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Poultry Feed, Types of Poultry Feeds, Feed Formulation

Poultry Feed, Types of Poultry Feeds, Feed Formulation

Table of Contents

Poultry Feed Management:

Today, let us discuss Poultry Feed, Types of Poultry Feeds, Feed Formulation and other chicken food facts.

Food is required for growth, maintenance and reproductive processes of the body. The food given to poultry consists chiefly of cereals and by-products of plant and animal origin and greens. These foods are good sources of nutrients, which supports the functioning of the body, when consumed daily. Poultry also needs such nutrients.

Both the body and egg of a fowl are composed of these six groups of nutrients. In most cases, these are not transferred directly as such from the feed to the tissues, but get split up in the digestive tract and then absorbed and rebuilt in the body.

Providing right nutritious food is very important for poultry growth, production and health. The energy requirements vary, based on many factors, including bird age and production status. Providing adequate nutrition is important for the bird to achieve its productive potential and for it to sustain health.

In case of poor-quality poultry feed, with improper nutrients or does not contain the right levels of energy, can cause nutritional stress and lead to other health concerns.

Nutrients in Chicken/ Poultry Feed:

There are six classes of nutrients are essential to life, growth, production and reproduction in poultry. Nature supplies are highly essentials in the form of pasture, bugs and insects, gravel, grains and seeds, sunshine, etc. Indoor feeding is necessary for young or adult poultry.

  • Water: Birds can live longer without food, but they cannot thrive without water. Insufficient fresh water supply will create hinders in the growth of young poultry; it leads to low egg production and early mounting in the laying flock.
  • Proteins: these are more expensive feeds, but the one most likely to bring profitable results if properly used. The food that is source of proteins are–bone meal, fish meal, meat or meat meal – is more effective in promoting growth and egg production, than protein from most vegetable sources. The vegetable proteins resources are soya bean meal, peanut cake, etc. Grains are also a good source of proteins.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the starchy elements in grains and grain products. Starved flock will suffer with deficiency of carbohydrates.
  • Fats: Fats are available in all the poultry feed materials. An excess of fat from fish oil or meat and fish products can cause digestive upset in birds, and lead to such disorders as fatty degeneration.
  • Minerals: Calcium carbonate (from limestone or gravel, clam or oyster shells, bone, etc.) in the which is the source of Vitamin D, which supports the formation most of the egg shell. Calcium and phosphorous plays key role in formation bones; but excess phosphorous (from bone materials) leads to crooked bones and slipped tendons in chicks and poults. Salts are also a rich source of essential minerals. Green poultry feed contains are rich in highly important minerals.
  • Vitamins: Good poultry feed with balance vitamins will fasten the growth of the birds. The vitamin deficiencies lead to; problems in the hatching of eggs, most commonly lacking in Manitoba diets are:

Vitamin A is available from green feed, yellow corn and fish oils. Vitamin A makes the birds resistant to colds and infections. (2) Vitamin D is available from marine fish oils and synthetic products, or formed in the body when exposed to ultra-violet rays of the sun. Vitamin D will prevent leg weakness and rickets. Riboflavin is available from milk, liver, yeast, green feed, synthetic riboflavin, etc. Riboflavin protects the growth of chicks and poults, both in the egg and after hatching; hence it is one of the most important factors in hatchability. Riboflavin controls the nutritional or curled-toe paralysis in young chicks.

Poultry Feed Nutrients.
Poultry Feed Nutrients.

Types of Feed for Chickens / Poultry Feed Types:

