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Monday, 4 January 2016

Poultry Farming ( Daily Feeding Requirement of Pullet / Chicken at Different Age)

Many people are enthusiastic and excited about poultry(chicken) farming but majority of starters do it with much ignorance of the basic details. I tour 24 different new farms last month and almost all the farms are not doing the right thing, Like i do say, it’s one thing to start a chicken farm and its another thing to start a business out of it. Many people especially Nigerians going into poultry farming nowadays are ignorant of how to feed and take care of the birds... In  this post, i will be discussing one of the major errors in the business which many are ignorant of and which eventually spoils their poultry business.

Chickens at different stages of development require different feed formulations. Commercially prepared rations are a nutritionally balanced food source; poultry nutritionists formulate feed to ensure that chickens get all the nutrition they need daily, therefore, anything that is added to the diet dilutes the nutrient balance they should be getting daily.

I strongly caution against dabbling in assembling homemade feed blends. Imprecise calculations and the wrong ingredients can affect growth in young chickens, egg production in layers and result in negative, long-term health consequences. "Mixing rations is the most complex aspect of poultry management and isn't something you should undertake if you're just starting out, Ration formulation requires:

  •     Availability of appropriate feed stuffs
  •     Analysis of feed stuff composition
  •     Knowledge of the nutritional needs of chickens
  •     Ability to mix feed in quantity your flock will use within four weeks.

"The adventure of homemade chicken feed mixing isn't for the casual flock keeper, though. You need a solid knowledge of poultry nutrition to balance a ration properly and avoid nutritional deficiencies. Feeding unconventional feed ingredients does carry some risk because unexpected problems may happen, such as digestive upset, toxicities, or spoilage.

The following is intended as a general guideline for feeding commercial ration to laying breeds. The availability of certain feed varies by geographic location, therefore, the manufacturer's recommendations should always be followed.

Before i give you guys my guideline for feeding commercial ration to laying breeds, let me first give you the daily feed requirement of growing pullets of different ages.

STARTER FEED, Day 1 to 8 weeks (Chicks)

Day-old chicks through 8 weeks old require starter feed, aka starter crumbles, containing 20% protein. Starter feed contains the highest percentage of protein a layer will ever consume, which makes sense given their astronomical rate of growth in the first few months of life.

Starter feed can be purchased in both medicated and unmediated varieties. Medicated feed contains amprolium, which protects chicks from the progression of coccidiosis, a common and deadly intestinal disease that is spread in fecal matter. Chicks that have received the coccidiosis vaccine should not be fed medicated starter, as the amprolium will render the vaccine useless and the chicks vulnerable to the disease. When purchasing 'vaccinated' chicks, it's important to know which vaccines they received.

I no longer give my baby chicks medicated feed after having learned that it is unnecessary when chicks are being kept in clean, dry, spacious conditions. When conditions become overcrowded, filthy, wet and warm from the heat source, coccidiosis can thrive with deadly consequences. These types of unhealthy conditions are significantly less likely to occur with pet chickens than they are with commercial poultry operations. Chickens build up a natural immunity to the organisms that cause coccidiosis with or without medicated starter. Allowing chicks to build up an immunity in clean, dry conditions will serve them well when they are ready to head out to the big kid coop.

GROWER FEED, 8 weeks to 18 weeks (Teenagers)

Grower feed have higher proteins and With its higher protein content, starter ration can rush a young pullet's developing body into egg-laying before it's ready. Adolescent chickens (I call them teenagers) should be provided with grower ration containing 16-18% protein, slightly less than starter.

 LAYER FEED, 18 weeks and older (The Big Girls)

Layer feed is available in mash, crumble or pellet forms, all of which describe the size of the feed. Mash is the smallest, and pellets the largest. Layer feed should not be fed to chickens younger than 18 weeks unless they have begun egg-laying because it contains calcium that can permanently damage the kidneys, cause kidney stones, reduce lifetime egg production and shorten a bird's lifespan.

