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What extras do chickens need?

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Im a pretty new chicken owner here. I have 3 chickens and one has just started laying(Yey) 

Aprart from their layer pellets and water, I give them grit and just leave it in a wee bowl. I also give them a handful of dried corn daily and as a treat mealworms. I obviously give them our leftover veg etc. 

I have nettex stuff which came in a kit and there is 

mineral boost 

vit boost +

herbal gut conditioner 

are these items required and do we need to give them to our chickens? 

Thanks 😊


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That question opens the doors to a big debate about need vs nice to have.

Chickens are pretty low maintenance, so all they really need from a responsible owner is somewhere secure to sleep and range, a plentiful food and water supply and good access to grit and calcium. Being animals, they do need a spot of medical attention every now and then, but that's largely down to periodic worming and jumping on typical chicken-related problems (red mite, for instance) when or before you see them (treatment and prevention). Anything over and above that is not strictly need.

Things are made easier still by suppliers since layers' pellets already contain the appropriate proportions of calcium and grit, and even then if chickens have the opportunity to grub around then they'll supplement their diet anyway. As a result, your dried corn, mealworms and leftover scraps definitely fall into the category of treats; not essential but a pleasant supplement.

If your chickens are getting all the above, mineral and vitamin boosts will do exactly the same as vitamin supplements for people i.e. probably nothing but might fill in a gap if a chicken is a wee bit under the weather, and will certainly do no harm. Gut conditioners can have some inhibiting effect on intestinal parasites and so on, thereby reducing the frequency that you actually have to worm the birds, but how marked the effect is will only be found out by experience. In all, it could range from a useful and effective supplement to a harmless waste of money, and your experience over time may well be different from that of another keeper.

I've found over my time of keeping chickens that it's easy to be dragged into the advertising, but eventually chickens are pretty good at looking after themselves as long as the basics are covered. You're doing the latter already, so you can relax now and experiment a bit.

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