Calcium and chicks...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by cecilia501, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. cecilia501

    cecilia501 In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2007
    Benton City, WA
    I was wondering if anybody knew at what age it is ok for growing chicks to get the extra calcium in a layer feed without hurting their kidneys. Do they need to be laying eggs or just around that age (18 wks or so)? I have two laying hens and three 12 week old chicks and I wondered when I could begin feeding them the same food. I'm keeping them separate but it would be nice to know when it is safe to let them be (and eat) together. Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. chickensforever

    chickensforever In the Brooder

    Jan 16, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    They should be old enough to start transitioning them onto layer feed, just be sure to do it gradually - start at no more than 25% layer feed, and gradually work up to 100% over a week to make sure it doesn't overdose their systems!
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Cecilia, I'm no expert on this but it is my understanding that the hen rather quickly converts the calcium in her diet into egg shell. Calcium in today's feed will be calcium in tomorrow's eggshell. So, there's a high calcium "turnover rate" within the hen's body.

    The shell isn't "built" until the other parts of the egg are finished.

    Therefore, a pullet doesn't need the extra calcium until she begins to lay eggs. Layer feed has 4 times the calcium the pullet requires. As chikensforever suggests, the idea would be to limit and transition.

    edited to say: Wait! I just saw the word "week" in rereading chickensforever's post! Your pullets are months from needing all that extra calcium.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
  4. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    18 - 20 weeks is an average of when you might see eggs in a prolific layer. Big breeds can take much longer as more of their food energy goes to building and filling out their body. I have had a few eggs at 19 weeks. Most eggs for me always come around 22 - 24 weeks. My polish - little flighty pullets did not lay until 30 weeks. My big lue orp pullet didn't lay her first egg until 27 weeks.

    I strongly urge you to wait until you see an egg before switching over to a layer feed.
  5. cecilia501

    cecilia501 In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2007
    Benton City, WA
    Thanks for the feedback! I'll just keep feed them separate so they are as healthy as possible.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: