Chickens that are to be grown for egg production need chicken starter crumbles or mash from one day old to about six weeks. The diet should contain 18%–20% crude protein and a coccidiostat (to prevent the disease coccidiosis) if the chickens are to be reared on the floor.
For small flocks from 6–18 weeks of age, growers’ pellets or crumbles (15%–16% protein) are generally used. Birds should have unrestricted access to food and water. At 18 weeks the pullets should be fed a laying diet, which should be available at all times. It can be supplemented with scratch grain and kitchen scraps.
From one day until 18 weeks of age, a pullet will eat about 1.5 kg of starter diet and 7 kg of grower diet. During the laying period, each hen will eat up to 1 kg of feed a week.
The brooding and feeding systems described above are generally suitable for small numbers of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.
Diets containing anti-coccidial compounds are recommended only for chickens, and should not be routinely fed to laying hens. Commercial poultry farms use diets that have been formulated for particular breeds or strains of poultry. These diets are available for small flocks, but generally have to be specially ordered from local feed suppliers.
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