I will be receiving my shipment of eight chicks during the week of June 3. They will be day old chicks. Now my question is, what do I feed them and how much? I see chick food from Tractor Supply, but I'm not sure if this is what I want. How long should I feed them this?
I would like to go as natural as possible. any guidance is always greatly appreciated.
If they are a laying breed, you can get chick starter. Chick grower is usually used when they get a bit bigger, but would probably work fine. Especially if you drop in a few worms every day for protein. If they are Cornish X meat chickens, a higher protein feed is recommended. Don't feed laying mash until they get close to laying age.
Most chick feed is medicated. I prefer unmedicated and put in a bit of forest topsoil/leaves for them to pick through to build their resistance and teach them to forage.
A single 40 or 50 lb bag would last for several weeks I suppose. I wouldn't suggest buying more than that. A smaller five or ten pound bag would be fine if you have easy access.
When the chicks first arrive, I feed them crushed hard-boiled eggs mixed with clipped fresh greens (dandilion, comfrey, whatever is available), just for their first feeding.
Then I use the standard, non-medicated 'Chick Starter' for the first 3 weeks. I supplement this with all-you-can-eat fresh clipped greens. Dried kelp is also good in small amounts.
From 3 weeks on, the birds (meat birds or future layers) get noting but whole grain wheat, a little cracked corn, unlimited skim milk/curds, and free-range all day. Milk+wheat+pasture is a perfect diet.
The commercial chicken mash is gross to me, but I have found that it really gets the birds off to a good start. Their needs are so critical in the first weeks that it isnt worth compromising their health.
But once they are off to a good start, whole grains and excellent quality range forage raises good healthy birds. I figure I have about $3 in feed cost in each bird at maturity at 6 months of age. Mortality is usually around 5% from start to finish.
I have a local supplier of non-GMO high protein mash that I feed until they feather up. Then I add sprouted grains. I keep mash in the feeder, but the Buckeyes don't eat very much of it once they are free ranging and getting sprouts. The Cornish cross get their food taken out at night or they will try to nest in it.
I also put a bit of applecider vinegar in their water, and give them a good grit with a bit of minerals. Oh, and lots of garden scraps.
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