Layer feed contains 16-18% protein and has added calcium, which is necessary for eggshell production.  Laying hens can be fed layer ration as early as 18 weeks or as late as the arrival of their first egg, but should not be fed to birds younger than 18 weeks old. While layer feed contains some calcium, an additional source of calcium such as crushed oyster shells should be made available to laying hens in a separate dish, apart from the feed, NOT in the feed.

 I personally categories Layer Feed into three and they are:


PRE-LAYER MASH: Pre-layer mash is commonly used between 16 to 18 weeks. The purpose of pre-layer feed is to increase the calcium levels in the diet above the level fed in the grower peroid to provide calcium reserve for the initiation of eggshell formation. It is also used to stimulate the nutrient intake of protein and energy for pullets that are lower in body weight than standard body weights for the strain and season.
 Pre-layer mash prepares hens to move smoothly from growing to laying phase.

LAYER MASH: Feeding the laying bird is only a continuation of feeding the growing pullet by supplying the necessary ingredients in the correct proportions so that bird can produce an abundant number of eggs. Layer mash product is a well balanced ration in digestible protein, energy, vitamins and minerals as well as essential amino-acids.
Layer mash is recommended from 19 to 33 weeks...

LAYER (PHASE 2) MASH: As the hen ages, the thickness of the egg shell usually declines. moreover, the mobilization of calcium decreases to less than 50% after 40 weeks of age. Layer (phase 2) is perfectly adequate for hens in full production starting from 34 weeks until the end of lay. Layer (phase 2) is a continuity of layer mash and mainly designed for farmers who are looking to optimize their resources.


While layer feed contains some calcium, an additional source of calcium such as crushed oyster shells should be made available to laying hens in a separate dish, apart from the feed, NOT in the feed. All laying hens have different calcium requirements and will consume as much calcium as they need. Adding clean, dried eggshells to the oyster shell dish is fine, but eggshells alone are not an adequate calcium source for laying.

Oyster shells should not be added directly to feed because excess calcium can be detrimental chickens.
Hens deprived of adequate amounts of calcium will utilize the calcium stored within their own bones to produce eggshells, which is unhealthy for them.


Chicken scratch is NOT chicken feed. The contents of scratch varies by country and region, but it consists primarily of cracked corn and any number of other grains. It's a source of energy (think: carbs) but is not a good source of vitamins, minerals or protein. "Scratch should be fed sparingly, if at all." 2 In cold weather, chickens expend extra energy to keep warm and a small amount of scratch just before dusk is a decent source of energy at that time of year, but too much can contribute to obesity and obesity-related deaths. Brooding hens will also benefit from the extra calories in scratch.


Given the power and force of chicken math, chickens of mixed age groups often occupy the same living space at any given time, which raises the question of how to feed each properly. This situation isn't ideal, but it's not unique either.  Providing unmediated starter/grower to a flock of mixed age birds with calcium available free-choice (in a separate dish) is the best solution. The additional protein in the starter/grower ration won't hurt the older birds, but the calcium in layer feed can damage the kidneys of growing birds.
A free-feed dining option is the most common in backyard flocks, one in which chickens eat in small increments at their leisure throughout the day.

I hope with my little write up here, you will be able to know how to feed chicks / chicken correctly and with the best kind of feed..

My next article is going to be on Vaccination Programs in Poultry... Stay tune.

                                              What Next...

If you will be going in for Poultry Farming, You need addition resources to make your poultry business a successful one. Join other poultry farmers who have made our Poultry Farming eBook their companion towards starting their poultry farms and managing it effectively. 

You aren't yet serious in your poultry business until you get this eBook. And the best part is that it contains complete Poultry Business Plan. Click Here to get the poultry farming eBook

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  1. Thank you so much for this great information.. I have been looking for this for a while now... I really appreciate this and i pray that God will continue to bless and increase you... I will like to get your poultry ebook...

  2. Thank you for this article..I love this... Keep the good work up... More grace to your elbow..


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