What Do Baby Chickens Eat?

baby-chickens-eat Credit: Thomas Vlerick/CC-BY-2.0

Very young chickens need a lot of protein to grow; in most settings, they are given a high-protein feed specifically formulated for them, but in the wild they eat worms and seeds to fulfill their protein requirements. Chickens under five weeks old need food containing at least 19 percent protein.

From hatching until they are five weeks old, domestic chicks are fed chick crumbles. This kind of feed is approximately 20 percent protein and is often medicated to protect the chicks against coccidiosis, a gastrointestinal disease. Chicks also require insoluble grit to help them digest their food. Insoluble grit is any indigestible mineral able to break up swallowed food once it travels to the bird's gizzard. Coarse sand can be used as grit for very young chicks, but it becomes useless once they grow larger.