  • Wheat is the best grain for the poultry feeding, a proportion of grains should be included in the ration, along with the wheat. In seasons of rust or frost, when wheat is shrunken, we should ground and fed in mashes and less in the scratch feed. In hard spring or Durum wheat is compulsory.
  • Oats can be fed whole as part of a scratch feed, or in mashes in the crushed, rolled, or finely ground form. If light, sift out the hulls; poor quality oats frequently have so much hull it is not much used.
  • Barley is fed as scratch feed and in mashes in crushed, rolled, or finely ground form. It is not quite as palatable as wheat or oats; In seasons when wheat or oats not available, the barley is fair or good, can be fed in different forms, as boiled or soaked barley, with very good results.
  • Corn is highly used feed, can be fed as whole grain, cracked or ground. Ripe corn on the cob can be fed to hens and turkeys. Shelled corn can be fed with other grains as scratch feed. Corn chops could be used in dry mash rations listed in this circular. If the corn is not thoroughly dried, it should be mixed with the other chop in the mash immediately after grinding.
  • Milletsare good advantage in growing, laying, and fattening rations. Millet fed is equal to one-third of the whole grain fed, and up to one-third of the chop mixture in dry mashes.
  • Rye are fed in limited quantities as a scratch feed or in mashes along with two or more of the other grains. These are not as palatable as wheat, oats or barley, if fed in large quantities it causes digestive disorders.
  • Flax is rich in protein and fat. A small quantity may be fed in the moulting season and fall and winter months. It is fed in the whole or ground form in mashes.
  • The By-products of grain (such as wheat middlings, shorts, bran, barley meal, oat flour, oat middlings, and oat feed) plays a key in poultry feeding. The price of feed is higher than the whole grain.
  • Skim milk and Buttermilk are good feed for all types of Poultry birds, especially for young chicks, laying hens and fattening birds. Milk is a rich source of vitamin riboflavin which is indispensable to high hatching quality in eggs.
  • “Concentrates” and “Balancers” are nutritional supplemental feeds by many poultry feed companies. These feeds are mixed with homegrown chopped grains in the proportions recommended by the manufacturers.
  • Fish Oils supplemental feeds used in chick rations, in winter laying rations and in rations for producing eggs for hatching, this is a source of Vitamins A and D.

Read: Poultry Questions and Answers for Beginners.

Rations for Chickens in Poultry:

Starter Poultry Feed / Starter Rations for Chicks:

  • Young chicks need a special diet which is rich in protein and certain vitamins, the feeds should be carefully balanced mineral content. Two pounds dry mash chick starter will feed one chick up to about six weeks of age. For the birds that are reared to maturity, a cheaper starter ration with high quantities of whole grain may be used. The birds reared for meat like broilers, should be fed with concentrated diet that promotes the rapid growth that is essential to earn profit in broiler raising.
Started Feed for Chickens.
Started Feed for Chickens.

 You can make a chick starter feed at home, but the simple method is to buy the best quality commercial chicken starter and feed it to the chickens. Select the commercial feed that is flaky or mealy, with less palatable finely ground mixtures that tend to paste inside the chick’s mouth. The dry mash must be stored in a cool, dry place and it should be fed carefully and fresh.

  • Feed the chicks as soon as they want to eat. Feed the chicks with dry mash on clean egg-case flats (cup type) or on clean cardboard, around the brooder. It’s best to add some  cracked wheat or chick scratch grain sprinkled over the mash. Once the chickens learn to eat, place the dry mash in self-feeders.
  • There should be a constant supply of fresh drinking water in clean chick fountains. Make sure to keep feed and water separately, You can place hard insoluble grit or fine gravel in pans or hoppers separate from the feed. Along with the dry mash a little cracked wheat can be fed at three weeks, and a little whole wheat after four weeks.
  • In case of, late hatched pullets or of market poultry feed them milk to drink as well as water to promote the growth. Milk is the best replacement for meat meal in the grower mash, if a separate hopper of bone meal is provided. If the maturity is too fast, avoid meat meal or milk.’
  • In case poor quality pasture, add 20 pounds of alfalfa meal and 2 pounds of 200 D fish oil to the growing mash.

Pasture for Chicken’s:

It is compulsory to provide tender green pasture throughout the growing period. The fall rye sown in the fall, can be best for the early hatched chicks. And thick seeding of oats can also be added to the starter feed; and later months provide alfalfa or clover hay cut.

Feeding Pasture will lower the cost of growing poultry. Pastures will reduce the amount of mash and grain consumed and allows one to use a cheap and simple growing ration. Good quality pasture will promote the sleek smoothly-feathered vigorous pullets, enabling them to withstand the strain of heavy egg production the following winter.

