14 week old pullets - what feed to buy?

dftkarin

Songster
11 Years
Jun 27, 2008
332
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I have a dilemma, my 4 pullets are 14 weeks old and I'm about out of feed so I was hoping to buy a 25 lb bag of grower (medicated or unmedicated) but all my local feed stores only sell 50 lb bags of feed. Since I only have 4 chickens, 50 lbs will last me too long - way past when they will need layer feed. I shouldn't start them on layer feed yet though, right? Because the calcium could hurt them and it might not have the right percentage of protein? What should I do?

The closest feed store sells organic Green Mountain feed for $25/50lb bag, is that a lot more expensive than other places?
 
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digitS'

Songster
12 Years
Dec 12, 2007
2,119
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ID/WA border
I looked without success around the poultry science websites to see if they say that pullets may go on laying feed at 14 weeks. It seems quite unlikely that you would get that kind of formula advice from folks who are more knowledgeable. I do know that there are some (maybe quite a few) that say the 3% calcium layer diet prior to laying is fine, "There is an indication with Leghorns that feeding adult layer diets for 10-12 weeks prior to maturity can adversely affect kidney function, especially if birds are also challenged with infectious bronchitis. However feeding "extra" calcium for one or two weeks prior to maturity has no such effect." Ministry of Agriculture - Ontario

The question would be, are your pullets likely to lay within 2 weeks and I think the answer would have to be - no.

I'd buy the grower feed (non-medicated). Also, I'd get some oyster shell and start putting it out for the birds about a month from now. And, I would go ahead and lower the protein levels of their diet with the addition of healthful additional foods like a few fresh vegetables. In fact, this is exactly what I'm doing for my 19 week-old pullets.

Steve
 

dftkarin

Songster
11 Years
Jun 27, 2008
332
1
141
Thanks - that is what I'll do. Is there anything dangerous about not reducing the protein percentage as pullets get closer to laying age? My girl free range around the back yard for at least a few hours every day and I do give them kitchen veggi scraps and oats already. Does keeping the high protein make them start laying before there bodies are ready?
 

LilRalphieRoosmama

Officially Quacked
12 Years
Oct 15, 2007
3,406
19
221
Elyria, OH
Mine are 18 weeks and are on the starter/grower. I read not to put them on the layer until they are actually laying because it could damage their kidneys. Not sure of the facts but that's what I'm doing.
 

digitS'

Songster
12 Years
Dec 12, 2007
2,119
23
201
ID/WA border
Quote:As I understand it, that's the concern and why they take them from a 20% protein diet to one of about 14% as they near maturity.

With the free-ranging and a few things from the kitchen, there's probably every reason to believe that they are getting what they need (including good exercise) and not too much of what they don't need.
.

Steve
 

Tuffoldhen

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jan 30, 2007
7,502
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301
WV
I keep all my pullets on starter/Grower til they start laying then switch them all over to the layer feed.

Older hens can even be fed the starter/grower if you have already put your pullets into the henhouse til they are all laying just keep a feeder with oyster shell out at all times for calcium intake. Hens will pick at oyster shell if they need it, I have never seen pullets head to a oyster shell feeder at my house. It is the calcium in layer feeds I have been told that causes kidney problems in to young a pullet when they are still growing.
 
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Wynette

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Sep 25, 2007
25,574
193
421
Michigan
It's not a problem for them to stay on grower until past POL. I do what Tuffoldhen does; mine are typically on grower until one from that bunch begins to lay, then I switch to layer feed.

This year, I had such varying ages in one pen (and I had no option of moving any), I switched from grower to Purina's Flock Raiser when the youngest was 8 weeks of age. I'm extremely pleased with the results, and have decided to leave a dish of the Flock Raiser in each pen, even though they're all now laying. So, they have access to both feeds. I have had no issues with this, and interestingly, the cockerels eat the Flock Raiser, but not the layer pellets. I think they will eat what their body needs for the most part. I do not put oyster shell out until they begin to lay.
 

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