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Can Chicks and Chickens Eat Turkey Starter

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Chickens and turkeys are very different in many aspects. From their appearance and hierarchal positions to their life cycle, differences do exist between chickens and turkeys.

Similarly, the diet requirements of both birds are also very different. Although not being the ideal case, if you want to feed your chickens with turkey feed you may. Adding calcium to the feed can make it a little more suitable for chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Turkey Starter?

No matter what type of feed it is, it will surely attract several types of birds. When feeding your turkeys with turkey feed you will notice some chickens eating along as well.

Although the best diet for chickens is a specialized chicken feed, turkey feed can be given to them but is not highly recommended. Chickens’ diet must contain feed, vegetables, and fruits that are best for them.

There lie strict differences in the feed given to chickens and that of turkeys.

In accord with the higher protein demands of turkeys, their feed contains a higher percentage of protein.

While feed given to laying hens, in particular, contains around 15% of protein.

And if the chickens need a protein boost, then the percentage is raised to 20%. On the other hand, the feed is given particularly to turkeys normally contains around 25% protein.

If the chickens are getting this 10% extra protein in their diet, it isn’t necessary nor lethal. This higher intake of protein is equivalent to feeding chickens some extra meat along with their normal diet. This will not kill the chickens but still is not ideal for them either.

You must always remember the protein is the most important part of turkeys’ diet. Similarly, calcium is important for laying chickens.

Giving your chickens a diet ideal for turkeys and not supplementing the low levels of calcium can deteriorate your chickens’ health. You must give them additional calcium to promote proper health and egg-laying.

Hen and its yellow chicks eating from a small bowl on the farm

Can Baby Chicks Eat Turkey Starter?

Keeping it simple and straight, baby chicks should not be given a turkey starter.

Now, let’s have a look at the reason behind this statement. Chicks need only 20-22% protein in their diet. And similar amounts are found in the chick starter.

When chicks reach the age of 6 weeks, they must be fed a grower feed containing around 18% protein. These diets are specially designed for the chickens according to every growth stage. Not following these diets from an early age can cause problems later in life.

When examining a turkey starter diet, you will notice a lot of protein, which is suitable for baby turkeys. But if this high protein diet is administered to baby chicks it can be a huge problem. As this huge protein content is more than what they can digest, it will cause health issues later in life.

Chickens fed a high protein diet from early life stages can develop kidney and liver problems.

Differences Between Turkey Starter and Chicken Starter

Feeding the birds and feeding them the right type of diet is the most important part of raising poultry. The feed they intake will determine their productivity and the profitability of your poultry farm. These feeds can be in the form of pellets, crumbles, or mash.

The reason behind keeping the feed in the form of pellets is to reduce the particle size. Reduced particle size ensures easier eating and better absorption.

Like other birds, both chickens and turkeys have stages of growth and each stage has different nutritional requirements. Providing the right feed and proper management according to the growth stage will determine the health of your birds.

There are four types of feeds depending on the growth stage:

  • Starter
  • Grower
  • Finisher
  • Layer

These types are administered at different growth stages of the bird. Baby chicks or turkeys cannot have a grower or finisher. They have to have the starter feed, which is specially modified for this growth stage. All four types of these feeds are specially formulated for the proper physical and physiological growth of the bird.

A starter feed is the type of feed given to birds of age between one day old to four to six weeks. This comes with a very small particle size to ensure proper digestion and better absorption.

Woman hand full of wood pellets

Now let’s make a comparison between the chicken starter and turkey starter feed.

Chicken Starter

A chicken starter diet is the most nutritious diet specially modified for the best growth of baby chicks. It contains around 18-20% of crude protein depending on the type of chicken. Other than that it contains wheat, maize, different salts like sodium bicarbonate, amino acids, and limestone.

Baby chicks can feed on this diet easily until six weeks of age. This higher protein content will help the baby chicks grow into healthy pullets.

However, progressing the feed to the next stages with the growing chicks is very important. If the feed is not changed according to the growth stage of chicks it can also cause issues like liver damage.

Turkey Starter

Just like the chicken starter, the turkey starter is also a very nutritious formulation specially made for baby turkeys. It consists of around 28% of protein along with wheat, barley, soybean, canola, limestone, methionine, etc.

It is also enriched with vitamin A, D, E, K, and choline. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, copper, etc. are also added to this feed.

Turkeys require higher levels of proteins from an early stage. But giving these high levels of proteins to baby chicks is not good for their health. Although feeding turkey starter to baby chicks will not harm the chicks, it cannot be recommended at all.

Benefits of Starter Diet

A starter diet is very important for the good health of both the chickens and turkeys. It provides several health benefits to the bird including:

  • Proteins help support muscle growth and development.
  • Energy requirements for daily growth and development.
  • Fiber helps proper digestion which ensures better utilization.
  • Vitamins and minerals are important for the growth of the skeletal and nervous systems.


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