Read: Poultry Diseases, Causes, Symptoms.

Feed Rations for Laying Hens:

  • For a profitable Egg production, you must continue at a reasonably high-level field throughout the year. Hens that are allowed for forage in the spring and are fed on grains, will lay poor quality eggs, and they stop laying, moult and spend the summer and fall in growing new feathers; and the eggs they lay are likely to be of “barnyard” quality and low grade.
  • Laying hens need rich protein supplements in addition to the grain and chop. Similarly, they also need good amounts of vitamin and mineral materials along with grain feeds. Many poultryfarmershave recognized the importance of the diet for winter egg production.
  • And the summer feeding is also highly important, as the profit depends upon a steady production of eggs. In a farm, we need to provide the complete quality laying diet, we should feed the layers with wheat and coarse grains, well-cured alfalfa or clover hay, and plenty of skim milk.
  • And the layers need Vitamin D supplements in the winter or indoor conditions. If the hens don’t drink enough milk in cold weather to fulfil their protein requirement; feed the layers with concentrates or balancers, meat meal, fish meal, cooked meat or fish, etc.
  • The Laying hens need a constant supply of oyster shells or limestone grit; along with bone meal in a separate hopper when milk is used as the main protein supplements. Always provide fresh, clean drinking water, or as soon as the daily amount of milk is consumed.

Care for Pullets:

  • Pullets start to lay in the fall, and they should be placed in winter quarters and fed a laying ration before egg production reaches 10 percent. The pellets should be housed in August or September requires a fenced run with good pasture, or plenty of feed in some form, to offset the change from free range.
  • We should keep the pullets separate from yearling or older birds. The pullets start gaining in body weight each month of the fall and up to March.
  • If the pullets lose weight, neck moultor a complete moultand sudden loss in egg production. To maintain body weight, feed the pullets in troughs with the whole grain as the birds will eat in the evening, and about half that amount the next morning in dry litter or troughs; feed the pullets with fresh dry laying mash daily; and if needed feed moist mash at the noon.
  • Excessively high production from pullets will be in the fall and winter and they produce numerous double-yolked and shell-less eggs, feather-picking, prolapse, and cannibalism, as well as loss in weight and moulting. If production reaches 20 percent, feed them with more whole oats, putting the oats in a trough before the birds all the time, in addition to the regular feed.

Feeding Soaked Alfalfa as Winter Green Fed:

A good quality second-cut alfalfa hay, run through a cutting box into one-inch lengths, and soak overnight in a barrel of fresh water. And drain until afternoon and feed the chickens in troughs. This process increases the amount of green feed consumed by laying and breeding flocks while confined indoors. In some cases, the feeding of soaked alfalfa will prevent feather pecking and cannibalism in layers.

Read: Organic Poultry Farming.

Feeding Ration for Breeding Stock:

The feed ration for Layers, is not enough   for the breeding flock. For a high hatchability, the feed rich in riboflavin content must be greatly increased. This element is provided in milk, or specially prepared commercial breeder concentrates or balancers.

The breeding stock should be fed with Ground wheat, oats, barley, fine salt, along with grains and pasture.

The need for Vitamin D is more for breeders than the layers. Note that the daily feeding should include clover or alfalfa leaves. Feed change must be implemented gradually. The flock gets a breeder diet for a full six weeks or two months prior to the period of first eggs for hatching.

Fattening Ratio for Chickens:

Poultry Feed.
Poultry Feed.

If the chicken reared for meat, fattening ratio is compulsory. Flesh is highly produced during the growing season, and it may lose the weight in case improper or insufficient feeding it is difficult to regain.

The market poultry should be well fed all summer seasons. The cockerels should be placed in the enclosed in a large yard to separate them from the pullets. Feed the cockerels, one feed of moistened mash daily in addition to the growing mash and whole grain. Feed the chickens with plenty of green or succulent feed during the growing season; also, plenty of milk or water to drink.

It takes two to three weeks for the final fattening period. Wheat, oats and barely are the best foods for fattening the chickens.


Poultry feed plays a major role in successful poultry farming business.

Last Updated: December 20, 2018
Author: Jagdish


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