Do chickens need a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement?
The backyard chicken coop today has many advantages compared to the past. The modern chicken keeper has access to a wealth of scientific information, not to mention the added benefits of cutting edge feed and supplements.
Thanks to research funded by the commercial poultry industry , we know how much energy, protein and fibre our chickens should consume each day. And we know exactly how much of each vitamin and mineral is needed for healthy and productive hens.
Whether you keep your poultry in a chicken coop or have free-range hens, it is likely they will benefit from adding a vitamin and mineral supplement to their diet.
Interesting fact: Chickens require different levels of nutrients depending on age, breed, diet and living conditions. They even have slightly different needs depending on whether they lay white or brown eggs!
Most backyard chickens benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements:
The smart chicken keeper feeds their poultry a “complete” feed. Manufacturers scientifically formulate these feeds to contain everything that a chicken needs to thrive. Complete feeds such as Showbird Breeder MP contain all necessary vitamins and minerals. However, a feed is only “complete” if it is the only thing your chickens eat.
Complete feeds were originally developed for the commercial poultry industry. But the life of a healthy, happy backyard chicken is very different from a commercial layer. As such, complete feeds do not work in the same way for backyard chickens.
|Commercial Hens||Backyard Chickens||Considerations|
Not very active
|Free range or large run
Active birds require more energy
Birds that forage consume more roughage
Up to 10 years
Higher levels of nutrients may be needed to maintain essential stores over a longer life span
Complete feed only
Forage greens and insects if free rangingWeeds, grass clippings, healthy treats etc.
Additional food dilutes the nutrient content of complete feed
Use scraps as a treat only
Hens are healthier and happier if they are allowed to free-range. Free ranging is great for hens as it encourages natural behaviours like foraging. Chickens also enjoy foods like corn on the cob and heads of cabbage. Greens and vegetables provide essential roughage and are their natural foods.
Chickens enjoy kitchen scraps as well, but these are not as healthy as vegetables or greens. Therefore you should keep scraps as a treat only.
Any addition to a chicken’s diet, whether through scraps or free-range foraging, dilutes the effectiveness of a complete feed. The more you add other food into a complete feed diet, the less feed is consumed and the less likely your birds are to meet their daily nutrient requirements.
If at this point you are still asking, "Do Chickens need a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement?" keep reading.
So, if your chickens are eating anything other than their feed (and greens or forage definitely add to their health and happiness) then they are not really eating a complete diet. That’s why we recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement. Using a low dose supplement daily boosts nutrition for your hens and ensures they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that they need.
Poor nutrition can cause chicken health problems
In our 10+ years of working with backyard chicken keepers, we have noticed one thing: Many of the health problems that present in a backyard flock can be avoided by feeding a balanced diet.
Small variations in diet, along with any sort of stress (e.g. illness, moulting, extreme temperatures etc.), can stop chickens from getting all of the vitamins and minerals that they need. If one nutrient is deficient, this can prevent birds from absorbing or utilising other nutrients.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies compromise a bird’s health long before they present any noticeable symptoms. Often, deficiencies contribute to the emergence of other health problems, particularly, intestinal parasites like worms and coccidiosis.
Signs of vitamin and mineral deficiency in chickens:
- Poor laying
- Stunted growth
- Poor feathering or feather condition
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Decreased immunity to parasites, illness and disease
Deficiency can be avoided through the regular use of a vitamin and mineral supplement to complement your complete feed.
Think twice about grain mix:
We recommend you use feeds in a pellet or mash form. Many backyard chicken keepers prefer a grain mix due to the cost. Grain mixes do look good – like muesli – but the variety encourages chickens to eat their favourite morsels, such as the corn and sunflower seeds. The negative of this eating behaviour is that they miss out on a complete diet and the benefits of the essential nutrients it contains.
Grain mixes are sometimes marketed as complete feeds and fortified with additional vitamins, minerals and protein in the form of pellets or powder. However, because birds selectively feed, they don’t usually eat enough of the pellets and powdered additions often sink to the bottom and are wasted.
For backyard chicken keepers who feed their birds a grain mix, providing a vitamin and mineral supplement is absolutely essential. A vitamin and mineral supplement is an affordable way to enhance the health and well-being of your chooks.
Trust Dine A Chook Mega Mineral
Backyard chicken keepers around Australia trust in Mega Mineral by Dine A Chook. The scientific formula contains the essential vitamins and minerals that chickens need to thrive. Our all-inclusive supplement also helps keep egg production running smoothly.
The vitamins and minerals in feeds aren’t always easy for chickens to absorb. Mega Mineral contains sea minerals in a chelated form that is bioavailable and improves absorption. For us, Mega Mineral is the perfect addition to a diet of pelleted, complete feed complemented by free-range foraging.
So the question of "Do Chickens need a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement?" is pretty clear. If you care about your chooks, a nutrient-rich supplement is a great way to improve their overall health, immunity and longevity.