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Food for Meat Birds

Food for Meat Birds

Food for Meat Birds

Cockerels and Pullets that are raised for butchering require a specific diet to keep them healthy and ensure they grow quickly. Their diet is different from chickens raised for laying eggs, and their diet changes as they transition from a chick into a pullet or cockerel.

If you are raising meat birds, you will want to feed them:

As your chickens grow, they will require less protein concentration in their feed. Starter feed typically contains over 20% protein whereas Layer feed contains around 16%.

Even though the percent of protein may decrease with age, the amount of feed your meat birds consume will most certainly increase with age. The following guidelines show you how much each bird is likely to eat:

  • Chicks eat nearly 1 pound of feed per week for 6 weeks, or 6 pounds total
  • Cockerels and Pullets eat 1 pound of feed per week or more

It is possible to make your own chicken feed; however, we find that commercial mills are able to produce in such large scale that they often deliver feed for less cost that if you made it yourself. The other benefit of purchasing commercial feed is that you don’t have to worry about managing the correct proportions and ensuring freshness of each ingredient.

Commercial feed comes in three primary forms:

  • Mash: Feed that has been crushed, but its components are still identifiable by chickens
  • Pellet: Reconstituted mash formed into small equally sized bites that chickens consume quickly
  • Crumble: Broken up pellets that take longer to eat and keep chicken occupied

If you decide to take it upon yourself to make your own feed. We recommend visiting the animal science website at They have a publication called Feeding Chickens that offers the following proportion recommendation for grower feed. This feed may not result in the most optimal feed conversation rates for meat birds, but the recipe may give you guidance to start experimenting with mixes:

  • 50% Coarsely ground grain (e.g., corn, milo, barley, oats, wheat, rice, etc.)
  • 18% Wheat bran, mill feed, rice bran, etc.
  • 16.5% Soybean meal, peanut meal, cottonseed meal, sesame meal, etc.
  • 5% Meat meal, fish meal, etc.
  • 4% Alfalfa meal
  • 2% Yeast or milk powder
  • 2% Bone meal
  • 2% Ground limestone, marble or oyster shells
  • 0.5% Salt with trace minerals
  • Vitamin Supplements

The final consideration you have related to feed is deciding how you plan to deliver the feed to your meat birds. We offer the following feeders because they are easy to clean, easy to fill and prevent your birds from roosting (and pooping) above the feed:

Chick Feeders One colorful and inexpensive option is to purchase a Quart Screw on Jar and accessorize it with your choice of base.
  Quart Scren On Jar 1 quart plastic jar screws easily into feed or water bases.
Price: $1.95
  Purple Chick Feeder Base This purple feeder base easily screws on to 1 Quart Jar.
Price: $4.95
  Red Chick Feeder Base This red feeder base easily screws on to 1 Quart Jar.
Price: $4.95
  Green Chick Feeder Base This green feeder base easily screws on to 1 Quart Jar.
Price: $4.95
  Yellow Chick Feeder Base This yellow feeder base easily screws on to 1 Quart Jar.
Price: $4.95
Chick Feeders When selecting a chick feeder, make sure you understand if it can be used for feed only or if it also works with water.
  64 oz chick feeder This cute 64 oz. can be set up to hold either feed or water.
Price: $9.95
  18 inch chick feeder This 18" red plastic slide top holds both feed and water.
Price: $4.95
  20 inch chick feeder This 20" red flip top feeder feeds up to 24 hungry chicks.
Price: $4.95
  12 inch chick feeder This 12" galvanized steel slide top feeder is great for up to 12 chicks.
Price: $3.95
  18 inch chick feeder This 18" galvanized slide top feeder is great for up to 20 chicks
Price: $4.95

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