Frequently Asked Questions - Poultry
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Scratch should be considered a special treat for your chickens. It is a simple mix of grains—primarily corn—and is missing the protein, vitamins, and minerals that adult birds require to be healthy and lay eggs. Scratch should only be fed sparingly and occasionally. If you live in a cold climate, a little scratch before bed time will help keep your birds warm on cold winter nights as they digest the carbohydrates.
Feed labeled “organic” must meet very specific requirements. Organic plants are required to be grown with natural fertilizers and without pesticides or hormones, among other things. Livestock that is organic must be fed organic feed and not be given animal byproducts, antibiotics or hormones.
Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have had their DNA altered to increase resistance to herbicides, improve nutritional content, or a variety of other reasons. Most GMO foods are plants such as corn, canola or soybean. Non-GMO feed is made by grains that have not been genetically altered, but may have been treated with pesticides.
Non-GMO Feed is not necessarily organic, but organic feed is always non-GMO.
Breeding replacement birds should be fed Ace Hi Gamebird Developer and Ace Hi Scratch from 14 weeks until 30 days prior to breeding season. Then all birds should be placed on a 100% Ace Hi Gamebird Breeder diet. There is no need for any supplements.
Poultry feed stored properly in a cool, dry place will last up to six months. Always inspect feed prior to use for bugs, mold, or other abnormalities.
An adult hen will eat approximately 1/4 pound of feed per day. We recommend Ace Hi Big Feeder or Ace Hi All Age products. These feeds provide maximum egg production and good health for your chickens. You do need a different feed for roosters housed with hens. Chicken scratch is like candy, it has a low 9% protein without the added vitamins or proteins required to have your hens laying eggs at their potential.
Star Milling manufactures Ace Hi Chick Starter Mash that is a complete, nutritious vegetarian chick diet, which does not require any supplementation. It is fortified with vitamins and minerals to support healthy growth and development. It has 19% protein to support muscle development and weight gain, without added hormones. It is a non-medicated formula. If your chicks require short-term medication, we suggest adding it to the water supply.
An average bantam will consume 40 to 50 pounds. Large breeds may consume 80 to 100 pounds.
It is natural for a hen to “sound off and cluck” after laying an egg.
Once a year, usually in autumn, their feathers will fall out and new ones will grow. This is called molting.
Pullets will generally start laying at 6 months old. Experts say a chicken is in their prime from one to two years old—by age five they are considered old. Although a five year old hen will lay a lot of eggs.
If a pullet reaches maturity during the winter months, it is possible she will not lay until the weather warms. Chickens are "light sensitive" and lay eggs according to sunlight. You will get more eggs during spring, summer, and fall. If you want eggs year round, put a light timer so the hens will have light from 4-7 a.m. and 5-9 p.m.
Hens also stop laying occasionally for various reasons, many of which are not cause for concern. Moving hens to an unfamiliar location, changing the feed or feeding routine, or sudden weather changes in temperature can cause an interruption in laying. Sometimes hens will stop laying during the warmest part of summer. Hens also stop laying during the molt, as they need all of their energy to make new feathers. Some breeds will resume laying immediately after a molt and others won’t start laying until spring. It is irregular for a laying hen to stop during the period of mild weather between spring and mid-fall.
Chickens are susceptible to worms. Worms often cause one or more of the following symptoms: general weakness, unstable production, runny droppings, inability to gain weight. Chickens should be de-wormed, with poultry dust applied to all chickens in the flock at the same time. These products are available from your local feed store.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are added to the feed which enhance the healthy flora or bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract. This “good bacteria” improves the intestinal balance of microbes while inhibiting the growth of “bad bacteria.” Probiotics work similar to the live cultures found in yogurt.
Prebiotics are soluble fibers that encourage the growth of “good bacteria” in the stomach. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not bacteria.
It’s easy to compare two different kinds of chicken food, right? Take a look at the tags. If the nutrients listed are the same percentage, then shouldn’t the feeds be pretty much the same? Well, not exactly.
In reality, the amount of information listed on a feed tag is very minimal. Feed tags do not mention the quality of the ingredients that go into making a feed. Quality is important for digestibility of the feed and overall health of the animal.
The most important component on a feed tag may be the brand listed. Knowing that the feed is made by a company with the resources to produce the right feed is the best assurance of quality. Star Milling’s Ph.D. nutritionists formulate every feed we sell to ensure we’re using the highest quality ingredients available. They don't just look at individual nutrients. They look at the nutritional profile of each ingredient and what they provide for growth, performance, and overall health. We consider how all nutrients interact—because too much of a good thing can cause problems.