- Chicks of all types are fed a ‘starter’ diet soon after they hatch and this has the highest levels of protein the birds need in their lifetime. As they grow, they require less protein and more energy.
- After 6 to 8 weeks of age, a ‘finisher’ diet is fed to broilers until they reach slaughter age. Young broilers require more protein and energy than young layer pullets.
- A ‘grower’ or ‘developer’ feed is fed to pullets (layers) until they are at least 20 weeks old. They require a formulation containing 1% calcium.
- When hens start laying, a ‘layer’ ration is given. This is quite different from other types of ration because it contains relatively more calcium (3.5% calcium).
Note that, because of its high calcium content, layer feed can cause kidney damage in chicks or broilers.
If they are on a commercial ration, chickens can usually be offered as much as they will eat, because they don’t usually take more than they need. However, if a big part of their diet is grain, they can overeat and may become fat.
- its size (the bigger the bird the more food it needs)
- its age and how active it is (growing birds and active birds need more feed)
- its body condition (thin birds need more feed)
- the environmental temperature (free-range birds need more feed in cold weather)
- whether or not it is laying eggs (hens in lay need more feed)
- As a rough guide, laying hens will usually eat about 130 gm of commercial ration each every day.
- Water troughs must be kept clean and water replaced at least once daily.
- The drinking water must not be too warm or too cold.
- Water from puddles is not always safe, since it may be contaminated with engine oil or antifreeze or other pollutants
- When water becomes contaminated with droppings it must be replaced or it will cause diarrhea.
- Stagnant water in troughs and ponds can contain poisonous blue-green algae.
- Free range hens in lay may drink half a litre of water each daily, and even more if it is hot. If they don’t get enough water their egg production will drop and they might even die.
- Fresh clean water is essential for the efficient production of eggs or poultry meat.