Chickens Choose Cheap Feed

Remember the recent article on how cattle and bison are better at mixing their own feed than the people who try to do it for them? Well it turns out that chickens are better at it too! In a SARE funded study, Dr. Anne Fanatico of Appalachian State University compared feed costs and weight gain of organic meat chickens when one group was fed a fully formulated diet (FF) and another "free-choice" (C) group that was allowed to choose between a high-protein feed and grain. Chickens were raised in houses with access to a grassy yard during the day and were processed on day 64 of the project. The organic, fully formulated diet had 21% crude protein. The free-choice chicks were started on formulated feed as well as high-protien and grain through day 27 of the project.  After that they had a high protein feed and grain available to them.  The choice diet had 13.2% crude protein for days 28 - 34 and  12% crude protein for the last week of feeding. The chickens raised on the fully formulated diet did gain more weight over all, but there was no difference in weight gain during the grower finisher period. Although carcass weights and breast fillet weights were heavier for the FF birds, there was no difference in yields (carcass, breast, wing, or leg) between the treatments. Where things were different was in cost and feed efficiency. The Choice diet was

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One thought on “Chickens Choose Cheap Feed

  1. Where it is available (or if you are allowed by regulation to grow it yourself), I would suggest industrial hemp seed for chicks. We don’t produce meat birds but it is a very high quality food for chicks after about the first week. I suggest feeding free-choice with other options of course.

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