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What Do Baby Chicks Eat?

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Chickens are great pets. They give fresh eggs, food for your lawn, and years of entertainment with their loud personalities. Chickens are also simple to feed and will eat almost any of your leftovers.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to figure out what to feed baby chicks. Baby chicks, like adult chickens, are adaptable and can eat a range of foods. You may either buy a commercial chick starter feed or prepare your own. Many individuals discover that with a few grains and their normal kitchen waste, they can create their own nutritious, low-cost chicken feed.

A baby chicken’s diet is extremely adaptable, but there are a few foods to reconsider before feeding them to the chickens. Here, we’ll describe the nutrient-dense foods that baby chicks enjoy and the leftovers you should compost.

What Do Baby Chicks Eat?

Baby Chick
A Baby Chick Having its Dinner

Baby chicks don’t require food or water for approximately 48 hours after hatching, as long as they’re kept warm and dry. This is because they consume the yolk of the egg into their bodies just before breaking through the shell.

After that time limit has passed, baby chicks, like their parents, may consume a wide variety of foods. However, what baby chicks should eat and what they can eat are two different questions.

1. Worms

Chickens adore worms! Worms are found in the natural environment of chickens, so it’s in their genetics to like them. Baby chicks are easily able to consume red worms and mealworms; both of which are excellent sources of protein. Feed your chickens just enough worms to feed an appetite without overwhelming their system.

2. Crickets

Baby chicks can consume crickets, and they do so in nature. In moderation, crickets are high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates, making them a fantastic snack.

3. Tomatoes

Tomato leaves are poisonous to baby chicks because they contain toxic solanine. The plant, leaves, and flowers are all harmful since they include deadly solanine. Tomatoes are high in vitamins K, folic acid, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. If you have a garden, any deformed tomatoes should be thrown away.

4. Oatmeal

Oats are a superfood that is high in minerals, protein, and vitamins. Now and then, baby chicks may eat raw oats as well as warm oatmeal. Oatmeal’s nutrients can also be improved by including birdseed and plain yogurt!

5. Strawberries

Chickens love strawberries, and they especially enjoy strawberries. Strawberries are high in magnesium, iron, copper, Vitamin B, and potassium. Strawberries are also rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants that protect your chicks’ health.

6. Bananas

Brown, spotted bananas are an excellent source of nutrition for your baby chicks! Baby chicks can consume bananas, but don’t give them unripe ones. Bananas are high in Vitamin B6 and pyridoxine, as well as magnesium, copper, and good carbs.

7. Apples

Apple slices are a great alternative to formula milk for feeding baby chicks, however, you should chop them up and remove any seeds for easier eating and digestion. Apple sauce is another wonderful option. Apples are high in carbohydrates as well as fiber, potassium, and Vitamin K.

8. Lettuce

Baby chicken can consume lettuce, as well as kale, turnip greens, and chard. Romaine lettuce is high in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, and folate, providing your baby chicken with almost all of the necessary minerals. However, iceberg lettuce is low in nutritional value and may induce diarrhea.

9. Watermelons

Watermelons are suitable for eating by baby chicks; however, they should never be fed the rind or seeds of watermelons. On hot summer days, babies might find watermelon helpful as a source of hydration. Otherwise, they aren’t particularly nutritious.

10. Grass

Most adult hens peck through the grass for insects and consume any little pieces of grass. Chicks that are day or week-old generally have no desire to eat grass. Owners do, however, give their chicks the choice because it encourages foraging.

How To Feed Baby Chicks?

Baby Chick
Baby Chick Being Fed By Its Mother

You can assist your chicks to learn to eat by feeding them using an egg carton lid or a shoebox lid if they are less than one week old. The feeder should be positioned near the heat source but not directly beneath it.

Chicks frequently splash and peck around their feed dishes as they get older, spilling and ruining the food. Consider buying a plastic or metal chick feeder to prevent chicks from walking on their food costs and mess.

Make sure that the coop has enough food so that the hens don’t over or undereat. To prevent bullying, make sure the trough is big enough for most of the chicks to eat at once.

Chicks require a lot of water. Chicks drink an awful lot of water. Water should be refreshed several times each day to keep your flock hydrated. Consider adding vitamin and mineral supplements to the water for the first week to assist your chicks to get off on the right foot.

Water bowls made of paper towels, quilts, or other materials are not advised since chicks may drown readily and will walk through them, kick bedding in them, and poop in them. To a certain extent, commercial waterers assist with these problems; nevertheless, the water dishes need to be cleaned several times a day.

When your hens arrive, submerge each one’s beak in the water to assist them to learn to drink. Make sure the waterer is large enough for the birds to access but not plunge into.

How Much Do Baby Chicks Eat?

Baby chicks require adequately milled starter feeds that are made specifically for them. Each week, Laying breeds consume around 1lb worth of feed. That means that to be able to go up to the age of 6 weeks when baby chickens switch to a distinct developer feed, you’ll need approximately 6 pounds of feed per chick.

