chicks for a healthy start and a long life.

Helpful tips:

  • Use baby chick starter crumble. Lay crumble calcium content is too high and may damage kidneys of the chicks.
  • Chicks may pick out larger pieces of crumble if they have a hard time eating them.
  • Feed chicks as much as they want as they self-regulate.
  • Medicated chick starter helps to prevent coccidiosis. It is not an antibiotic.

 

Feeding Chickens in Winter

The days are getting shorter, the girls are finishing up their molts, and you are getting less eggs as winter approaches. You might be wondering, “is this normal?” The answer is, yes, it’s perfectly normal.

Chickens need about 16 hours of light per day to produce eggs, with the exception of some over-eager first year hens who may lay throughout winter. But with the shortened daylight hours, and the cold weather requiring more of their energy resources be directed to keeping their body temperatures where the need to be, egg production will go down.

Chicken in the snow

Just because your ladies have slowed down on their egg production, or even stopped, however, doesn’t mean they need less nutrition. Continuing to feed a quality, nutritious, energy-providing diet, just like you would through the warmer months, will help your girls continue some egg production and provide them the energy reserves they require to stay warm and fit. It will also help them show up next spring in prime condition to start laying regularly again.

You may hear some chicken owners say they feed a cheap layer feed, or even nothing but scratch in winter, because it is cheaper and “they aren’t laying anyway”. If you pay attention, these are often the same folks that lose birds in the winter, or their birds look pretty rough come spring time. Scratch grains should never make up more than 10% of any birds diet – or what they can clean up in about 5 minutes.

Don’t forget to provide grit throughout the winter as well, as they may not be able to find it on their own due to snow and mud.