Do Your Hens Need a Little Boost in Their Nutrition?
Supplements for a Healthy Flock
Probiotics: Probiotics help improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the chicken’s digestive system. This can lead to better digestion, absorption of nutrients, and immune system function.
Vitamin D: Chickens need exposure to sunlight or a source of supplemental vitamin D to maintain healthy bones and egg production.
Calcium: Calcium is essential for strong eggshells and overall bone health in chickens. Calcium can be provided in the form of oyster shells or calcium carbonate supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can improve the nutritional quality of eggs, making them more beneficial for human consumption.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes can be added to chicken’s drinking water during periods of hot weather or stress to help maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.
It’s important to note that supplements should not replace a balanced and varied diet for chickens, which should include a combination of high-quality feed, fresh water, and access to grazing or foraging.
The rule of thumb is starter crumbles or pellets until the first egg. Young birds are often uninterested in table scraps, but there are a few other nutritious feed sources they will eat… and actually like. After the first 3 weeks it’s just fine to introduce a bit of grass, this is a good way to keep chicks busy, especially if they are beginning to peck each other. Just make sure to sprinkle grit around to help with digestion.
At about 4 months old, I introduce hemp seed and rolled oats just to add a little extra nutrients to my young pullets diet. For no particular reason other than they like chicken scratch, I add that too. I don’t recommend adding this mix to their starter feed, they will only make a mess trying to pick out all the good stuff. I always feed supplements and treats in a separate hanging feeder.
Liquid supplements mixed in their feed is certainly a plus, and I do use them for my Silkies, but they definitely like hemp seed better and it’s a great source of protein containing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. However, it should be feed sparingly because of the high fat content.
As a feeding guideline, I feed four young pullets hemp seed, rolled oats, and scratch in these amounts…
2 heaping tablespoons of rolled oats per day 2 heaping tablespoons of scratch per day 2 tablespoons of hemp seed every other day. Hemp Seed is usually sold by the pound at feed stores that sell lose bulk feed, rolled oats too!
My pullets are now 7 months old and laying daily. This is the only flock I’ve supplemented with hemp seed and the first time I’ve had flawless perfect first eggs.
Calcium supplement: Eggshells are rich in calcium, which is an essential nutrient for chickens. Calcium is necessary for the formation of strong bones, eggshells, and overall health. Improved egg quality: When chickens have adequate calcium intake, they can produce eggs with stronger shells. This can result in fewer cracked or broken eggs. Cost-effective: Feeding eggshells to chickens is a cost-effective way to provide them with a valuable source of nutrition. Instead of purchasing calcium supplements, chicken owners can recycle eggshells to feed their flock. Feeding eggshells to chickens is a simple and effective way to provide them with essential nutrients. However, it is important to crush the eggshells into small pieces before feeding them to chickens to prevent them from developing a taste for eggs and potentially cannibalizing their own eggs, which is possible, but unlikely.