4 month old feeding tips?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by MedicMamma, May 28, 2017.

  1. MedicMamma

    MedicMamma Just Hatched

    Mar 19, 2017
    I am clueless but learning. I have 7 Rhode island reds (I think) and have had them from day old chicks. They are about 4 months old. Super friendly and appear very healthy. Their main feed is still the chick starter (pictures attached). I occasionally throw some left over lettuce. I don't know why but I am hesitant to throw any other scraps in. Am I doing it right? Suggestions?

    Attached Files:

  2. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Flock Master

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    Chick starter is formulated to be nutritionally complete. They look good in the pic.

    Problems usually come into play when they get fed to many treats or scraps.

    Keep the chick starter as the feed until they are actually laying.
    I do toss a bit of scratch out for mine to keep them busy. I only give very small amounts. I do give mine greens from the garden like radish tops and swiss chard. You can grow swiss chard in pots even. It helps keep the yolks dark yellow.

    Just remember moderation is the key.

    You are not doing it wrong. :thumbsup
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    Hi, welcome to BYC! :frow

    The feed is fine. Lettuce doesn't have much nutrients and my free range birds don't care too much for it either. But I still put out the extra. Other scraps are fine such as watermellon or cantalope rinds, broccoli, peas, cucumber, squash, strawberry tops, tomato tops... even chicken and eggs. :drool Note since my birds free range and have access to the garden, I have no true control over what they eat. And I put my compost out to their area every day. And some things like their access to peaches, apples and plums are seasonal. Treats should be kept to less than 10% of their total daily intake. I don't count my garden items in that, again because it's part of their range.

    But as 21 hens says, balance is key. :old

    At 4 months I would probably make oyster shell available on the side. Which is actually all I do anyways. Since I have all ages and genders in my flock I feed a flock raiser with 20% protein (for chicks) and OS on the side for layers. If you switch to layer... just make sure you don't diminish your protein level with the garden and scraps as the 16% in layer is the minimum suggested to maintain good health in layers. If you provide OS on the side... you can feed any unmedicated starter, or flock raiser that you like if you don't want to switch to layer. The only thing layer has that others don't is the OS mixed in usually at a rate of about 4-5%.

    It's good that you are hesitant to throw out extra "treats"! :clap If more people were like that they would have less flock behavior and health issues.

    Note *sometimes* new layers will lay a soft egg or they may even practice in the box but not lay an egg the first time or so. A soft egg does not have to mean lack of calcium and often doesn't. Layers just coming in or out of lay will sometimes have a softee just as part of the system getting up and running and working out the hiccups. A hen will usually use up their own calcium before you see soft eggs for that reason. Sometimes the softee will be laid out in the yard or while they are sleeping. It isn't a reason to panic. OS doesn't go directly to eggs anyways. It is absorbed by the hen into the keel bone which then distributes it to the shell gland.

    If you do switch to layer once you start getting eggs, the birds won't go through that much OS. When I used layer a 50# bag of OS lasted me more than 2 years with only 3 birds. So in that instance it might be worth it to buy the small bag. Now my flock has at least 15-30 layers depending on season and a 50# bag lasted not quite a year but is much better price than small bags and I need it available at all times since I don't use layer. Every situation is different, and there is no perfect way. Make the best decision you can and switch it up if you find it isn't working. :)

    Oh and I should mention.. if you have time to consider fermenting your feed, it does save a little cash (10% for me), increases nutrient absorption... and a biggie, decreases the nastiness of the poo smell! :sick It's as simple as mixing feed and water, stirring once a day and serving out after about 3 days. Check the link in my signature line and feel free to ask questions. Highly recommended! ;) I've been doing it about 1 year and never had to throw any out for mold (peoples biggest fear).

    You must be getting exited for your first egg to be coming soon! Waiting is so hard. :barnie:pop
    AuntChickie, MedicMamma and Mace Gill like this.
  4. barneveldrerman

    barneveldrerman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Personally I would have switched the chickens to grower feed at 10 weeks of age. Then near 18 weeks of age I would either keep them on grower feed and give them oyster shells on the side or switch them to layer feed. As for treats I wouldn't give them much until they get older. A few treats will not hurt them. Lettuce does not have much if any nutritional value for chickens.

    Hope this helped, and feel free to ask more questions!!!:)
    MedicMamma and Mace Gill like this.
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    I think your info is pretty good. :)

    I used to live in the central valley, you must be feelin' the heat by now. :plbb I'm just teasing! We worked really hard to move and finally made it to the north coast... almost 25 years later. Try to stay cool. :cool:

    I will just add that with so many labels and different formulas it can be confusing. I see the OP says starter/grower but is ONLY 18% protein (in the pic). I try to start mine on 20-22% usually for chicks, then 18-20% grower, and eventually 16% layer. Each brand will have their own recommendations.

    To me 18% seems low to start chicks. So I probably wouldn't go lower than that until time to switch to layer. I actually have a reference for feeding values. Note one typo says 5% and should be 15%.. And it even list RIR specifically.. :)

    One last thing... anything you are told at the feed store, I suggest you get a second opinion. The well meaning employees are OFTEN inexperienced with actual farm animals and sadly misinformed. Oh the horror stories! Owners will sometimes know a little more. And just because your friend or neighbor does this or that for years on end, doesn't mean it's right. Their expectations/situation may be different than yours. You seem to be on the right track though. ;)
    MedicMamma likes this.

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