The Role of Key Nutrients in Chicken Feed

When raising chickens, you’ve often been told time and time again that the nutrients your chickens receive will make or break the quality of eggs hens produce or the taste they offer. This is very true and is due to the same reasons that humans themselves need to ensure they’re only putting the best of the best into their bodies.

However, the nutrients chickens need differ in type and amount than that of what humans need. By breaking down why nutrients are important for chickens and the specific ones they need, anybody can raise a healthy flock. 

Why Are Nutrients Important for Chickens?

Just as humans do, animals eat to acquire the energy and building blocks of life that are required to grow over time. This energy is used for normal bodily functions like moving around, digesting the food that’s eaten, and even something as simple as maintaining body temperature. In poultry, nutrients also dictate the health of their feathers, eggs, and bones. 

For example, Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision and reproductive health, but it also sustains larger energy sources such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats. By ensuring feed has large amounts of Vitamin A, you can also ensure your birds are receiving better nutrients all around. 

Primary Nutrients Necessary for Poultry Feed

At its core, there are six primary nutrients that need to be included in poultry feed to help foster energy absorption. It should be noted that the specific amount of each that is needed will vary on age and whether or not a hen, if applicable, is laying eggs or breeding:

  • Water: It’s best to allow chickens to have around a pint of water on a daily basis. 
  • Proteins: At a minimum, chickens will need a feed containing 14-22% crude protein throughout the day. 
  • Carbs: A healthy balance of carbohydrates stemming from grains and wheat are most beneficial on a daily basis for chickens. 
  • Fats: On a daily basis, chickens may need anywhere from 4-6% fat in their feed. 
  • Minerals: Calcium, phosphorous, and salt are the mineral that are needed in the highest amount for chickens, with the first of those three helping to support skeletal formation.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B1 are the primary vitamins you should seek to add into the diet of your flock.  

The role of protein and vitamins in chicken feed nutrition cannot be overstated. Each and every one of the above nutrients plays a key role in the development of your flock, but some are more important than others. 

What is The Most Important Nutrient for Chickens?

While all of the six primary ingredients listed earlier are important to have in the feed you provide to your flock, protein is one of the most important. This is due to the fact that protein needs will vary drastically depending on a chicken’s age and sex. Hens will require more protein in the early stages of life, but it must be cut back during egg-laying production.

Additionally, meat birds need to be start abnormally high on protein, typically around 22%, before being cut back to 17% near the time they are ready. Due to this increased variability, monitoring protein and ensuring the right amount of protein is giving to your flock is incredibly important.  

Best Type of Chicken Feed for The Most Ingredients

Overall, there are two main types of chicken feed that are for sale on the market: organic and GMO. GMO stand for genetically modified organisms and refers to extra additives that may be in the feed which were used to preserve the ingredients or bolster them. In general, though, using organic feed options is the better choice.

While organic feed comes at a higher price point, you are more likely to see an increase in the nutrients used. Therefore, tracking down organic options will make for a healthier flock that has less digestive issues and a better history of growth, egg-laying, and reproduction. 

Properly Care For Your Flock

While the Best food your chickens eat is just one aspect of their total health, it is the building block upon which the other factors occur. Without a healthy diet and body, a hen will be less likely to successfully lay enough quality eggs or the entire taste of the chickens you raise may be thrown off. To keep your flock healthy, choose to provide each and every chicken with only the highest quality feed. 

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