All-flock or layers mix?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by IamRainey, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. IamRainey

    IamRainey Songster

    Aug 22, 2017
    Los Angeles (Woodland Hills)
    I've got a rooster and 6 hens.

    Until this month only 2 of my hens were laying and I fed all-flock with, of course, oyster shell and egg shells available.

    Now I've got all 6 girls laying and, of course, my roo is in there chowing down too. They're still getting all-flock and they're going through the oyster shell and eggshells like crazy. I mean I'm refilling those cups almost daily! Time to switch to layer mix? Will my boy be fine with that?

    Interestingly, while I was adding feed today I saw him go into the oyster shell. Does an adult rooster also require calcium? Will calcium be counter productive for my ladies when they're not laying if they're fully formed adults? I forgot what the danger of calcium-loaded feed for young birds who are not yet laying but does that continue to be an issue when they're just off for the Winter or taking a temporary break?
  2. A_Fowl_Guy

    A_Fowl_Guy Crowing

    Jan 29, 2019
    Newberry, Indiana
    You can switch to later fed once they are all 18 weeks or older. Do not give extra calcium.
  3. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    When did you start offering oyster shell?
    Do they have free access to feed all day or do you only feed so much at a time?
    Do they have access to a large run, pen or free range? Do you offer grit?
    I would stick with the All Flock with oyster shell on the side as well as a container of grit.
    The Al flock had the correct amount of calcium for all non laying birds. The OS is for active layers.
    blackdog043, RonP and Chick-N-Fun like this.
  4. IamRainey

    IamRainey Songster

    Aug 22, 2017
    Los Angeles (Woodland Hills)
    They have free access to feed, water, oyster shell, grit and egg shells when they're in the run.

    They are in the run during daylight hours. It's enclosed with the coop contained within the enclosure.

    The older chickens have had oyster shell and egg shells available since they were about 18wo. The younger ones (who are now 32wo) have always had it in their environment.
  5. Chick-N-Fun

    Chick-N-Fun Almy Acres Farm

    Jun 26, 2014
    Corning, NY
    I only feed my mixed flock Putin’s Flock Raiser with a separate container of oyster shell. My chickens have done very well with that feed. If you do not free range, you need to provide grit as well. Good luck!
    blackdog043 and DobieLover like this.
  6. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    So it's not a novelty.
    How much OS are they consuming? How many pounds a week? Do you think they are billing it out and it's getting mixed into your run litter?
    The cockerel could just be pecking at it. Mine did at first but he doesn't bother with it now.
    How big is the run? Do they have a lot of enrichment in it to keep them occupied?
  7. IamRainey

    IamRainey Songster

    Aug 22, 2017
    Los Angeles (Woodland Hills)
    I don't have an estimate of how much oyster and egg shell I'm giving them now but it's very clear to me that it's a LOT more than a couple months ago when I only got 1 egg every other day or so or last month when just 2 were laying.

    The run is probably 8' x 20'. And, not to be glib but, it's the same size it's always been. There are roosting bars at 3 different heights, rocks to climb, several water and feed stations, etc. It's a dry dirt floor they can dust bathe in at will. Most mornings I take them veggie peelings and shredded cabbage because they don't forage. Occasionally, I give them mealworms or black oil sunflower seeds.

    They've all been getting along fine, which is to say, I don't believe they're stressed out at all. Their need for calcium has just take a steep climb -- which is probably predictable since all 6 hens are now laying. What I'm wondering is if I should revert to the calcium-rich layer feed I gave them before my second younger flock joined the older girls and if that would present a problem for the rooster who I imagine doesn't have the same calcium need because he doesn't need to produce shells. Also, next Winter when the egg laying slows to a crawl should I put them back on all flock.

    Naturally, I will continue to provide all the supplemental grit, oyster shell and eggshells all the time whatever I'm feeding them.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  8. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

    Feb 19, 2017
    Charlotte, NC
    I would just continue with All Flock and oyster shell on the side. There is no sense in changing feed, just for a higher calcium content. I feed 20% starter grower all the time with oyster shell on the side.
    FlappyFeathers likes this.
  9. Timothy Menezes

    Timothy Menezes Songster

    Nov 27, 2017
    Monterey, California
    Lol opinions are like armpits, everybody's got them. My first flock I did the grower with Oyster Shell on the side. Several of my birds never ate the oyster shell and had constant softshell and NO shell eggs. That flock got so used to the taste of eggs that I had to butcher a few of the egg eaters that would hunt eggs constantly.

    It was sad. I said never again would I risk not having laying chickens on layer feed. For years I did just that with no issues. None of my roosters ever had a problem with the extra calcium. But to be fair, they were free range and could easily adapt their diet and never really seemed to eat much of the layer feed as they prefered to rustle up their own feed.

    Lately however, just in the last year of so the preditors hit my free rangers hard, which was weird cause it wasn't a big issue previously.

    I had to lock up my chickens, meaning the that my young birds, roosters, layers, everything would have access to each other's feed.

    After considering my limited options, I put both layer, grower, and OS in the run. There was a little cross feeding but really not much. This flock seems to be more careful and eats what is appropriate for them.

    In the end, I learned either system will work. So it really comes down to what you want to do and how you want to do it.
    Cindy in PA likes this.
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Just food for thought. I occasionally find my birds trying to dust bath in the oyster shells. I have also caught birds scratching and spooning them out, than scratching them into the ground.

    I personally would not feed a layer ration to a rooster unless you don't mind him being gone by about 4 years of age. Otherwise not feeding a layer will help roosters live much longer in my experiences.
    FlappyFeathers and penny1960 like this.

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