Backyard Poultry

Chick Starter Feed: What to Feed Baby Chicks for a Healthy Life

Starting a Flock : Considering Chickens

Starting a Flock : Chick Nutrition

Starting a Flock : Caring for Chicks

Patrick Biggs, Ph.D.

Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions

Feed your baby chicks a Purina® complete chick starter feed with all the unique nutrients they need to start strong and stay strong.
One of the first questions we hear from new chick parents is: What do baby chicks eat?

Lifetime success begins on day one of your new chick’s life. Their road to becoming happy, healthy hens that lay delicious fresh eggs for you, starts with daily care and high-quality chick starter feed. Baby chicks need unique nutrients to grow into strong, egg-laying hens. Each necessary nutrient – and the proper balance of them – plays a role in growth, performance and flock happiness.  

Caring for baby chicks 

Caring for baby chicks begins with a warm brooder and good nutrition. You can download resources to help you welcome home new chicks from our New Chick Parent Resource Center.
Feeding chicks for a strong start can better equip them for a lifetime of success. Early nutrition develops the digestive tract and builds a healthy immune system, ultimately improving chick growth. Providing chicks a complete chick starter feed is key.
Chicks grow quickly, doubling their hatch weight in the first week and growing up to seven times their hatch weight in the first month. This early growth requires the correct balance of nutrients.  

What to feed baby chicks 

Start your chicks strong by feeding a complete chick starter feed from day 1 when you bring them home until the first egg arrives around week 18. Each of the feeds below is formulated to provide all the nutrition your chicks and other poultry need for a strong, healthy start and lifetime success:
  Complete chick starter feeds include all the nutrients baby birds need to start strong and grow at the proper pace. Some nutrients directly impact bone, skeletal and chick growth while others work in tandem to support overall bird health and appearance.
Nutrients in Purina® Start & Grow® and Organic Starter-Grower complete chick starter feeds include:
  • 18 percent protein and 1.25 percent calcium for bone and body growth
  • Prebiotics and probiotics for immune and digestive health
  • Amino acids for muscle and feather development
  • Marigold extract for brightly colored beaks, feet and legs as well as overall appearance
  • Phosphorous and trace minerals for bone strength
  • All the vitamins your chicks need for overall health and growth
Continue feeding the same chick starter feed to your chicks from day 1 to week 18. We recommend waiting to introduce treats or scratch to your chicks’ diet until week 18. If you are feeding a complete chick starter feed, your chicks do not need grit. If you start chicks on a medicated chick starter feed, keep feeding the same medicated feed until their first egg.
Most layer chick breeds will lay their first egg around week 18. At that time, choose a layer feed with the Purina® Oyster Strong® System to help your hens lay strong and stay strong. Other species, like ducklings, stay on starter feed longer, 24 to 26 weeks, before transitioning to a complete feed.

Want more tips on how to start your chicks strong? Visit the New Chick Parent Resource Center for downloadable guides, videos, customer testimonials and more.