9 week old chicks eating the layer food


11 Years
Sep 13, 2008
Clinton, Washington
I'm new to Backyard chickens and new to chickens. Started in April of this year with babies, I have 5 favorelles, 4 chanteclers, 3 americaunas, 2 barred hollands, 2 jersey giants, 3 silver lakenvelders. And I repeat I'm brand new at this, so in July, I obtained 5 buckeyes, 5 speckled sussex and 5 welsummers. I have a very knowledgeable person at the local farm and garden star and she has helped a lot. I never asked whether it was a good idea to get the second group of chickens or not. I never gave it any thought about how to integrate these two groups. I keep learning. They are now mixing together without problems, the little ones are able to get away from the big ones if needed. However, some of the young ones seem to like the layer food better than the grower food!!!!! I feed them both organic and supplement with vegetables from the garden, they get a little scratch once a day. I was going to raise the older chics' feeder higher, but the buckeyes and sussex are already as tall as the lakenvelders.

Is it harmful for the young ones, who are 9 weeks old, to be eating layer food, instead of grower?

And I please let me know if I should put this post in a different area?
I would think they could be getting too much protein from the layer pellets.
My 16 week old pullets have been seen sneaking into the older girls coop during free range time and sneaking pellets. They will be on the pellets in a couple of weeks too, but I shoo them away when I see them.
Hope you get your answer.
Actually they are not getting enough protein! Layer food does not have enough protein for the young ones to grow, and I hear that with all the extra calcium in Layer food could cause kidney damage in the young ones...
I don't generally go for following a lot of rules with chickens, as the whole beauty of them is how they survive and thrive in every climate, on every ration. But layer feed is what we humans give chickens to make them lay more than wild chickens would. If given too young, it does all kinds of bad stuff, mostly due to the xtra calcium. The calcium is there to strengthen shells, and if the pullet aint layin', the calcium has nowhere to go.

This kind of imbalance is just as bad in chickens as it is in people and can lead to all kinds of organ failure.

That said, my pullet s have often gotten some, too. Tastes and snacks won't hurt 'em, but it shouldn't be a major part of their diet. I's like having a couple sips of dad's coffee, versus installing an espresso maker in the playpen!

edited because even my chickens can type better than me.
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Do your babies have free range access? Our babies usually go in with the bigger chickens and eat layer food at about 8-9 weeks. We haven't had any trouble, but of course, they are able to eat grass, bugs, etc. which might help increase the protein and decrease the calcium that they get from the layer food.
Having them all on Starter or grower is the best way to go IMO. That way you know no one is getting hurt with extra calcium, not enough protein and all that mumbo jumbo... Just have some Oyster Shell available to your other hens so they can still have their calcium when needed.
You could mix the layer w/starter grower and be sure to have some oyster shell in a bowl free choice for the older girls to eat. The babies just ignore the oyster shell until they are ready for it. OR just feed the starter grower to them all with available oyster shell for the older girls. My flock is a mixed age group with broodies bringing out the babies when they were about 3 wks old. They are going to eat whatever "mom" shows them so I just started mixing mine. Good luck!

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