Chicks that are under the age of 6 weeks require food that contains protein for their rapidly developing bodies. The amount of protein can be anywhere between 20 and 22%. Some flock keepers may choose to offer medicated starter feed to the chicks in their flock.

Baby chicks do not necessarily need the grit for their feed until they grow older and begin eating finer-milled chick starter food. In fact, some experts feel it’s better to postpone offering grit to baby birds until they’re eating other things in addition to chick feed.

Chick grit should be used as a supplement only; the foodstuff is not sufficient to sustain them for their first weeks. They may mistake the roughage for feed and ingest too much of it, causing digestive issues. Giving your chicks nothing but chick starter feed for their first few weeks can help prevent this from happening.

Six Weeks and Above

During the first week after hatching, juvenile chickens require about 1 pound of grower/developer food per week. This usually occurs between the ages of 16 and 24 weeks, when chicks start to lay.

For the first six weeks of their lives, birds from 6 weeks old to the laying-out period require a diet with 14-16% protein. Please keep in mind that some feed brands do not include a grower or developer formulation and transition directly from starter to layer. Make sure you’re following your feed’s feeding instructions.

What is The Best Feed For Baby Chicks?

Baby chicks need a more nutrient-dense diet than adult chickens. When feeding your baby chickens, be sure their food contains the following nutrients.:

  • Protein: A baby chicken’s diet requires the inclusion of protein that is enriched between 18% and 20% during its early days after birth. Protein aids in the development of muscle, increasing strength and bone integrity during a chicken’s crucial growth periods. Chicks should gradually reduce their protein intake to 16% of their diet by week 19.
  • Vitamins: Poultry require all of the water-soluble vitamins, as well as fat-soluble vitamins. They need all of the main vitamins apart from vitamin C, thiamine, folic acid, biotin, niacin, and riboflavin.
  • Minerals: Maintain a balanced diet for your flock, which likewise includes minerals. Magnesium, iron, calcium, copper, and phosphorus, are just a few of the minerals required by baby fowl.
  • Grains: Soybean, wheat, and cornmeal are some of the most common ingredients in chicken feeds. These grains supply essential vitamins, oil, and protein to poultry in the form of food.
  • Fats:  A chicken’s fatty content majorly arises from the addition of oils that contain linoleic acid; an important fatty acid. Chicken’s fat reserves are primarily composed of fatty acids, which break down vitamins and minerals.

On average, baby chickens require 90% of their nutrition from their milk. Poultry also needs a steady supply of water in addition to their feed. Chickens consume approximately three times the amount of water as humans (one quart per four chickens).

What Are The Natural Predators of Baby Chicks?

Predation is uncommon in industrial poultry farming. Predation, on the other hand, is a major worry for backyard flocks and organic chicken producers. The difference lies in how flocks are housed and managed.

Poultry flocks are susceptible to a variety of predator animals that can inflict damage and financial losses. Due to the size of chickens, chicken flocks are frequently more vulnerable than turkey flocks. Chickens are particularly susceptible to being preyed upon by predators. Weasels, coyotes, foxes, and their relatives are just a few of the predators that may target chickens. Domestic animals such as dogs and cats can be poultry eaters as well.

Chickens are frequently killed and fledged by predators, particularly if the assault takes place at night. Predators find unprotected nests to be ideal targets.

How To Protect Baby Chicks From Predators?

The first line of defense against predators is to fortify the coop against them. This should be the objective of every poultry keeper. Sturdy fencing, overhead protection from wild birds and raptors, as well as closing any gaps or entrances, will significantly reduce the chance of a predator harming the flock and offer excellent biosecurity. Whether or not you want to trap or hunt predators is dependent on local laws and conventions.

How Can We Keep Baby Chicks Warm in The Cold?

Because it’s critical for newborn chickens to be kept warm without getting too hot, set up their incubator at least a day before their arrival. Choosing the proper heat lamp and establishing the ideal temperature for your chickens will guarantee a healthy environment for them.

Using a 250-watt infrared heat lamp, such as one that produces infrared radiation, is the best method to keep baby chicks warm and happy. While screw-in ceramic heaters are quite efficient, incandescent bulbs, electric heat pads, and hot-water radiators should not be used because they do not provide constant warmth at an appropriate temperature.

You may customize your brooder box’s temperature by adjusting the lamp up and down. Start the lamp a few days before adding your chicks. To figure out the best heat lamp location, you should ideally use a thermometer that is unbreakable and can be aligned with the chick’s size. Depending on the age of the chick, certain temperatures, light exposure, and the placement of the lamp itself must be adjusted. The temperatures indicated to the right are suggested ranges given by Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Check your chicks’ behavior after you’ve adjusted the temperature. Comfortable youngsters may be seen scooting about the brooding area in various ways. Chicks that are cold will generally gather around the light, cheeping loudly. Overheated chicks are frequently separated from one another, with their beaks open and their feathers fluffed. Adjust the lamp’s height until the birds are comfortable.

Examining the legs of the chicks may also reveal their preferred temperature. The limbs of chilly chicks are frigid to the touch and appear puffy or engorged. The limbs of overheated chicks can be dry, thin, and dehydrated in appearance.

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