As a beginner poultry farmer, making sense of the various types of the commercial poultry feeds can be a little confusing. You have probably heard of the chick mash, growers mash, finisher mash, post-finisher mash or layer’s mash. Or you have probably heard of the medicated versus unmedicated mash. The various kinds of jargon used in poultry feeds can be a bit confusing and overwhelming.
To figure out which is which, we have created a simple glossary of the various terms used in describing the various kinds of poultry feeds that can help you make sense of the constellation of terms used by manufacturers to label their processed poultry feed products.
Start Chicken Mash or “Starter Mash
The starter mash is the food for the baby chicks. It is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of the baby chicks and is therefore rich in protein. The starter feed should be fed to the baby chicks for the first six weeks of their lives before you graduate to the grower feed or grower’s mash.
The starter mash is a very protein-rich diet, usually containing 20% to 24% protein and will help your young chicks grow smoothly into healthy and happy pullets. Once the chicks are 6 weeks old, you may start phasing out the starter mash from their diet while transitioning them to the growers mash. Excessive protein causes liver damage.
The pashing out should be done gradually. Don’t make it abrupt otherwise this is going to interfere with the health of the birds. What you can do is to start mixing the starter and grower mash slowly over time, while increasing the proportion of the growers mash in the mixture over time until the diet is 100% made up of the grower’s mash.
Some manufacturers even make the work easier for you. They sell a starter-grower mash mixture that you can feed your chickens until they are 20 weeks old. If this makes things confusing, you can simply stick to the starter mash and then transition to grower mash as your chicks turn 6 weeks old. If you are unsure about the right type of poultry feed for your chicks, you can talk to a poultry expert to advise you accordingly.
Chicken Growers Mash
The growers mash can be described as the chicken feed for the “teenage” chickens. They have just come out of their chick phase and will be growing fast towards becoming adult birds. The nutritional or dietary requirements for a chicken that is aged between 6 and 20 weeks are vastly different from that of a chick that is aged below six weeks.
The protein content of the grower’s mash is generally between 16% and 18%. However, the grower’s mash has less calcium content than that of the regular layer’s feed. The grower’s feed is formulated to support the continued growth of the “teenage” chickens without bombarding their diet with too much minerals and vitamins which are generally more suited for the laying chickens. When the birds begin to lay eggs when they hit a particular point of lay age depending on their breed, you can begin feeding them the layers mash if they are layers.
Layer Chicken Feed
For most of your flock’s life their diet will predominantly consist of scrumptious layer feed. Layer feed has an ingenious balance of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals that encourages top tier egg laying abilities in your flock. Protein wise layer feed contains similar levels of protein to grower feed, around 16-18%, however has extra calcium to ensure that their eggshells are crisp, clean and crunchy. Feeding layer feed to baby chicks or young pullets however will not meet their unique dietary requirements. Layer feed should only be fed to chickens around 20 weeks of age or once they have started to lay eggs.
The Broiler Rations
The broiler rations are different from the layer rations. These are generally rich in proteins to make the birds grow extremely fast. They will typically have an 18% to 20% protein content. There are various kinds of grower rations such as the finisher and post finisher broiler mash. We will discuss these in the next article.