Nutritional Requirements of Chickens

The basic requirements for an optimal and well-balanced poultry diet are water, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, fats, minerals, and vitamins.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss why they are needed in poultry diet.


Water is an essential nutrient for chickens. The amount of water required for adequate health and productivity depends on the temperature where the chickens are kept, the growth rate or level of egg production of chickens and their ability to reabsorb water through the kidneys. Make sure that water is available most especially to baby chicks as their bodies are about 79 percent water. They cannot drink too much water so they have to drink often.

Water deprivation for more than 12 hours has a negative effect on chickens’ growth and egg production.


Dietary carbohydrates are important sources of energy for chickens.  Corn, wheat, and other cereal grains are main carbohydrate component for most poultry diets.

Certain types of dietary carbohydrates aren’t easily digested by poultry, so it’s always best to add appropriate enzyme preparations to supplement diets of rye or barley and improve the nutrient absorption in a non-starch based diet.

If such diets aren’t properly supplemented, they’ll contribute very little to meeting the energy requirements of your flock.Image result for chicken feeds

Protein and Amino Acids

The dietary requirements for protein are actually requirements for the amino acids found in dietary protein.

Chickens use amino acids to make protective tissue such as skin, feathers, bones, and ligaments. Amino acids also help form soft tissues, including the organs and muscles, and play an important role in metabolizing feed into energy.

Failure to provide adequate protein on your bird’s diet will result in a number of structural and health problems for your flock, as well as reducing yield of meat or eggs.


When added to the feed, fat increases overall energy concentration, and thereby improve productivity and feed efficiency. All feed fats should be stabilized by an antioxidant to preserve unsaturated fatty acids.

Corn is a good source of fat as it mostly contains unsaturated fat.


Minerals are the inorganic parts of feed or tissues.

They are required for various functions within the bird. For example, calcium and phosphorous are vital in the formation of the skeleton, and sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride function to stabilize the pH levels throughout the body.

Growing birds use calcium for their skeletons while hens use calcium for formation of eggshells.

Backyard producers often use oyster shells or ground limestone to add calcium to their flock’s diet.


Vitamins are normally classified under two different categories – fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K; and water-soluble vitamins, including the B-complex and vitamin C.

Vitamin A precursors known as carotenoids supply nutrients to the gives the golden yellow yolk that consumers demand from their eggs.

Vitamin C isn’t usually required as an additional dietary supplement for chickens as it’s already synthesized by them. However, it has been suggested that chickens under stress respond well to its addition in the diet.

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