Feeds and Feeding

How To Feed Chickens

Starter Feeds

Newly hatched chicks ages 0-8 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.

Grower Feeds

At 8 weeks of age, a growers' mash should replace the starter feed for pallets upto 18 weeks of age. 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

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 to 76 weeks of age.

Feeding Layers.

•    Use recommended feed trough e.g. Naivasha feeders.
•    Fill the trough 1/3 to ½ full for dry feed.
•    Feed once or twice a day.
•    Always buy feeds from reputable feed stockists or manufacturers.

Layers' Feed Requirements.

For chicks 0 to 8 weeks of age, give 40gm per chick, per day, of chick/duck mash. This amounts to about 2kg chick/duck mash per chick for 8 weeks.

For pullets or growers 8 to 18 weeks of age, give 80gm per bird per day, of growers mash. This amounts to 8 to 9kg of feed per bird for 12 weeks.

For birds 18 to 76 weeks of age allow 120 to 130gm per bird, per day of layers mash. This amounts to about 45 kg of layers mash per bird from 20 to 76 weeks of age.

Note: For practical purposes, it is good to allow free lib for chicks and free feeding for the older birds if the feed troughs are appropriate and feeders are filled to appropriate levels. Birds will consume just enough and may not over eat, so long as feed is continuously available in the troughs.

Wastage Control.

In a poultry enterprise, cost of feed constitutes 80% to 90% of total costs.  It is important that feed wastages should be avoided wherever possible.

Wastages in a poultry unit will arise from poorly designed feed troughs; too full feeders allowing feed spillage. For instance; when feeders are fully filled to two-thirds-full, 10% of the feed is wasted; when feeders are half-filled, only 3% of the feed is wasted. Wastage also arises from theft by rats and wild birds if they have access to the poultry unit. Naivasha feeder is identified as a good anti-waste feeder.

It is necessary for every poultry farmer to buy proper feeders, fill them as recommended and keep off rats and wild birds.

Feeding Broilers

a.Feed Types

Use broilers start mash up to 4 weeks of age.  Use broilers follow up mash from 4 to 7 weeks of age.


Feed the birds ad lib.


Normally birds will consume 4 to 5kg per bird to reach slaughter weight in 7 weeks.  Slaughter weight is normally 2kg Life Weight. Farmers should check feed loss into the litter by using proper feeders and filling feeders properly.

Note: Farmers should not keep broilers if they do not have a ready market. After broilers reach their market weight they should be sold out otherwise the farmer will incur losses.


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 quarter 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 1/4 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.