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Poultry Feed Options Explained

by | Jun 16, 2020 | Meyer Moment

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about poultry feed. 

As you begin your poultry journey, you may find yourself in the feed aisle overwhelmed by the endless options. Let’s take a moment to breakdown some of the common feed terminology, along with the different stages of feed, throughout the lifespan of your poultry.

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Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery – where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. Each week we like to take a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings. 

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about poultry feed. 

As you begin your poultry journey, you may find yourself in the feed aisle overwhelmed by the endless options. Let’s take a moment to breakdown some of the common feed terminology, along with the different stages of feed, throughout the lifespan of your poultry.

First, let’s start with the highly debated question of Medicated vs Non-Medicated. It’s completely optional which route you’d like to take, but know the only difference between these feeds is that medicated chick feed contains Amprolium for prevention of Coccidiosis. Using medicated feed eliminates the need for the coccidiosis vaccine, as it negates the effect if used together. 

Next up you have Non-GMO Feed. This is a feed mix made from ingredients that are non-GMO, or not genetically modified. It’s offered as non-medicated and is NOT necessarily certified organic by USDA standards.

If you’re looking for Organic Feed, we have that too! This feed has been certified organic according to USDA standards. Meyer Hatchery’s organic feed line is sourced from local Ohio farms. By definition, organic feeds are also GMO-free. 

Lastly, there is Non-Soy Feed, which is a great alternative for anyone who has a soy allergy. Field peas, make for the perfect supplemental protein source, in place of soy, found in most commercial feeds. It’s offered as a layer mash and can be used as a sole ration for your layers.

You may also hear the terms scratch grain or cracked corn, which can be considered a treat or additive to daily feedings, as they do not provide a complete source of nutrition. Provide these to your flock in moderation. 

Now, these are all just terms used to better understand the ingredients within the feed. You’ve also probably heard the terms starter, grower, and layer. This helps designate the protein levels within the feed, depending on the age of your flock. It’s also important to note poultry types have different protein needs. For example, chicks start at 18-20% protein while turkeys need 27% protein. 

For this moment, let’s stick with chickens. From hatch to 8 weeks of age, you’ll begin them on chick starter which is again 18-20% protein. Then from 8 weeks to 16 weeks, you’ll move them to a grower feed which is 16-18% protein. Lastly, you’ll transition them to a 16% protein layer feed at 17 weeks, for the rest of their life. 

We’ve linked our full poultry feed guidelines in the show notes below as a reference to chickens as well as all other poultry types.

With a better understanding of feed ingredients and the stages of feeding in relation to protein levels, now it’s time to talk consistency. The most common terms you’ll hear are pellet, crumble, or mash. And again, no one is better than the other it really comes down to your personal preference and the type of feeder you’re using.

Pellets are compressed feed, some automatic feeders require this type of feed to ensure they function properly. Mash looks like your feed went through the grinder. It’s a fine powder with some large chunks of corn throughout. Crumble falls somewhere in the middle, where it’s not fully compressed into pellets but not a powder form like mash. Think of mash like cornmeal, crumble like granola, and pellets like Rice Krispies… anyone else getting hungry?

Regardless of the ingredients, protein level, and consistency, these are all feed options that provide the nutrition your flock needs whether they are confined to a coop, run, or allowed to free-range. 

With that, we hope you find the perfect feed to nourish your flock! And that’s your weekly Moment with Meyer. 

Enjoy the rest of your week and as always thank you for listening! 

Hosts & Guests

Kendra + Jeff
From Meyer Hatchery

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