An advantage of keeping hens and other poultry free range is that they have plenty of room to scratch about looking for food. Insects, seeds, and young green shoots will all contribute towards a healthy diet, but to ensure that the bird receives everything it needs, then additional feed will be required. For poultry that are not kept on a free range basis, a balanced feed is necessary to provide them with the nutrients needed for maintenance, growth or egg production.
Whilst it is certainly possible to feed poultry a diet consisting entirely of wheat or mixed corn, this will not provide birds with all the essential nutrients in the correct balance to suit the bird’s particular stage of life. The advantage of feeding a complete or compound feed is that all the work of calculating the best combination of quality ingredients to provide a natural, healthy diet which fulfils the bird’s nutritional requirements has been done for you. For the poultry keeper this means that you can feed your birds confidently, in the knowledge that you will be providing them with everything necessary for a healthy and productive life, but in a form which is convenient and easy to use. These feeds are readily available to suit chicks, growing birds, breeding birds and layers, and depending on the purpose may be available as crumbs, pellets or meal.
Young chicks should be fed as soon as possible to avoid the risk of starvation. Allen & Page Baby Chick Crumbs provide a drug-free (no coccidiostat) starter which can be fed from hatching through to six or eight weeks old on an ad lib basis. As always with young birds, hygiene and good management practice is of the greatest importance. This need is particularly important with a natural or organic feed where drugs are not included to compensate for errors. Feed is best given in small bowls to encourage chicks to feed, and fresh water should be available at all times.
To encourage a smooth changeover to pelleted feed, it is best to start mixing Baby Chick Crumbs with Poultry Grower Pellets from five-six weeks. They may also be fed to appetite. Restrict feed if controlled growth rate is required. Poultry Grower may be fed right up to finishing weight and will provide a good rate of growth.
If keeping ornamental poultry for showing or pleasure, then Ornamental Poultry Pellets can be fed to help boost overall condition and particularly plumage colour and sheen. They are a high quality feed suitable for either poultry or waterfowl, including bantams, game birds, ornamental ducks, guineafowl, peafowl and ornamental quail.
For further information or if you have any queries about feeding your poultry, then please contact our helpful and friendly team on the Smallholder Nutritional Helpline on 01362 822902