Dietary Fact Sheet
Feeding your pet chickens a complete and balanced diet is vital to ensure they are happy and healthy. Layer hens are omnivores - meaning they can eat a wide variety of different foods of plant and animal origin.
A nutritionally balanced diet will ensure that your backyard hens are in their best health to regularly lay nutritious eggs of a good size and strong shell quality. The four essential elements of a balanced diet are:
- Dry feed
- Green feed
- Shell grit, and
1. Dry Feed
Dry feed should be the main source of food for your pet chickens. Chickens should be given a dry feed that is suitable for their growth stage so that it contains the essential vitamins and nutrients to help them grow healthy and strong. Peters offers a range of dry feed including Free Range Poultry Mix, Chick Crumbles, Grower Pellets and Layer Pellets.
From day old up to six weeks of age, you should feed your baby chicks Peters Chick Crumbles, which is specially formulated for day old layer chicks up to 6 weeks old. It comes in crumble form so small chicks can eat and digest it easily and is high in protein (22% minimum) to help your chicks grow healthy and strong. A coccidiostat is added to help prevent coccidiosis – a common intestinal disease in poultry.
From six to eighteen weeks of age, you should feed your young chickens Peters Grower Pellets. It contains all the essential nutrients and vitamins for young chickens to grow into healthy adult laying hens. It comes in micro pellet form so small young chickens can eat and digest it easily and a coccidiostat is added to help prevent coccidiosis.
From eighteen weeks of age, chickens are at 'point of lay', that is they are ready to start laying eggs. The age at which a chicken will start laying eggs will depend on the breed and also the season. For example larger, heavier breeds of chickens like Orpingtons, Wyandottes and Plymouth Rocks may tend to take longer to mature and start laying.
Once your chickens reach 'point of lay' (around 18 weeks), you should feed them Peters Free Range Poultry Mix. It is made from a premium blend of whole and cracked grains, is free of artificial colours, flavours, growth hormones and antibiotics, and contains no animal by-products.
Peters Free Range Poultry Mix is a free choice diet. This means each chicken will choose the ingredients that best meet its individual requirements. More time is spent feeding this way than with pellets so the boredom factor is reduced when the chickens are confined to the enclosure. This helps to inhibit anti-social behaviour such as feather and vent pecking or egg eating.
2. Green Feed
In addition to dry feed, you should provide a selection of green feed to your chickens each day. Green feed can include:
- fresh green grass
- lucerne hay
- silver beet
- cabbage, and
- root vegetables like carrots.
Apart from supplying additional vitamins and minerals, green feed is a natural source of the colour pigment that gives egg yolks a strong yellow colour.
Any uneaten green feed should be removed each night as the spoiled food can cause digestive disorders or diarrhoea and therefore loss of egg production.
3. Shell Grit
Shell grit is especially important for laying hens as it provides calcium for healthy bones and helps to strengthen egg shells. Supply shell grit in a separate container.
Sufficient water is critical to the health and well being of chickens. Water should be supplied fresh daily in a raised container and extra amounts given in hot weather.
Peters also has a range of supplements that are ideal to give your pet chickens an extra boost of energy and vitality with added goodness like protein-rich dried mealworms. Our supplements for chickens include: