Backyard Poultry

What Do Baby Chicks Eat? Chick Starter Feed Is Key for Lifetime Success

Starting a Flock : Chick Nutrition

Starting a Flock : Caring for Chicks

Patrick Biggs, Ph.D.

Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions

Baby chicks grow quickly, doubling their hatch weight in the first week and growing up to seven times their hatch weight in the first month. To support this early growth, baby chicks should eat a complete starter-grower feed which contains the 38 unique nutrients they need to start strong and stay strong. A starter-grower feed with the Chick Strong® System helps raise strong chicks that grow into happy, healthy hens.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. No dessert before dinner. Eat your vegetables! Do you remember hearing these phrases at the dining room table while growing up? Although you may have hated brussels sprouts, these wise words had the best intentions: Eat healthy, so you can grow strong.
We give advice with the same intent to backyard chicken raisers.Baby chicks require 38 nutrients to start strong and stay strong.
Lifetime success begins on day one. It all starts with chick nutrition and care. Baby chicks need 38 unique nutrients to grow into happy, healthy hens. Each of these nutrients – and the proper balance of them – plays a role in growth, performance and flock happiness. 

Raising baby chicks into happy, healthy hens starts on day one

Your mother’s advice to eat more vegetables wasn’t just something to roll your eyes at. A balanced diet supports life-long health and well-being.
Industry research shows the long-term impact of early nutrition on lifetime health and performance.1 The same holds true for backyard chickens. Feeding chicks for a strong start can better equip them for a lifetime of success.2
Just like people and other animals, chicks need a strong start to grow into happy, healthy adults. Many people begin raising backyard chickens for farm fresh eggs, but before the first egg arrives, early chick nutrition is the foundation.
Early nutrition develops the digestive tract and builds a healthy immune system, ultimately improving chick growth.Providing chicks a complete starter-grower 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

Each of the 38 nutrients in a complete feed plays a unique role in chick growth and development. Some nutrients directly impact bone, skeletal and chick growth while others work in tandem to support overall bird health and appearance.
To support chick growth from day one, choose a complete starter-grower feed such as Purina® Start & Grow®Purina® Start & Grow® MedicatedPurina® Organic starter-grower or Purina® Flock Raiser that includes:
  • 18% protein and 1.25% 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 and overall appearance
  • Phosphorous and trace minerals for bone strength
  • Vitamins A, D, E, K and B for overall health and growth
A complete feed makes it simple, because everything chicks need is included in the bag without needing to supplement. All 38 nutrients for starting chicks strong can be found in Purina® starter-grower feeds with the Chick Strong® System.
Ready to start your chicks strong? Learn more by visiting the Chick Strong® System resource center.

1 “Maternal and child undernutrition: Consequences for adult health and human capital.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. 26 Jan. 2008. 12 February 2018.
2 Leeson, S. and J. D. Summers, 1987. Effect of immature body weight on laying performance. Poultry Sci. 66: 1924-1928. 2 February 2018.
3 “Early nutrition and its importance in poultry: A review.” Indian Journal of Animal Nutrition. 26 January 2018.