Feeding Guide from Hatch to Feather

Feeding Guide from Hatch to Feather

Raising egg-laying chicks is an exciting journey filled with the promise of fresh eggs and the satisfaction of nurturing new life. However, providing proper nutrition is crucial for their growth, development, and future egg production. From the moment they hatch to their molting stages, what you feed your chicks plays a vital role in their health and productivity. In this guide, we'll explore the nutritional needs of egg-laying chicks from day one through laying stages and molting, ensuring they thrive every step of the way.

Day One to First Lay: Essential Building Blocks During the first few weeks of life, chicks require a diet rich in essential nutrients to support their rapid growth and development. Here's what to feed them:

  • Starter Feed: Begin with a high-quality chick starter feed containing around 18-22% protein. This feed provides essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals necessary for healthy bone and muscle development. We recommend Purina Start & Grow or Hawaiian Grain Chick Starter medicated crumbles for the first 6 months or until their first egg lay.  These low-dose amprolium feeds protect them from coccidiosis during their most susceptible early months, and has no withdrawal time.  Use chick grit to aid in digestion if feeding anything other than chick crumbles.  Other options we suggest are Purina Organic Starter/Grower, Purina Flock Raiser crumble, or Triple Duty as a non-medicated option (although the 15% protein is lower than recommended). 

First Lay and Beyond: Around 24 weeks of age, your chicks will reach the point of lay. At this stage, it's time to transition them to a layer feed specifically formulated for egg production:

  • Layer Feed: Switch to a layer feed containing around 16-18% protein and increased levels of calcium (3.5-4%). This feed provides the necessary nutrients for eggshell formation and overall reproductive health.  We recommend Purina Layena feeds, Hawaiian Grain Lay Pellets, Purina Organic Laying Crumble or Pellets or HenUp Organic Laying Pellets.
  • Greens and Treats: Introduce small amounts of fresh greens, fruits, vegetables, mealworms or scratch grains as treats. These provide additional nutrients and help diversify their diet.  Scratch grains and treats should be fed in moderation, no more than 10% of their diet.
  • Calcium Supplements: Ensure a supplemental source of calcium is always available, such as oyster shells, to prevent calcium deficiency and promote strong eggshells.  Supplemental calcium may be necessary if feeding treats, greens or other food in addition to a layer feed.
  • Grit:  Offer it free-choice in a separate container.

Molting Period (Around 18 months): During a molting period, chickens shed old feathers and grow new ones.  Their nutritional requirements change and they should transition to a higher protein diet (around 18-20%) to support feather regrowth and overall health.  At this time, your hens may have inconsistent egg production producing few to no eggs for about 2-4 months.

  • A quality, high protein food will help your hen during the feather loss and a pause in egg production. Methionine is very important during this time.  We recommend Purina Flock Raiser crumble or pellets, NatureWise All Flock, or NatureWise Feather Fixer.

Proper nutrition is essential for the health, growth, and productivity of egg-laying chicks throughout their life stages. From day one through laying and molting, providing a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals ensures they thrive and continue to produce delicious eggs. By understanding their nutritional needs and providing appropriate feed and supplements, you'll set your chicks up for a lifetime of health and productivity.

If you have any questions or would like a customized solution, please stop by and talk to one of our knowledgeable associates. 

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