What Do Chickens Eat?


Wayne Farms - What Do Chickens Eat? - Wayne Farms LLC diet-of-chicken-tile

Everything you need to know about the diet of a chicken.

One of the most common questions we receive at Wayne Farms is what we feed our chickens. It’s understandable that consumers and buyers alike are interested in every aspect of a chicken’s diet, so we’ve broken down how we approach chicken nutrition at Wayne Farms.

Six basic nutrients

Human beings require six basic nutrients for a healthy diet — proteins, carbohydrates, fats, water, vitamins and minerals. Chickens are no different. At Wayne Farms, we have a dedicated staff of nutritionists whose goal is to ensure each chicken receives the nutrients necessary to live a healthy life.

One of the ways our nutritionists achieve their goal of keeping our chickens healthy is by analyzing feed ingredients. We keep the feed high quality and simple, with ingredients such as corn, soybean meal and grains. Our nutritionists study how each ingredient is contributing to chicken health. 

Chicken feed options

We want our buyers and consumers to have options, and we have different types of feeds available based on customer requests. Because some consumers are requesting chickens raised without antibiotics, some of our feeds do not contain antibiotics, almost 50% at this point. We adhere to all regulations, and any medications we give the chickens are approved and recommended by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Of course even if they are given antibiotics for an illness, all our birds are tested to ensure they are antibiotic free when they are processed.

Wayne Farms Everything You Need to Know about the Diet of a ChickenTo supplement our vegetarian chickens’ nutrients, we’ve developed a feed using grain-based proteins, in addition to B-vitamins and amino acids. This adjusted feed is completely healthy for our chickens and has no negative side effects. No matter our customers’ choice, we strive to ensure all our chickens are healthy.

Chicken growth = feed change

A chicken’s diet needs to change as it gets older. Early on, chicks need higher amounts of amino acids and proteins. Their caloric intake is smaller when they’re young. At this stage, their digestion is the most efficient, so lower caloric intakes are necessary to ensure their energy is well maintained and doesn’t experience spikes.

Older chickens require higher calorie counts, lower proteins and less amino acid density. Their feed intake increases, and they are better at maintaining their energy since their growth is slower. Because of these differences, our nutritionists have a set plan of feed types throughout a chicken’s entire life cycle.

Feeding frequency

Traditional feeding regimens are to feed fully-grown chickens every other day, but we recently began the process began of switching all our regimens to everyday feedings. With this new strategy, we establish a more consistent routine that reduces chicken stress and increases livability, including intestinal health.

We work together to make proactive decisions regarding chicken health. The entire team keeps a watch on our chickens’ nutrition health, including diets and feeding routines, to produce the healthiest chickens possible.

Wayne Farms - A Guide to Raising Chickens


Have more questions about chicken health?

Check out our animal welfare section