Now that Allen has legalized backyard chickens, I’m going to”peck” at this subject. It’s time to talk about basic chicken terms, life stages and the most important, chicken feed. The basics are as follows, young birds are called chicks, pullets are adolescent birds and layers are adult hens that lay eggs. Hens are the girls. Roosters are the boys and are good for three things. Eating, crowing and making more chickens with the hens. Since we are talking about urban flocks, roosters are a no-no. You don’t need a rooster to have eggs.
The most asked chicken questions Wells Brothers answers is “what do I feed my chicken(s) and for how long?” If you have chicks, start with a “chick starter” feed. Starters are a crumble type feed (aka mash) and are designed for growth. They are available in both “medicated and non-medicated formulas. The “medication” is to combat “coccidiosis”. Coccidiosis is an intestinal parasite that is very common in chicks and can cause death. It is easily treated by feeding a medicated feed so the bird builds up a resistance. There is a trend to vaccinate birds for coccidiosis. Probably works fine but don’t do both. Feed starter until they lay their first egg.
When the first egg is laid move the birds to a “layer” feed. You can eat the first egg. Layer feed is available in pellet and crumble. Layer is designed for egg production. There are complete feeds such as Purina’s Layena line as well as feeds that should be supplemented like the “Home Grown” line. The most common supplement is crushed “Oyster Shells”. Oyster Shell provide calcium which is what egg shells are made of. This brings me to “Hen Scratch”. Hen scratch is milo and corn chops combined. Consider scratch, chicken candy. It works to make friends with your birds and should be considered a treat. The bottom line is, the healthier the chicken the better the eggs. And that is the reason for the exercise.
Wells Brothers has both medicated and non-medicated starter feed as well as layer feed in both crumble and pellet. Layer can be had as either non-complete or a complete feed as well as Omega complex added. There are certified “Organic” and “non-GMO” feeds available through Wells Brothers. We do not stock them but can get them on a special order basis. The cost of these products can be close to double the traditional ones so do your homework.