Welcome back to our Conroe Feeders animal supply blog. One of the questions we get quite often is “does the chicken feed really matter?” and our response is always an enthusiastic, and quite incredulous “YES!” Before we go much further here, it is important to note that at Conroe Feeders we believe that the food any animal or human eats matters. Before we jump right into what you should and shouldn’t feed your chickens and why, let’s explore a little more about our statement about all animals’ food mattering.
Animals, including pests and rodents, are all a part of our ecosystem; we are all connected in the circle of life and the food chain. All animals are capable of affecting our health, even if we don’t consume them. What is introduced into our environment, at any level, has the ability to impact us all. Whether the animal is being consumed by humans or other animals, or they die and are absorbed back into the earth, the effects of each being are much more widespread than the quality of an individual life.
A Quick Ecology Lesson
To better understand, let’s break it down quickly. Without getting into the deep weeds of things, there are essentially two types of beings, those who draw their energy and nutrients from sunlight and chemicals — think about plants and plankton — are called autotrophs. Heterotrophs are those who cannot make their own energy and must consume it by eating those who do. Within our ecosystem and food chain are humans, animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Through the water and chemicals used to create energy in the autotrophs that are passed on to the heterotrophs and then left behind when they decay, the circle continues over and over, and any glitch in the process has widespread systemic effects.
How does this all apply to chicken feed?
Chicken feed, like any other animal feed, should meet all of the animal’s basic requirements to support a healthy animal. If you are feeding your chickens dried corn and grain, they are missing out on some essential nutrients that are vital for life. How can we tell this? By the eggs, of course!
Chick eggs tell a lot about the condition of the chicken’s health and the nutrients it is receiving. One of the most common problems are soft, or rubber eggs. These eggs are those that are dropped with either no shell or a very thin shell, and is sometimes just the membrane that typically lines the shell. This can happen for a variety of reasons, all of which indicate poor status. One common reason is fear or stress. Overcrowding or being chased by predators (or free-range children) can cause a hen to drop her eggs before they are ready. A lack of calcium and vitamin D can also cause thin or soft shells in chickens.
What should chickens eat?
Chickens should have a balanced diet that includes a mixture that supports your chicken’s needs. Some important ingredients to consider include:
- Protein meal
- Fats, minerals, and oils
- Base of corn, oats, and grains
- Grit and scratch grains
- Vitamins and electrolytes
- Vegetables or fresh lawn trimmings
- Pullets during growth phases
Chickens should be fed enough to support their needs, which will vary based on the age of the chicken, what phase they are in, and the time of year.
As if there weren’t enough to decide on, you’ll also need to select the type of feed you’ll give your chickens. There is mash, pellets, crumbles, and combination. Research shows that many chickens prefer mash, but many farmers prefer the reduced mess and food waste offered by pellets.
If we can take it back to our food chain, circle of life, conversation for a minute, if you have a ranch full of chickens, the type of feed you choose may include consideration of the other animals who roam. Keep in mind that mice, rats, and insects love to feed on leftover chicken feed. So, be mindful of how much, how often, and what kind of feed you give your chickens to keep the pests at bay.
At Conroe Feeders, we carry a full line of chicken feed. And, since more is known about chicken feed than any other livestock animal feed, we have priceless information to share with you. Our team of experienced feed experts can offer advice and suggestions that suit your unique needs. If you’ve got chickens to feed, stop by Conroe Feeders for your chicken feed today!