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Poultry Feeds & Nutrition

Feeding Schedules for Chickens

Poultry feeds are referred to as "complete" feeds, because they are designed to contain all the protein, energy, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients necessary for proper growth, egg production, and health of the birds. Feeding any other ingredients, mixed with the feed or fed separately, upsets the balance of nutrients in the "complete" feed. Feeding additional grain or supplement with the complete poultry feed is not recommended.

Feed chicks a "starter" diet soon after they hatch. Continue feeding the starter feed until they reach 6 or 8 weeks of age. The starter diet has the highest level of protein a chicken receives during its lifetime. As the chick matures, it requires a lower percentage of dietary protein and a higher level of energy.

After the chicks reach 6 or 8 weeks of age, feed them a "finisher" diet (to broilers) or a "developer" diet (to pullets or cockerels saved for breeding purposes). Feed broilers a finisher diet until they reach slaughter size. Feed the pullets and cockerels a developer until they are at least 20 weeks of age. When egg production starts, feed them a "layer" ration until egg production ends.

The minimum requirements for protein, calcium, and phosphorus in poultry feeds are shown. Remember, chickens saved for egg production are fed pullet-type diets, not broiler diets, regardless of being from broiler or egg-type stock.

Minimum
requirements
Protein
%
Calcium
%
Phosphorus
%
Broilers
Starter (0-6 weeks) 23 0.9 0.5
Finisher (6 weeks to market) 10 0.8 0.5
Pullets
Starter (0-8 weeks) 20 0.9 0.5
Developer (8 to 20 weeks) 14 0.8 0.5
Laying Hens
Layer 16 3.0 0.5