What is a starter feed?
Feed newly hatched chicks a starter diet until they are about 6 weeks old. Starter diets are formulated to give proper nutrition to fast growing baby chickens. These feeds usually contain between 18 and 20 percent protein and approximately 1340 M.E. calories per pound. During the third week, begin every day controlled feeding, giving no more than eight pounds per 100 birds. During the fourth week, increase the feed to a maximum of 10 pounds per 100 birds and begin every-other-day feeding. After the birds have consumed the starter feed change to the grower ration, with 15% to 16 percent protein. The energy level may vary from 1345 M.E. calories to 1360 M.E. calories per pound during the summer and winter. As the birds approach the eleventh week, it may be necessary to reduce the rate of weekly feed increases.
It is not necessary to feed "meat bird starter" to young layer chickens. Diets formulated for starting meat chickens are higher in protein (22 percent) to maximize growth.