Can I switch To Layer feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Newbie322, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. Newbie322

    Newbie322 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 19, 2015
    Hopatcong NJ
    Hello All,
    I have two Sliver Laced Wyandot's . Right now they are about 14 weeks old, I have had them since they were chicks, and have been separated from my other two, hens I have and for the most part they are use to each other . I live in the North East and this weekend it is supposed to get extremely cold out, the way I have them separated I am afraid they may get to cold, so my question is , is it to early to start the new hens on layer feed. like I said they are about 14 weeks old. Also if someone can offer advise my two other hens I have seem to be laying very brittle eggs, I do supply them with crushed oyster shells, on a regular basis. Could it be the layer feed or should I add additional supplements.

  2. Put them all on grower till the young ones start laying.......Pullets should not eat layer till laying.....The oyster shell is fine bause the young birds leave it till needed....Never mix the oyster shell with your feed....

  3. Newbie322

    Newbie322 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 19, 2015
    Hopatcong NJ
    The other two are already laying their about 18months old now, I was just concerned about keeping them (the young pullets)warm enough . But I'm sure Ill figure something out
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble full time to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Welcome to BYC, Peter. You will get a dozen answers to any single question you post. Goes to show there's no one right way to raise chickens! I can tell you that I would not worry about excess calcium at this stage. If they were little peeps, sure, it would be wise to keep them on starter or multi-flock. But, I'm not concerned about extra calcium when the peeps are starting to get their cluck, as I'm sure yours are by now. the reason I can state with confidence that extra calcium is not a concern is the fact that any chick that is free ranging with Mama is getting far more calcium than that which is in layer. Have you ever seen chicks go nuts over clover and dandelion greens? Both of them are packed with calcium. One ounce of fresh dandelion greens has 52 mg. of Ca. I can also tell you that if I did not have to keep tight reign on my wallet, I'd feed nothing but unmedicated starter or multi-flock starter/grower (20% protein) with oyster shell on the side. As for your 2 older birds with brittle shells, they are reaching the end of their laying cycle, and if not already doing so, they will be molting soon. Their bodies are depleted. You can help them out by providing increased protein. This can be in the form of the 20% multi flock, or you can give them some animal protein, or even a bit of kitty kibble. If you use the kitty kibble, note the protein content on the bag. A very little bit goes a very long way. You can also toss your egg shells back to your birds. An other BYC member posted a recent study that de-bunks the "they saids". Many of the "they saids" said that it's a waste of time to give egg shell to chickens, b/c they don't absorb the calcium well compared to oyster shell. This study pointed out that there is no difference in shell quality comparing OS to ES supplementation. Also, don't buy the myth that feeding egg shell will turn your birds into egg eaters. The only thing that will make them into egg eaters is having weak shells, or having dietary deficiencies. By providing that extra calcium in either form, you are helping to correct any deficiencies.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Will you ever get different opinions on about any question you ask on here! I’ll add to the confusion.

    There are plenty of studies that show feeding Layer to young chicks can cause health problems because of the extra calcium. I haven’t seen any studies that show when it is safe to start feeding them the extra calcium. A few things about those studies though. They only feed the chicks chicken feed; no treats, no foraging, and no supplements. They control exactly how much extra calcium they eat. They use tricks like timed feeding, giving them what they can clean up at one time then letting them get hungry again before they give them anything else so they all rush to eat. That stops the food hogs and bullies from keeping the others from getting their fair share. That way they all eat enough without eating too much.

    These studies are run on the commercial chickens (hybrid broilers or hybrid commercial laying pullets) not our backyard flock breeds. There have been studies where they pre-load the pullets that will be layers with the extra calcium to try to get them ready to lay. The results I saw was that it really did not help. But an important part of that study was that they were using the commercial laying hybrids. They control exactly when those pullets will start laying, mostly by controlling the lights. We don’t have a clue when out pullets will actually start to lay. If you try preloading them with calcium you may be loading them for months.

    Bobbi, Canoe, or maybe someone else linked a study that feeding Layer to non-laying birds like roosters can over time have a detrimental effect. Bottom line I can’t tell you when it is safe to start feeding non-laying birds Layer feed. If yours forage for much of their food you don’t have a lot of control over it anyway. I practically always have young non-laying birds in my flock anyway so I never feed Layer, I just offer oyster shell on the side.

    The main reason I’m responding though is your concern about keeping them warm this winter. At 14 weeks old they are well beyond being fully feathered out. As long as you keep them in a well-ventilated coop and out of direct winds they can easily handle any cold you will see in the Northeast. You do not have to integrate them to keep each other warm. They keep themselves warm the same way the wild birds that overwinter there keep themselves warm, use their down jacket and stay out of strong cold winds.

    I don’t know what your facilities look like or how hard it would be to integrate those two, if your facilities are small it could be a challenge. I regularly integrate at either 5 weeks or 8 weeks depending on certain things, yours are certainly old enough to try with a reasonable chance at success, especially if you have extra room. Integrating is probably worth a separate thread. But don’t think you have to keep them warm this winter, you do not. But you do need to provide them a way to get out of the wind.

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