Newly hatched chicks ages 0-10 weeks should be fed a chick starter diet with a protein level between 10%-20%. These rations are formulated to provide proper nutrition for growing baby chickens. Higher protein starter rations (22%-24%) are reserved for meat birds such as turkey, quail and pheasant. This higher protein level maximizes growth for broilers and roasters, but is not necessary or desirable for egg laying chickens.
At 10 weeks of age, a grower feed should replace the starter feed. Grower feeds are typically 15%-16% protein, and are designed to sustain growth to maturity. The higher protein content (20%), in starter/grower feeds is recommended for growing game birds.
Layer feeds are designed to provide optimum nutrition for birds laying eggs for consumption. Layer feeds contain 16% protein and have increased levels of Calcium, for proper shell development. Layer feeds should be fed starting around 18 weeks of age, or when the first egg is laid, whichever comes first.
It is necessary to provide an adequate supply of fresh, clean water for your birds at all times. Chickens will drink approximately three times as much water by weight as they eat in feed. A good rule of thumb is to provide one quart of water for every four chickens. Water intake levels will also increase significantly during periods of warm weather. Baby chicks should only be offered water, (no feed) during the first hour. The first water offered to Baby Chicks should include cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of Terramycin per gallon. This will help boost immunity and reduce stress of shipping. For the second day, 1 teaspoon of Terramycin only should be added (no sugar,) and then fresh clean water after that.