What Can You Feed Chickens? 4 Nutrients Every Happy Bird Needs

what can you feed chickens hen diet rooster food

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get a bite of something delicious and nutritious, probably. 

What can you feed chickens? Hens require essential nutrients to stay strong enough to provide you with eggs. What you feed your birds plays a significant role in your chickens' overall health. 

If you're wondering what to and what not to feed chickens, we've got you covered. Let's explore the top four nutrients your rooster and hen birds need. 

1. Protein 

If you're wondering how to feed chickens so they grow into strong, healthy birds, start with plenty of protein. 

Excellent sources of protein for chickens include: 

• Beef and lamb 
• Fish 
• Dried mealworms 
• Seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower) 
• Nuts (including walnuts, almonds, and peanuts) 

Protein is crucial for laying hens. Producing one egg drains the chicken of its nutritional resources, and it's equivalent to giving birth to a human baby. Therefore, hens need to recover lost protein through their diet. 

2. Greens 

Fresh greens should be a part of both you and your chicken's diet. Greens are rich in a variety of nutrients, including Vitamins E, A, and B. 

If you're trying to raise healthy hens, incorporate these veggies into their diets: 

• Lettuce 
• Beets 
• Broccoli 
• Swiss chard 
• Kale 
• Cucumbers 
• Oregano 
• Thyme 
• Basil Ferns 
• Pumpkins 

Free-range birds will find their own plants to snack on throughout the day. Some farmers plant chicken-friendly gardens in their pastures, so the birds can pick at their favorite greens on their own. 

3. Grains 

Carbohydrates make up the largest portion of your chicken's diet. Carbs supply your chickens with energy and is a necessary fuel source. Without it, your hens cannot muster the energy they require to lay eggs. 

Chickens get their carbohydrates from grains. Popular and chicken-friendly grains come from corn, wheat, barley, rye, and oats. The grains provide the chickens with energy as well as Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and phosphorus. 

Some farmers use feeder systems to ensure their hens get their daily doses of healthy grains. Other farmers may sprinkle whole-grain chicken scratch across their pasture, so the chickens can hunt and peck at the grains throughout the day. 

4. Calcium 

Eggshells are made from calcium. That means laying hens require plenty of calcium in their diets. If not, the eggs may use calcium from their bones, which leads to chickens with joint problems due to calcium deficiency. 

If your hens are having trouble laying eggs, they are not getting enough calcium through their food. 

Today, it's estimated laying hens require four to five grams of calcium per day, which is three times more than non-laying hens. 

Look for chicken feed that incorporates limestone flour and oyster shell grit for healthy calcium intake. 

What Can You Feed Chickens and More Tips 

What can you feed chickens? Incorporating healthy sources of calcium, grains, greens, and protein into your hens' diets will lead to better egg production and longer living birds. So forget about the "which came first: the chicken or the egg" debate and go out to buy some healthy rooster and hen food.

What other tips and tricks are you looking to learn when it comes to feeding animals? We publish a wide variety of helpful non-business articles as well on pets, animals, and farming. Start exploring now.

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