Chicken food typically consists of grains, proteins and vitamins. Carbohydrates provide energy while fats boost their ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Protein can come from both plant-based ingredients (legumes, oilseeds and protein meals) as well as animal sources (fish meal and bone meal). Commercial feeds also typically include vitamins and minerals.
Protein is a cornerstone of chicken feed and provides essential building blocks for all essential vitamins and minerals. Not all proteins are created equal as each has their own amino acid profile, so providing your chickens with access to different sources of proteins is necessary for optimal health and disease prevention.
Complete laying feeds typically contain around 16% protein, making it the perfect way to support healthy hens during molting season and help replenish their feathers with newer, stronger ones that look vibrant.
Poultry feed contains many high-protein ingredients, including roasted soybeans (30.8% protein content), crimped oats (10.9%), wheat middlings or kamut (18% protein content), as well as feed grade limestone or aragonite or ground oyster shell as sources of calcium for your flock. All these sources of protein provide essential sources of nutrition.
Fats and Oils
Chickens need fats and oils in their feed for energy and to ensure proper egg production as well as absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Lipids are typically added from both vegetable and animal sources for optimal performance.
Vegetable lipids come from canola or rapeseed oils and cottonseed meal, along with sunflower oil which offers essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Lipid sources in chicken feed typically come from animal proteins like fish meal or poultry meal that cannot be easily found elsewhere, providing additional protein sources and essential fatty acids not easily available from plants alone.
There are four different forms of poultry feed: mash, pellets, crumble and whole grains. Whole grain feed contains unprocessed materials like cracked corn, oats, barley and wheat middlings and should be an ideal choice for new chicks whose digestive systems and beaks may not yet be capable of handling larger items; additionally this kind of diet encourages natural pecking behavior among chicks.
Vitamins are essential nutrients for poultry, especially during periods of confinement such as winter or molting, when stress levels rise significantly and they cannot rely on foraging for greens and bugs for sustenance themselves. Vitamin supplements should always be given, though, since free-ranging poultry aren’t as likely to need their supplements when not allowed access to free range environments where these creatures would naturally find nourishment on their own.
There are various methods to add vitamin supplements to chicken feed. Pellets can easily be mixed in with their feed and distributed among the flock, but if the chickens don’t like them they may ignore them and not reap all their benefits. Powdered supplements may dissolve well in water but sometimes don’t get consumed by their target audience enough or simply don’t mix with water well enough. Liquid supplements offer even greater vitamin boost than pellet supplements!
Rooster Booster is an all-ages mineral and vitamin supplement, featuring vitamins (B12 and D3), minerals (calcium and magnesium), amino acids and electrolytes to rehydrate birds during summer heat waves.
Additives and Supplements
Additives used in chicken feed include acids to lower its pH level, gut and microbial cytoplasm which inhibits pathogenic bacteria while improving feed efficiency and nutrient absorption, enzymes, flavor enhancers, antioxidants, antimicrobials, and binders.
Fats and oils are included in chicken feed for energy. Furthermore, chickens require vitamins and minerals for health reasons and laying potential. Premixes that include these essential elements such as Lysine Methionine DCP Calcium are available.
Oats, wheat and maize provide the optimal source of protein in chicken feed, providing essential amino acids, essential vitamins and minerals, plant-based fibre that aids digestion as poultry lack teeth, calcium supplements to ensure absorption of nutrients through diet as well as grit, an aid available in different sizes to support digestive processes in birds of different ages and an ingredient called “grit” which aids with food digestion.