Can You Overfeed Baby Chicks?

Chickens are known to be voracious eaters, and their babies learn this way of life too, simply by watching their mother hen. It’s quite funny really, a baby chick’s appetite can make new owners a little concerned, as these little baby chicks seem to eat at every opportunity they get!

The concern is that you may be actually overfeeding your chicks. But is this even possible? I mean, they are young, surely they need that much food to grow.

This is a common question amongst new and experienced chick owners, and here we are going to squash any concerns that might creep into your mind about baby chicks eating habits.

Here’s whether you can overfeed baby chicks, how to monitor their eating habits, what to feed them, and how often to feed them!

Can You Overfeed Chicks?

The first 8 weeks of a baby chick’s life are arguably the most crucial in terms of development. During this time baby chicks need a protein-rich and nutrient-dense diet. Up to 20% protein in fact.  

Because of how vulnerable baby chicks are at this stage of development it’s recommended to always feed your chickens specially formulated chick starter. This is because it’s equally proportioned with exactly what a baby chick needs to grow healthily.

As long as you are sticking to a normal chick starter feed you will not be able to overfeed your chicks. You can serve them as much as you like, and even let them have free access to a feeder throughout the day to help themselves. At this age, it’s always better to feed them too much than not enough.

The only way you can overfeed your chicks is if you feed them too many other foods such as fruits, vegetables, or grains. They will fill up on this other food, and usually not consume enough of their balanced chick starter. This means they are at risk of not consuming enough protein or other minerals to grow healthily, i.e. become malnourished. 

For this reason, it’s recommended to feed your baby chicks only chick starter until they are at least 8 weeks old. From there you can begin to introduce small amounts of safe table scraps for baby chicks, like carrot or rolled oats for example.

Do I Need To Monitor My Baby Chicks Eating?

Baby chicks by themselves usually won’t overfeed, but they can sometimes underfeed themselves. This is much more consequential to your chicken’s overall health too.

So, it’s important to monitor each of your baby chicks eating habits to make sure they are eating enough. If you have a few chicks that are anxious or shy, try feeding them in a separate location to the rest of your peep of chicks.

Even from a week old chicks will begin forming the pecking order. This will mean that some baby chicks get priority, while others have to wait their turn. For this reason, it can be a good idea to have multiple feeders available for your baby chicks.

How Often Should You Feed Baby Chicks

Baby chicks don’t have a set breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal. In fact, some chicks will feed only a few times a day, others will constantly go back to the feeder for more.

Still, in order to better keep a track of your baby chicks’ eating habits, it’s recommended to structure your feeding times. If you have the time and attention then you can feed your baby chicks up to four times a day. 

Otherwise, you can feed your baby chicks in the morning and at night, leaving some food in the feeders throughout the day.

Can You Keep The Feeder In The Coop?

Since baby chicks won’t overindulge and overfeed on chick starter there is no risk to the health of your chicks by leaving the feeder in the coop, during the day or overnight. 

This will also make sure all of your chicks have access to enough food to help them grow well and healthily. But, keeping the feeder in your coop for your baby chicks is completely optional, as you can feed them regularly throughout the day.

However, it may be more likely to attract rodents or insects if there is available food for them all the time. Plus, much like chickens, baby chicks won’t tend to drink at night or eat for that matter, so it’s not necessary to leave extra feed in the coop overnight.

Can Baby Chicks Be Overweight?

It’s well known that chickens can be overweight, and in some cases, it can lead to health issues or stress for your chickens – particularly in the heat!

Luckily, it is far more unlikely that your baby chicks will become overweight, particularly from overeating! They simply know when they’ve had enough, and quite frankly they go through enough energy throughout the day.

If your chickens do seem a bit, erm… rounder than you thought, it’s totally fine. When they grow into pullets their proportions will even out.

Wrapping Up

The first time I raised baby chicks I was quite anxious, so I get what you’re going through. Constantly thinking about their health and wellbeing. But really, it’s not so bad. Simply make sure they have plenty of access to food and water, feed them formulated chick starter or grower, and you won’t be able to overfeed your baby chicks.

It is still worth scheduled meals for them, mainly so that you can observe each of them and make sure they are eating enough. But normally, so long as you feed them their chick starter as their main diet they will get all the nutrients they need, and any extra doesn’t usually harm them!

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