Working at the hatchery poses a lot of questions to you especially when we have newbies who want to raise chickens for profit or just for hobbies and among all the questions one popular question they often ask is what do baby chicks eat?
If you are wondering what to feed baby chicks, this article is for you, I will explain and walk you through absolute beginner principles on how and what to feed baby chicks.
1. What Do Chicks Eat in Nature
By nature, baby chicks eat green leaves or grass, worms, and insects that they are helped to devour by their mother hens. The chicks follow their mother wherever she goes by moving very close to her. Mother hens naturally help their young chicks by using their claws to scratch the ground in search of worms.
Chickens love grains and will feed on them in the wild or on farmlands when they come across them. Baby chicks can only consume grains in smaller size particles but a matured chicken can pick up whole grains due to the presence of many muscles in their proventriculus or gizzard to break down the ingested food.
In the wild or any open area where chicks are free to roam about, they pick up grits (smaller size stones) which aid in breaking down food in the stomach. In any unconfined place where your chicks have a mother or are mature enough, they will prefer feeding on bugs, greens, grits, and fallen grains by nature.
2. What To Feed Baby Chicks
Depending on the source of your baby chicks, one, if the baby chicks do have a mother you can leave them in the garden on the lawn to feed on the greens, worms, and insects, and the second part is when the baby chicks are from the hatchery incubator you need to put them on formulated feed known as the start and grower crumble or starter mash. Below is a list of top starter/grower crumbles for baby chicks.
3. List of Starter/Grower Crumbles
- Kruse feed organic starter/grower crumble
- Kelley’s Starter Grow Crumbles [Food for Chicks 0-18 Weeks]
- Kalmbach feeds 20% Organic Chick and Meatbird Starter Grower (Crumble)
- HEN UP Starter Grower Organic Crumbles Chicken Food
- Purina Organic Starter-Grower Crumbles Poultry Feed, 35 lb
- Nature’s Best Organic Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles, 40 lb
- KING ORGANIC Chick Starter Grower Crumbles, 50 lb
- Sprout 50 lb Chick Starter-Grower Crumble
- Manna Pro Organic Starter Crumble Complete Feed
- Country Feeds Chick Starter Grower 18% Crumbles Medicated
4. Feeding Chicks After Incubation
From day one of embryo formation during the incubation period, the embryo before developing into a fluffy full chick feeds on the egg yolk. Eggs with low nutrient levels may produce baby chicks with poor chick quality. After twenty-one days of successful incubation, a baby chick can stay without feeding on external feed for a maximum of three days.
Three days after hatch, baby chicks feed internally on what is called residual yolk and it is within this same period that baby chicks get transported to their final destination to be raised. So, chicks can survive for up to 3 days without food and water after hatch. As much as they can survive make sure to provide a warm environment for them (How to care for baby chicks).
Right from the hatchery, move the baby chicks to the brooding room where you have heat equipment installed to keep them warm whiles they dry well and develop enough feathers to warm themselves.
5. Feeding Chicks During Brooding
In temperate regions, brooding is expected to start on day one (1) and end on day eighteen (18th) and in tropical or hot climate zones day one (1) up to day fourteen (14) of brooding is okay. The brooding stage for baby chicks is very important. The success of your chicken performance depends on the brooding stage.
By nature, mother hens provide baby chicks with warmth and feed them but for instance, if your baby chicks are from the hatchery, you need to follow these principles, HOW TO CARE FOR DAY OLD CHICKS.
Baby chicks are gregarious in nature and follow the actions taken by each other chicks in the pen. When you get into the brooder house, you have to manually introduce them to the feed and water by dipping their beaks into it for the time after which the others will follow. This has been my favorite trick and works every time when we bring in new chicks.
Popular FAQs About What Do Baby Chicks Eat
Can baby chicks eat bread?
When raising baby chicks at home, you can serve them with bread to feed. Baby chicks love bread but it should be in smaller sizes for easy ingestion.
When baby chicks hatch What do they eat?
Baby chicks feed on internal yolk which remains and helps them to survive for the next 2 to 3 days. It is advisable to collect fertile eggs from healthy parent breeds so as to have healthy baby chicks.
What do baby chicks need to survive?
Baby chicks need a temperature of 35°C in the early stage, a protective floor with wood shavings, energy-induced water, and a starter crumble.
How do you give baby chicks water?
Use a chick starter drinker, dip the beak of the baby chick into the water for the first time and it will continue to drink from there when needed.
Do chicks need light at night?
In instances where the light serves as a source of heat, it is okay to leave it on at night but in general, chickens do not need light at night. Chickens need 8 hours of rest to perform efficiently.
What do baby chicks eat in the wild?
Bugs, greens, worms, and flies.
We hope this guide gives you the best knowledge on what to feed baby chicks at home and on commercial bases. We love to grow with you. Let us know what you think or any suggestions in the comment box below. Thank you.