Different Types of Poultry Feeds

poultry birds feeds

The poultry feeds that birds eat largely depend on the type of birds you are raising and for what purpose the birds are being raised which is why the poultry feeds are classified according to the different type of birds we have and their purpose of production below.

Broilers feeds are divided into two which are Broilers Starter Mash which are being given to the birds from the Day 1 and Broilers Finisher Mash which are being given to the birds when they must have come of age.

Cockerel’s feeds are also divided into two which are the Chicks mash which is given to the birds from the beginning and the Growers mash which are being given to the birds after some time.

Layers feed is divided into three which are the Chicks Mash which are given to the birds from the beginning, the Growers Mash which are given to the birds when they must have come of age and the Layers Mash which are being given to the birds when they must have started Laying eggs.

Read Also: Poultry Housing Management: Poultry Pen/House Construction Guide

Types of Chicken / Poultry Feeds

The correct type of poultry feed for your chickens depends on two things: their age and whether they are meat birds or laying birds.

1) Feed for Broilers

Broiler Starter: This is high in protein and energy and is given from day old until 4-6 weeks old.

Broiler Finisher: This has a lower protein and energy content than starter. It is given from about 4-6 weeks until target weight is attained.

2) Feed for Laying Birds

Starter: Layers can be given broiler starter in their chick stage. This is given for the first 8 weeks. They can also be given chick mash.

Grower Feed: After chick starter, young pullets that are destined for a laying flock are put on a lower-protein diet to slow growth to allow strong bones and adult body weight before laying begins.

If the protein is too high, development happens quickly and the birds lay too early. Grower pullet rations typically have 18 percent protein and are fed until the chicks are 14 weeks of age.

Layers Feed: It is introduced when 5-10% of the birds start laying and it is given until the birds are sold. Laying hens at maturity (around 22 weeks of age) require a 16 to 18 percent protein level and extra calcium and minerals for strong eggshells.

Don’t feed layer rations to birds younger than this age as it damages their kidneys due to the high amounts of calcium and phosphorus. However, roosters can eat laying rations.

3) Feed for Cockerels

Chick Starter: Exactly what it sounds like, chick starter is for the first (usually six) weeks of your baby chicks’ lives. This is typically 22 to 24 percent protein for meat birds (called broiler starter) and 20 percent protein for laying breeds.

Growers Mash: After chick starter, young pullets that are destined for a laying flock are put on a lower-protein diet to slow growth to allow strong bones and adult body weight before laying begins.

If the protein is too high, development happens quickly and the birds lay too early. Grower pullet rations typically have 18 percent protein and are fed until the chicks are 14 weeks of age.

Read Also: Weighing birds a key monitoring tool in poultry

poultry feeds

In Summary about Poultry Feeds and when to Use them:

1) Starter Chicken Feed

Starter poultry feeds are a protein dense variety of chicken feed designed to meet the dietary requirements of baby chicks. Generally speaking baby chicks can live comfortably on a diet of starter feed and water for the first 6 weeks of their life before progressing onto grower feed.

The high protein content, usually between 20-24%, helps young chicks grow into playful pullets, however it’s imperative that you phase out the starter feed once they are 6 weeks old, otherwise the excess protein can cause liver damage.

To complicate matters, there are varieties of feed known as starter/grower feed, which is essentially a type of feed that chickens can eat from 1-20 weeks of age. But always read the label and consult the nearest poultry guru if you have any doubts.

2) Grower Chicken Feed

Grower poultry feeds in many ways are like chicken feed for teenage chooks. The dietary requirements for a chicken between 6 to 20 weeks old is very different from a baby chick. Essentially grower feed contains a protein content that is between 16-18% but has less calcium than regular layer feed.

In an egg shell, grower feed supports the continuing growth of your teenage chookies without bombarding them with unnecessary vitamins and minerals that are more suited for fully grown laying hens. Once your girls start laying eggs that’s a good sign that they are ready for layer feed.

3) Layer Chicken Feed

For most of your flock’s life their diet will predominantly consist of scrumptious layer feed. Layer feed has an ingenious balance of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals that encourages top tier egg laying abilities in your flock.

Protein wise layer feed contains similar levels of protein to grower feed, around 16-18%, however has extra calcium to ensure that their eggshells are crisp, clean and crunchy.

Feeding layer feed to baby chicks or young pullets however will not meet their unique dietary requirements. Layer feed should only be fed to chickens around 20 weeks of age or once they have started to lay eggs.

Related: 12 MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR BETTER POULTRY PERFORMANCE POTENTIAL

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