Another feeding question

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Mavrk, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Mavrk

    Mavrk Chillin' With My Peeps

    After reading many posts here on when to feed what kind of food, the consensus seems to be to follow the bag or feed store schedule. The bag from my feed store does not have directions and the feed store schedule seems wrong to me even though they are a reputable feed store. So I come here to get your advice. I have been feeding Starter Crumble (21%) to my pullets. They are now 7 weeks old. The store says to feed this until 4 months, then feed hen scratch until 5 months (I seem to remember grit in there too), then layer feed (plus oyster shells, grit, and maybe something else). Another sign actually says that at 3.5 months start on chick scratch until 4 months first.

    Now it is my understanding that scratch is not really a good food, but rather a good treat. Also, they don't sell anything called "grower" that I can see (at least not in bulk). Since I only have 4 pullets, the 50 lb bag of starter is not even half gone (maybe). It was about the same price as getting two 10 lb ones so I bought the larger bag. Should I just keep feeding this one until it is gone? They eat more now that they are older, so the rest of my bag shouldn't last much more than a month. I am guessing that the answer will be to finish the bag.

    But what should I feed them after that? Should I look elsewhere for grower? Or should I follow the feed store recommendation and keep with starter then move to scratch?

    These are my first chickens in case you couldn't guess :) I have 2 Austrolorps and 2 Buff Orpingtons.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If your feed supplier has Starter but not grower, just keep them on the Starter.

    The key thing to remember is this. Layer isn't magical feed that makes hens lay. It is merely regular feed that has a huge dose of calcium that only a laying hen needs. That's all it is. That high calcium loads up in the body of bird that isn't laying, as it has no way to expel it. That is where the potential renal damage and gout comes from.

    Layer formula was designed merely for the convenience of the flock owner. If one supplies the calcium carbonate through alternate means, then layer isn't ever really "required". Hope that helps.
     
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  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Scratch. Scratch is never required. It is merely grains that people feed for both the bird's and the owner's entertainment. If you wish to feed a high quantity of scratch, 25% or more the diet, then I suggest supplementing with Game Bird feed.

    Game Bird Starter or Grower is normally 22-26% protein, which helps offset the poor protein of scratch grains. If your feed supplier does not carry Game Bird feed, then forgo the use of scratch or use it very, very sparingly.
     
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Great advise from Fred.

    Scratch is the candy of the chicken world. It should be used in very small amounts.
     
  5. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x 3 great post by Fred. Grower feed is also sometimes called flock raiser or you could ask if they have a non-medicated starter so they aren't on the medicated one the whole time if you do not want that. I would wait on layer until your hens are actually laying.
     
  6. mg15

    mg15 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This answers my problem. I have two hens and six nine week old White Leghorns. The hens eat the Grower formula and hardly eat the Layer formula. And the White Leghorns love the Grower formula. So I bought the non medicated Starter/Grower formula so the two hens would not be eating the medicated anymore but they won't eat the layer formula.
     
  7. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I actually only feed grower with calcium on the side for the whole life of my hens. I like that my hens can regulate their own calcium intake and if I get any young birds or ever get a rooster no one will be eating calcium that they don't need. Layer is fine for a flock of all laying hens but grower with oyster shell works just as well. It's a personal choice.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It sounds confusing, not because it is hard but because it is so simple. Many different things work well. There is very little that is wrong, just many right ways we do it.

    If you look on the label at the percentage protein you'll have a better idea of what you are dealing with. What they are calling scratch may actually be something I would not call scratch but might actually be a good feed. It's hard to say without looking at the label.

    Other than Layer, the basic difference in feed is percentage protein. With Layer, the main difference is the added calcium. I'll give you some typicals, but understand. these are approximate. For example, Fred has posted before that some if his feed has a higher percent protein that I'm going to list. You don't have to be precise. Close is close enough, just watch out for the extra calcium with growing chicks. That is a no-no.

    Starter - 20 to 24% Protein
    Grower - 16%
    Layer - 16% (plus calcium)
    Flock Raiser - 20%
    Combined Starter/Grower - 20%
    Developer/Finisher - 15%

    What they are called can be different too. Flock Raiser might be called something else. The Developer/Finisher I can get is called Grower/Finisher. Just look at the label and see what you are dealing with.

    The general recommendation is to feed a higher percent protein the first month or two to help them get a good start. (See how general this is. One month or two months, it doesn't matter. Whenever the bag runs out switch over. Or mix the feeds if you wish. Or keep feeding it until it runs out.) Whenever that bag runs out, switch to a lower protein feed to kind of slow their growth and give them time for their skeleton and internal organs to mature. When they start to lay, give them extra calcium for the egg shells. That can either be Layer or some calcium supplement on the side, usually oyster shells.

    Plenty of people start them on the combined Starter/Grower or Flock Raiser and feed that until they switch to Layer or maybe they stay on it and just offer oyster shell on the side. Or maybe at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or 13 weeks, they switch to a lower protein feed. They all do well. It is not that critical.

    The basic rule is to stay away from the higher calcium feed until they start to lay and need it for egg shells. I personally don't feed higher than a 20% protein feed after 8 weeks, prefering to slow down their growth a bit, but this is more personal preference than any written law.
     
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  9. Mavrk

    Mavrk Chillin' With My Peeps

    What would I look for on the label to be able to tell if their "scratch" is good feed vs a treat? I will ask them about this the next time I am in there. The higher protein of the starter is what I was concerned about. I did find another feed store not too far away and I might check to see what they carry. Just as an added bit of information, I did not get the medicated starter because I did not notice that was an option when I bought the feed. Would it be a good idea to start medicated feed?
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    If the percent protein is between 15% and 20%, that should be acceptable for the age you are talking about.

    I'll try to not write another book on medicated feed, though for me that can be a challenge. Again, look a the label to see what the medicine is in the medicated feed. It's probably Amprolium so I'll talk about that.

    Amprolium is not an antibiotic. It targets the protozoa that can cause coccidiosis, nothing else. It does not kill the protozoa, it reduces its reproduction. Having that protozoa in their system is not a bad thing unless the numbers get out of hand. They can develop an immunity to it, but they have to be exposed to get that immunity, so exposing them can be a good thing as long as the numbers don't get out of hand.

    Wet manure can cause the protozoa numbers to get out of hand. They'll peck at and eat manure. It's just what they do. By reducing the number that reproduce, the Amprolium helps keep the numbers down while allowing enough to live for them to get that immunity. It's important to know that amprolium in the dosage in medicated feed does not prevent cocci, but it greatly reduces the chance of cocci becoming a problem. A huge key is keeping the brooder, coop, or run fairly dry, at least until they get immunity.

    The time they are most at risk is when they are first exposed to that protozoa. After a couple of weeks they should be immune. That protozoa is real common in the ground, especially where you have moist warm conditions like the Southeast US. But it can be anywhere.

    A lot of us do not use medicated feed. Keeping the brooders, coops,and runs dry is sufficient.

    If yours have been exposed to the ground for a couple of weeks, medicated is probably of no use at all for you. They should have the immunity they need. But. as normal, there is the rest of the story.

    There are several different strains of the protozoa that can cause cocci. Immunity to one strain does not give immunity to all. Even if your chickens have developed the immunity they need, they may get exposed to another variety. This does not mean to keep them on medicated feed forever. It means learn the signs of cocci and always be on the watch for it, just like you need to always look after their overall health.
     
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