As established by Bell and Weaver in 2002, ''during the past two centuries more than 300 breeds and varieties of chickens have been developed, however, few have survived commercialization and are used by modern chicken breeders.'' Commercially, laying hens are kept for the production of table eggs, and broiler breeder hens are kept to produce eggs for hatching baby chicks to grow for meat (broilers).

In order for hens to maintain maximum performance, they must receive a certain amount of each nutrient each day. Earlier, many producers offered their hens three or more ingredients in separate feeders. Hens had these feeds before them at all times. However, other producers felt they could do a better job meeting hens' needs by regulating the amount of grain and concentrate they were allowed each day.

As a result of much research, it was possible to establish the hen's requirement for each nutrient. With this knowledge, it is now possible for the nutritionist to combine various feedstuffs into one mash, which contains all of the nutrients that are needed. The mash feed gave good performance, and the mash grain system of feeding was no longer used.

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