We all want to give the best care to our precious pets, including our urban and backyard chickens. An essential part of pet husbandry is nutrition. Depending on your pet's species, gender, age, or medical conditions, your trusted exotic vet may suggest changes to your sweet baby's diet. Today, we'll discuss transitioning your chicken to new food, including making that change as stress-free as possible.
Reasons for transitioning your chicken to new food
There are two primary reasons for transitioning your chicken to new food.
Chicks becoming adult hens. Like most species, as baby chicks grow, they'll transition food twice before eating adult food 24/7.
Health reasons. For instance, in the winter, as chicken coops are typically unheated, feeding chickens a higher-energy and higher-protein diet help keep them warm. Additionally, starting that higher-energy/protein diet in the fall when they molt and changing your flock’s treats in the winter to ones with more carbohydrates makes your flock more prepared to stay warm. You can learn more about what to feed your chicken in the winter here.
How to transition to new food
No matter the reason for transitioning your chicken to new food, the process should be done slowly to minimize digestive system upset. Not sure what to feed your hens or how to care for them? We can help you with that…go here to learn more. We also have a blog on Chicken Feed: All You Need to Know.
A typical rule of claw (thumb) is to transition your chicken to new food over 7-14 days. If you need a schedule with quantities like me, try the one below from Grubbly Farms. For a pickier flock, you might have to slow the transition:
- Days 1-3: When you first introduce your flock to new food, dress their current feed with the new feed (in about a 90% to 10% ratio).
- Days 4-6: Increase the amount of new food to about 25%.
- Days 7-9: Mix your chickens’ food: 50% existing food, 50% new food.
- Days 10-12: Increase the ratio of new food to about 75% with the remaining 25% being their former food.
- Days 13-14: Increase to a 90% new food to 10% old food balance.
- Day 15: Switch to 100% new food on day 15.
That doesn't sound too bad, does it? But, of course, we recommend talking to your trusted exotic vet first regarding any dietary changes. Have you transitioned your chicken to new food? We’d love to hear about your experience. Please comment on our socials or email us.
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VETERINARY DISCLAIMER: We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice. If your pet is acting unwell, you have concerns for their well being, or before adding any new product, please contact your veterinarian immediately.