Meat chickens, also known as broilers, are raised for the purpose of producing meat for consumption. But what to feed meat chickens? These birds are typically raised in large numbers on commercial farms, but they can also be raised on a smaller scale by backyard farmers.
In order to raise healthy and robust meat chickens, it’s important to provide them with a nutritious diet that meets their unique dietary needs. In this blog, we’ll discuss the basics of what to feed meat chickens and provide some tips on how to ensure that they’re getting the best possible nutrition.
You may also want to read about the best chicken feeder.
What to feed meat chickens? Commercial Feed
Commercial feed is the primary source of nutrition for most meat chickens. This type of feed is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of broilers and is available in both pellet and crumble form. Most commercial broiler feeds contain a mix of grains, vitamins, and minerals, as well as added protein from sources such as soybean meal, fish meal, and dried insects.
When selecting a commercial feed for meat chickens, look for a product that is specifically labeled for broilers. Broiler feed typically contains higher levels of protein and energy than other types of poultry feed, which is necessary to support rapid growth and development. It’s also a good idea to look for feeds that are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
In addition to commercial feed, meat chickens can also benefit from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some good options include leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and lettuce, as well as carrots, peas, corn, and berries. These types of foods can provide important vitamins and minerals that are not always found in commercial feeds.
It’s important to note that while meat chickens enjoy a variety of fresh produce, they should not be fed avocados, onions, garlic, or citrus fruits in large quantities, as these can be harmful to their health.
Meat chickens also require additional sources of protein to support their growth and development. Protein-rich supplements such as dried mealworms, crickets, and shrimp can be added to their feed to boost their protein intake. These supplements are widely available at pet stores and online retailers.
It’s important to offer these supplements in moderation, as too much protein can lead to health problems such as kidney damage. A good rule of thumb is to limit protein supplements to no more than 10% of the bird’s total diet.
Supplements and Additives
In addition to basic dietary guidelines, there are a few other things to keep in mind when feeding meat chickens. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Provide access to clean, fresh water: Meat chickens need access to clean, fresh water at all times. It’s important to regularly clean and refill their waterers to prevent the spread of disease and ensure that they have enough water to drink.
- Avoid feeding them too many treats: While meat chickens love to eat, it’s important to monitor their food intake to prevent them from overeating. Overweight chickens are at risk for a variety of health problems, including heart disease and joint problems. Limit treats to no more than 5% of the bird’s total diet.
- Consider adding probiotics and other supplements: Probiotics and other supplements can help support the overall health of meat chickens. These products can help improve digestion and boost the immune system, which can lead to healthier, more robust birds.
Feeding meat chickens is relatively easy and straightforward. By providing them with a mix of commercial feed, fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein-rich supplements, you can ensure that they’re getting the nutrients they need to support rapid growth and development. It’s also important to monitor their food intake and provide them with access to clean, fresh water to keep them healthy and happy.