Am I feeding my chickens right?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by chickkrakidd, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. chickkrakidd

    chickkrakidd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know there's plenty of talk about how& when& what to feed your chickens. But I'm still a little confused& not sure if I'm feeding them right, so I want to double check& make sure. I know you guys on BYC r very helpful. So... I have 19 chickens. 3 which r Roos. 16 hens. I have RIRs, Buff Orpingtons& Blue Andalusians. They r all 24 weeks old. I started feeding them all layer crumbles at about 18 weeks or so. I get a 50lb bag of feed about very two weeks. I have a 5 gal bucket feeder which I fill up about once a week. They haven't started laying yet, but from what I read, some people have had these breeds lay as late as 28 wks. I don't give them grit as I've read they don't really need it bc I'm feeding them crumbles. I don't feed oyster shells on the side either bc again, I read that they only need them if I'm feeding an all flock feed. Which I'm not, I give them Layer Crumbles. So basically, am I giving them the right feed& in the right amount? Do I need to give them oyster shells on the side? Do I need to give them grit? I just want to know that I'm doing my best to keep my feathery friends healthy& happy.
     
  2. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    It sounds like you're doing a good job feeding your flock. [​IMG]

    You only need to supplement chickens with calcium if you are not feeding layer feed or are having problems with egg shell strength, Otherwise, the layer feed gives them all the calcium and nutrients they need.

    You don't need to give them grit as long as the only thing they're eating is the layer feed. However, if you let them out in a grassy area to free range or feed them any food scraps, they will need grit. A handful of coarse sand will work as grit, or you can purchase some grit from a store.

    Good luck with your flock!
     
  3. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree.

    However, I'll add one more thing. Many people don't feed layer feed to mixed flocks of rooster and hens. It provides too much calcium for the roosters, who aren't producing eggs. It's probably fine for a short time, but I wouldn't do it forever. I'd change to an all-flock feed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC :)

    We've had chickens that started laying at 21-22 weeks and others that didn't start until 26 or 27, so you sound on track. But not feeding them grit? Who said that? Do you ever feed them treats or scraps? Do they free-range? Do they eat anything in their run or coop that isn't feed? Then they need grit. If they eat something fibrous, like grass, they won't be able to digest it without grit and could get a blockage internally. They don't have teeth to chew with and the grit functions like teeth. In fact, my flock, who free-ranges every day (and presumably should get their ration of grit outdoors) and who has been recently eating crumbles for the first time in their life, have been chowing down the grit I give them on the side. Not sure why.

    I don't typically feed layer feed and they do go through the oyster and egg shells pretty quickly. But even when I have fed layer feed, they STILL eat some oyster/egg shells, just not as much. There's also a theory that since the oyster shell particles are larger than the limestone particles in most layer feeds, that the contact time with the calcium receiving sites in the intestines is longer and therefore the bird absorbs more calcium. Don't know if that's really true or not but it sorta makes sense. Laying eggs takes a LOT of calcium and little extra on the side can't hurt...they'll eat it if they need it.

    Grit and oyster shell are super cheap. For containers, I drilled two plastic salsa tubs to the framing of the run, which is about a foot above floor level, and I fill those. Can't be knocked over and high enough to keep most of the crud out.

    You could also check them all for mites or lice, just look at their vents and see if you see any small things crawling around. If they get bad enough infestations, it can cause them to stop (or not start) laying.

    Also, IMO, you really don't want to feed them layer feed until they actually start to lay eggs. If you start feeding layer at week 18 and they don't start laying until week 25, then that's 6 weeks of their kidneys working very hard to excrete the extra calcium. It's hard on them. It's also hard on your rooster (eating layer), but many people do it anyways. I'm not sure where the "laying at 20 weeks" idea comes from, because we've never had a chicken start laying right at 20 weeks. At this point, I wouldn't worry about it any more and just keep doing what you're doing since you are probably so close to laying stage anyways.
     
  5. chickkrakidd

    chickkrakidd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks guys! I appreciate the help. [​IMG]
     
  6. chickkrakidd

    chickkrakidd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Wyandottes7 thanks for mentioning about feeding layer feed to a mixed flock with roosters. I have heard that. But I've also heard that some people feed the layer mash to their mixed flocks& have no problems with the roosters. However, I've also heard people say that it can cause problems in the Roos. I plan on separating the Roos from the hens when my hens start laying, then I'll probly feed layer feed to the hens& get regular feed for the Roos. Would it be ok to wait until I separate the Roos& hens?
     
  7. chickkrakidd

    chickkrakidd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @bantamlover21 @pdirt thanks for mentioning about the grit. I have fed them lawn clippings, cucumbers( everything but the rind), and I have meal worms that I will soon be feeding them. I also plan to feed them scraps later, but I haven't fed much bc I wasn't for sure what they could& couldn't eat. But thanks to BYC, I found an awesome chart. Anyways, about the grit. Do I feed to the side of the scraps& lawn clippings, etc.? Or do I put it with the scraps? Or does it even matter? Again, thanks for all the help.
     
  8. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    While it is not ideal to feed layer feed to non-laying birds, many people do feed a flock with roosters a layer feed without issues. Certainly young growing birds should not eat a layer ration.

    If you feed your chickens ANYTHING other than complete processed rations, they should get granite grit. And, some laying birds use a lot of calcium - so it is not a bad idea to offer it on the side. You can easily set up small gravity feeders using PCV pipe to offer these on the side.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. chickkrakidd

    chickkrakidd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks @1muttsfan I'm glad I asked all this stuff. Lol
     
  10. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    We were all beginners once. Ask away.
     

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