Chicken Feed Definitions and Supplements

Use this list of chicken feed definitions to help you understand what you should be feeding your chickens. Don't fret, if your new to raising chickens you'll get the hang of the jargon in no time.

Chicken Feed Definitions:

Mash: a blend of several feed ingredients, ground to a small size but not to a powder.

Pellets: small kernels of compressed mash, causing birds to eat the whole blend, not pick and choose. Crumbles: pellets broken up into smaller pieces

Starter: a blend of feed for chicks and growing birds, usually in the form of mash; approximately the same as "Grower"; can be replaced with "adult" food as soon as chicks go for it, somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks of age

Grower: approximately the same as "Starter"

Layer: feed blend for chickens that are laying eggs, having extra calcium and protein added

Broiler: feed blend for chickens that are growing as fast as possible, in order to be harvested for meat as early as possible

Scratch: whole grains fed separately to chickens, usually scattered on the ground or litter of the coop; usually a mixture of grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, etc. (corn/maize must be cracked before using as scratch grain)

Chicken Feed Definitions: Ingredients

Concentrate: a blend of protein-rich foods, plus any other nutrients desired; usually fed together with a grain ration

Grit: angular, hard crushed rock, preferably from granite, used by the chickens in place of "teeth" --- seashells and bone CANNOT substitute for grit; for confined birds, grit should be offered several times a month at least; it should be of the right size for the age of the bird (see Baby Chicks page); birds allowed to free range don't need to be offered grit -- they find their own ideal sizes and types to suit themselves

Corn: American term meaning maize corn, or "corn on the cob" (in England "corn" means what grain means in the US, that is, all food grains)

Grain: American term meaning any small, hard seeds, especially grass-family seeds (called corn in England); provides energy, B vitamins, phosphorus, and the whole grains are a fair source of protein, too

Bran: the outer coating of a kernel of grain; extremely high in silicon, which slows down its decomposing in the soil; cheap by-product of milling, often given away free by large mills

Germ: the embryo plant inside a kernel of grain; very nutritious and high in protein; wheat and rice germ (also called "rice polish") are a salable by-product of milling

Middlings: an old milling term for the parts of the kernel that are milled off with the germ, and probably contain both the starch and bran (please email me if you have more specific information :-)

Calcium: provided by sea shells, crushed bone, and fresh or dried greens --- amounts need to be measured closely, if not free range; must be provided in higher quantities as soon as chickens begin to lay eggs

Protein: any food high in amino acids, used to build tissues; protein quality is determined by the "completeness" of the amino acid varieties in the food source; all meats, eggs of all kinds, milk, cheese, nuts, seed germs, and soy beans are high protein sources

Amino acid: a molecule that is one building block of protein; there are many different amino acids, most of which can be manufactured in the body; the few that cannot must be supplied by foods, and are called "Essential Amino Acids"; a food that supplies all eight essential amino acids is called "complete"

Vitamins: an old, general term meaning "life-giving"; a chemical found in nature or made by man to imitate natural ones; new vitamins, and new uses for known vitamins, are always being discovered

Minerals: non-life-created chemicals found in nature; these and vitamins can be added to dietary regimens to improve health; sea water contains all the minerals of the earth, in their natural forms and safe amounts; "trace minerals" are those needed in relatively very tiny amounts, and can be highly toxic if these amounts are exceeded; "macro-minerals" are those needed in large amounts, such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium

Kelp: sea-weed, plants that grow in the sea; contains all the minerals of the earth; all kelp is edible, and can easily be dried and fed to chickens by clipping a sheaf of it to something in their area (also, this replaces any need to add salt to their rations)

Chicken Feed Definitions: Methods of Raising Poultry

Free range: ideally, not controlled by fences, able to get to fresh greens and insects; as commercially used, this term allows fences, with minimum amount of space per bird set by government agency definition

Pastured poultry: hens kept in movable, usually wheeled, pens, moved daily over fresh pasture, creating delicious meat and the very most nutritious eggs (and very fertile pastureland, too)

Organic: inspected by government agencies, organic food sources must not contain traces of harmful chemicals; the term as currently used does not insure that poultry has been raised in the best possible way, only that it has near zero harmful ingredients

Chicken Feed Definitions: Types of Chickens

Pullets: female chickens in their first year of lay, or prior to their first moult; female baby chicks

Hens: female chickens in their second year of lay, or after their first moult

Straight Run: a random mixture of male and female baby chicks, usually less expensive than only pullets

Cockerels: male baby chicks; male young domestic fowl

Rooster: adult male chicken, or adult male of other domestic or non-domestic fowl

Broilers: chickens raised to be eaten

Meat birds: old term for broilers

Layers: chickens raised to be egg-layers

Layer-Broiler: chickens raised to be both egg-layer and to be eaten

Bantam: a miniaturized chicken of any breed; most breeds have a regular-size and a bantam variety

Banty: same as Bantam

Continue to come back and check as we add more chicken feed definitions.

For a full glossary of chicken terms, not just chicken feed definitions, follow the link!!

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