When baby chicks are young, feeding them couldn’t be simpler. Just chick starter for the first 8-12 weeks of its development.
But, when your chicks grow into hens and roosters, their dietary needs diversify, particularly because roosters grow much bigger and stronger, and hens start laying eggs.
This begs the question, can hens and roosters actually eat the same feed, even if it’s layer pellets or a layer seed mix?
Look no further. Here’s whether roosters can eat layer feed, if you can feed your roosters and hens together, and what you need to be sure of when feeding your rooster.
Can Roosters Eat Layer Feed?
Layer feed, either layer pellets or a layer pellet-seed mix, is specifically formulated to contain all the essential nutrients a laying hen needs (though not all chickens like to eat layer pellets).
Effectively it’s made to keep your chickens healthy and to maximize egg-laying volumes and quality.
But of course, roosters don’t lay eggs. Plus they’re bigger and have very different habits and duties, so is it OK for roosters to eat layer feed?
In short, roosters require more protein and less calcium than hens. But, the additional calcium content in layer pellets or layer feed will not be harmful to your rooster. Although too much calcium in chickens can lead to problems, the amount in layer feed is nowhere close to causing harm to roosters or hens.
It’s said that roosters should be fed up to 18% protein, and laying hens should be between 16-18% depending on their age, with younger hens requiring more. So the difference in protein requirements is minimal.
For these reasons, it’s completely OK for roosters to eat layer feed. Check to see the protein content of your layer pellets or layer seed mix. If it’s 18% then it will be meeting both roosters and hens requirements. If it’s 16% then you may wish to add a bit more protein into your rooster’s diet.
Can You Feed Roosters And Hens Together?
Just to be clear, it’s completely OK to simply feed roosters and hens all together, using the same food and the same feeder. Just be sure the food you are giving your hens and roosters contains enough calcium for the laying hens, and enough protein for your roosters, with a minimum of 16%.
Because of the pecking order, your rooster will always be one of the first to feed, but so long as there is enough food for all your chickens then there is no risk of feeding them altogether.
If your roosters are only consuming 16% protein instead of the recommended 18%, they may simply eat more food to get their fill or use their free-ranging time wisely and will eat while they are foraging.
If you still feel your roosters aren’t getting enough protein you can always try to supplement protein into their diets with high-protein chicken-safe foods, or high protein bird feeds like game bird feed.
What To Feed Your Roosters
If you are raising several roosters on their own (good luck to you!) then you may be wondering what you should feed them.
Of course, since roosters don’t lay eggs they won’t need layer feed, as they simply won’t need that much calcium or other minerals and nutrients that help in egg-laying.
So, although roosters CAN eat layer feed, whether it’s layer pellets or a layer seed mix, you can choose to feed your rooster’s flock raiser instead. Flock raiser is normally for roosters, both for the purpose of raising meat birds, but also simply for normal backyard roosters!
Flock raiser offers your roosters a formulated mix of everything they need, with adequate amounts of calcium, without going overboard, and protein at 18%.
Of course, if you do simply feed your rooster’s layer feed, you can supplement their normal diet with high protein snacks to ensure they are getting enough of everything they need.
High protein foods your roosters can eat include things like flax seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, and you can offer them preservative-free meats or even scrambled eggs! As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid processed foods with preservatives, such as hot dogs, taco meat, or fast foods like McDonald’s.
So, next time you’re at tractor supply or your local farming store and you see bags of layer pellets or layer feeds, remember, both roosters and hens can eat it safely.
Although it’s always a touch more expensive, if you’re feeding roosters and hens together try to get a mix with at least 16-18% protein content.
If you are feeding your roosters anything less than 18% protein, you may wish to supplement their normal feed with small amounts of additional protein.
Still, it’s completely safe for roosters to eat layer feed, and it’s even considered healthy for them as their main source of food.