Advanced Chick Nutrition: The Secret to Great Laying Hens

by Jennifer Murtoff, Home to Roost LLC

Young girl holding pullet in her arm and feed in her hand
Quality early nutrition as they are growing helps your chickens perform their best.

You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Nutrition matters when it comes to human, kids and adults alike. Quality food is important for our growth and health. The same goes for chickens. Your birds put a lot of energy into creating tasty, nutritious eggs for you, and their food affects egg quality, size, and nutrients. Similar to human children, the right nutrition for baby chicks helps set a solid foundation for your adult laying hens.

Chick Feed with Advanced Nutrition Yields More Productive Hens

What’s in a chick feed, and how does that feed’s quality affect your adult birds? There are a lot of chick feeds out there at different price points, but they are not created equal. A lower-cost feed might seem to be a better value, but your chickens will ultimately be healthier if they start life on a nutritionally advanced chick diet. Not only will they thrive as chicks, but as adults they will lay higher-quality eggs in a shorter span of time. In short, chick feed with exceptional nutrition will cost less when you look at the end result: healthier birds and better eggs.

At Nutrena we believe what’s inside counts: quality ingredients mean healthier, happier birds. We formulated our NatureWise® line of feeds with the best ingredients in balanced proportions.

Our customers from across the United States provided rave reviews of our NatureWise® Poultry Feeds with FlockShield™:


My flock loves it! My chicks just started laying, and their eggs speak for themselves!
—Temecula, CA


Two weeks ago I started my new chicks on this feed and have noticed how happy, healthy, and perky they are. No instances of sick chicks or poopy butts. So thankful!
Madison, WI


I recently switched to feeding exclusively Nutrena to my whole flock, including this chick starter. I’ve noticed my chicks are much more active, almost never have pasty butts, and are looking so good this year!
—Montello, WI


We switched over to this feed about a month ago. We are now huge fans of Nutrena. I have seen a tremendous difference in egg production and overall health in my chickens. My ladies run to the feeder every time! Of course, I can’t forget, their plumage looks amazing! If you have been on the fence, try this feed out. You will not be disappointed.

Here is a 2.5-week comparison:

—Greenville, SC


I started feeding my girls this 2 weeks ago, and their egg production has been amazing. I was getting only 3 to 4 eggs a day from my 8 girls, and now I’m getting 8 eggs a day. A few even have had double yolks. They have had nice, hard shells and weight to them as well.
— Northern WI


Since switching to Nutrena NatureWise® feed, our girls haven’t had any more problems with soft-shelled or shell-less eggs. My girls love the soy-free Hearty Hen. I appreciate the soy-free option as I have a soy food sensitivity. I’ve also noticed that the yolks are stronger and darker as well. We love golden yolks here.
—No location given


See more customer reviews here.


The Scientific Proof

But how do we know pullets started on chick starters with advanced nutrition experience higher egg production? We put our feed to the test using a scientific experiment.

We observed 84 Speckled Sussex pullet chicks from the same hatchery. The birds had been started under identical conditions on two brands of feed at our Cargill Innovation Campus in Elk River, Minnesota. We divided the 84 birds into two groups of 42 birds each. Group 1 had been fed NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower, and Group 2 had been started on a leading national brand of chick starter/grower.

When the birds were 18 weeks old, they were transported to a farm in Wisconsin for an in-field trial. The birds were placed in identical controlled environments (housing, lighting, and amounts of food and water). At the farm, all of the hens were fed NatureWise® 16% Layer feed. Once they started laying, we observed them for 14 weeks.

Eggs Laid Between 1 and 14 Weeks

Birds from both Groups 1 and 2 started to lay six weeks after arrival at the facility, at 24 weeks of age, which is typical for Speckled Sussex. Then the remarkable results came in. Over the next 14 weeks, the 42 birds that had been started on NatureWise® Chick Starter Grower laid more than twice as many eggs as the birds fed the national competitor, 499 to 205!

On average, the NatureWise® hens produced 34.3 eggs per week compared to 11.6 eggs per week for the national competitor, and the eggs laid by the NatureWise® hens were larger and had stronger shells. In addition, fewer birds died in the NatureWise® group. The farm’s owners also noted the birds in Group 1 laid more eggs and were heavier than those in Group 2. We think you will notice the difference, too!

What’s the Difference?

Why is NatureWise® such a good choice? What’s inside counts, in both the quantity and quality of the ingredients. First, let’s look at typical ingredients that are found in most chick starter/grower feeds.

  • Proteins and amino acids help build body tissues. They also assist with metabolic function, conduct specific biological reactions, build hormones, and coordinate functions of different cells within the body.
  • Carbohydrates power cellular activity. They are the body’s preferred source of energy. They make up the largest percentage of a chicken’s diet and come mostly from grains.
  • Vitamins and minerals perform many functions in the body: they encourage healthy growth, create strong bones, and form blood cells. They also support energy use and muscle function.

The quantity of the ingredients affects the health and growth of your chicks. For example, too much calcium can damage your chicks’ kidneys, and too little protein can cause them to process feed inefficiently.

Feed quality is also important: the quality of the all the ingredients—the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates—matters. NatureWise®’s high-quality ingredients make a difference!

Finally, the kind of ingredients is key. Some premium feeds contain extra ingredients that provide supportive nutrition for your birds, such as pre- and probiotics, yeast culture, and essential oils. These extra ingredients boost the immune system, support healthy growth, promote optimal digestion, and cut down on odor in droppings. Our NatureWise® products contain a proprietary blend of these additional ingredients called FlockShield.

Our team at Nutrena has worked hard to create a chick starter/grower feed that improves the health and well-being of poultry, and the results from our study demonstrate in scientific terms how these efforts have paid off in the overall health, vitality, and productivity of the birds.

In addition, better performance equals better value, and you can calculate the savings! Over the 18 weeks of the initial chick study, NatureWise® Starter Grower provided better results than the national premium competitor and cost $1.35 per bird less to feed the chicks over the 18-week period.

Now you can give your birds an exceptional start for less money, providing them with an affordable diet that will support them from chick to adult. They will live their best lives and produce an abundance of the eggs you love!

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