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Breakfast of Champion Chicks

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Start your babies off right with this Breakfast of Champion Chicks recipe.

Baby chicks need a steady balanced diet of good-quality chick feed to ensure that they are getting the proper nutrients during their first few weeks of life.

It stands to reason that a scientifically formulated, balanced chick feed is what they should be eating to ensure optimal health, especially when they're young.

But after watching newly hatched chicks trail around after a mother hen, nibbling at grass, grains, seeds and weeds, scratching through the dirt and eating bugs and worms, I believe that adding some nutritious supplements to the diet of all chicks - but especially those being raised in a brooder indoors - can be extremely beneficial for optimal health and growth.

In general, I believe that mimicking what happens in nature is usually the best course when raising backyard chickens.

Natural Baby Chick Diet

When chicks are hatched in the coop under a mother hen, she'll lead them outside at just a few days old and show them what's good to eat and what's not.

The little ones race around gobbling up all kinds of bugs and worms, munching happily on weeds and grass, and scratching in the dirt. I've even seen days old baby chicks pulling small worms out of the earth!

It stands to reason that this varied diet is healthy for them, so brooder babies raised indoors in a plastic tote deserve that same variety in their diet. 

I've raised dozens of chicks and I find that those I supplement with a few things are much more energetic and healthy than those I don't.

The supplements are great for the mother hen too since she's not been eating as much as she should during the incubation period - so the added nutrients help her get back in tip-top shape as well.

Another reason I feel more comfortable adding some nutritious supplements to my chick's diet and letting them spend time outside looking for their own food is that even the largest, most well-known feed companies occasionally have recalls. 

One chicken feed company not too long ago had a pretty major recall of its chick feed because it was too high in calcium. Other recalls have happened due to insufficient levels of various vitamins and nutrients which can lead to curled toes and other abnormalities in chicks. 

So you can't always rely on a feed company to actually be balanced. By diluting your chicks' diet with some natural grasses, weeds, herbs and seeds, you might actually be doing them a huge favor!

Breakfast of Champion Chicks

I make a custom mix that I call the Breakfast of Champion Chicks which I feed to all my baby chicks - and ducklings.

(It's a variation of my Breakfast of Champion Layers that I feed daily to my laying hens and ducks. That recipe can be found HERE.)

By getting the chicks used to the various tastes, that helps them acclimate to the layer feed mix I serve to my adult flock, and also lets their bodies adapt to the supplements right from the start.

Plus I'm supplying them essential immune and respiratory system boosts to keep them healthy without vaccinations or medicated feed.

So What's In the Breakfast of Champion Chicks?

The ingredients I use for my Breakfast of Champion Chicks are:

Probiotic powder (buy here) - aids in digestion, boosts good bacteria in the intestine, supports the immune system, reduces ammonia levels in the poop, reduces chance of contracting salmonella or e.coli.

Brewer's Yeast and Garlic powder (buy here) - garlic boosts immune system, aids in respiratory health and Brewer's yeast is important for strong bone growth, especially for ducklings.

Sea Kelp (buy here) - thought to reduce the incidence of coccidiosis in baby chicks, sea kelp also is a prebiotic which improves probiotic activity in the digestive system.

Raw rolled oats (buy here) - antioxidant, helps prevent and alleviate pasty butt in chicks, provides protein, fiber and nutrients, supports immune system health. 

I mix all the add-ins in roughly equal amounts and then sprinkle a bit on top of the chick feed each time I refill the dish and mix it up with my fingers.

I make the feed mix available to the baby chicks 24/7 for the first 8 weeks of their life, at which time I switch to starter/grower feed (and still sprinkle the mix on top).

By 18 weeks, the little ones are nearly at POL (point of lay) and can switch to layer feed. Here's a handy feed guide for the life of your hens for you to bookmark - it will take your little ones from chick to laying hen with suggestions for supplements, type of feed and healthy treats.

Treats for Chicks

I also do feed limited treats to the baby chicks. For the first few weeks, I try to stick with oatmeal, scrambled eggs, dried grubs and chopped weeds and herbs for them, because I feel these are the most natural, most nutritious "treats" you can offer them. 

Remember, you also need to provide grit for the chicks to help them digest - I put out a dish of coarse dirt for them and also love to put a whole clumps of dirt and grass right in the brooder with them.

That keeps them entertained, allows them to practice nibbling on grass, scratching for seeds and bugs and also introduces some of the pathogens found outdoors in the environment to them to start to build strong immune systems.

Some of the best herbs for your baby chicks are:


Basil
Cilantro
Dill
Oregano
Parsley
Sage

Beverage of Champion Chicks?

Adding a few drops of organic apple cider vinegar with the mother to your chicks' water also helps immune, digestive and respiratory health, combats coccidiosis, balances pH levels in the body, aids in the absorption of nutrients - just be sure not to use a metal waterer because the vinegar will eventually rust it.

Adding these few natural (and nutritious) supplements to your chicks' diet should result in a far healthier, hardier flock for you and your family to enjoy for years to come!



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References/Sources:
Apple Cider Vinegar Reference Articles:
http://www.rd1.com/lifestyle/poultry-articles/apple-cider-vinegar-garlic-and-poultry
http://poultrykeeper.com/health-suppliments/apple-cider-vinegar
http://keeping-chickens.me.uk/what-to-keep-in-stock/apple-cider-vinegar
http://www.eden-livestock.co.uk/apple_cider_vinegar_article.htm

Garlic Reference Articles:
http://www.flytesofancy.co.uk/chickenhouses/Garlic_Granules.html 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981119073115.htm 
http://www.brokenearth.org/wildgarlic/ 
http://www.ehow.com/how_2119606_use-garlic-treat-internal-parasites.html 

http://us.petvalu.com/health-nutrition/dr-dave/articles/understanding-garlic

Probiotic Reference Articles:
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2009/090501.htm
http://poultryone.com/articles/probiotics-html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812824/
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