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Changing from layer feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Secretlyspotted, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. Secretlyspotted

    Secretlyspotted Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2013
    Carrollton GA
    I have a mixed flock (one RSL hen, one EE hen, 1 maran pullet, 1 silkie pullet, and 1 cochin pullet). I have been feeding them layer crumbles. I was reluctant to switch to another type of feed because the EE's eggs have VERY thin shells. (Already tried just about everything I could think of for that). Anyway, the EE is molting and not laying now anyway. (She can either get her act together in the spring or she's gonna go in the stew pot). The RSL's egg shells are like rocks, so I'm guessing she doesn't need the extra calcium. And I've learned that the extra calcium is bad for the pullets. The other factor in this is that the pullets seems to be maturing VERY SLOWLY. I've owned them for 3 months and that would make the youngest of them 20 weeks and still no real combs or wattles. (Maybe this is normal?) Anyway- this question is getting confusing!- should I switch them to something with higher protein to get them to develop faster? Or flock raiser? Or what?
    Oh- and they do have oyster shells available in a side dish and I occasionally feed egg shells back to them.
  2. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    Strange. The birds still sound young so I do not think it is appropriate to make a determination about how their egg laying abilities will progress at this point. Wait a while and see what happens. It could just be development for now. Don't load your birds on calcium, because the others sound like they have plenty, and too much of a good thing...
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    The extra calcium is definitely not good for birds not laying, even hens that are taking a break.
    The delayed maturity could be seasonal. It takes light to stimulate the hormones.
    How do you feed the egg shell back?
    Having the oyster shell on the side is a good thing. The larger particles work better for building shells than the smaller particle size in the layer feed.
    How long has the pullet been on layer? Kidney stones and other renal, organ and soft tissue problems can arise from birds not laying getting 4% dietary calcium.
    A grower feed will help the growing bird and the one building feathers.
    There probably isn't much difference between a flock raise and a grower feed.
    Check the labels for calcium content and protein content. The calcium should be around one %.
    Don't give up on the EE (or any bird that slows/stops in fall and winter) they'll reward your trust come spring and summer.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I'm always reading labels, and I have found that flock raiser and chick starter/ grower are about the same with 18-20 % protein. A brand called Souther States Rockin Rooster Growth Booster even comes in pellets which I prefer when not having chicks on the ground.
  5. JulieNKC

    JulieNKC Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 25, 2010
    Kansas City
    I have mixed ages and birds in my flock. Since most are only seasonal layers i never use layer feed. I feed eggshells back, and keep oyster shell available. Ive had a few birds here and there lay thin shelled eggs, but the cause always seems to be that they are genetically prone to it, excessive heat, worms, etc. Pullets that get to point of lay in winter months may mature slower and not lay until the daylight starts increasing.
  6. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Ok, time & time again people talk about too much calcium for non laying chickens. Young chickens I get they should not have the extra calcium while growing. Chickens over 18-20 weeks, I never heard until I came to this forum about NOT giving them layer during molt or don't give layer to roosters. Most of my feed tags say it's OK to feed to adult non laying birds male & female. I have rarely not fed layer to adult birds. The new Nutrena Feather Fixer feed has up to 3.9% calcium and yet they say to feed during molt. Sometimes it seems there are so many dos & don'ts that people are messing up their chickens. Get chicks. Feed them Starter or Starter /Grower, put them on layer when they lay. Don't feed too much scratch, even though it is not just wasted calories or candy. Always provide clean water. Keep them clean & provide lights if you want eggs. Enough said.
  7. Secretlyspotted

    Secretlyspotted Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2013
    Carrollton GA
    So- they've been on layer... well... since I got them. whoops I swear I asked the people I bought the pullets from and they said to give them layer crumbles, but I must have been confused. I feel like a terrible chicken mommy! Any idea how I could tell if they had any of the health problems you described? The pullets are acting normal. Or, at least, what I assume is normal considering I've had chickens all of three months. I did lose one pullet about 2 months ago, I wonder if the feed was the problem.
    When I make boiled eggs I put the shells back in the chicken scraps tin. Then they get the scraps about once a week.
    I am headed to the feed store tonight to read labels!
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    OK, I'll cite the research.

    http://www.agbiosecurity.ca/healthy...m and Vitamin D3 problems in laying birds.pdf

    All of these scholarly and other articles point the damage done to birds not actively laying whether they be a pullet, rooster, hen in molt or just one taking a break.
    Except when an egg is in the shell gland there is very little need for calcium - hence the 1% common in non-layer feeds.
    The articles show renal disease, gout, testicular and sperm damage, and death from excess calcium.
    Another study I haven't been able to locate showed that roosters in breeding flocks died at 4 times the rate of hens. Necropsies showed kidney damage to be the cause.
    Chickens die, people don't de necropsies and they never think the problem is nutrition.
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I believe that people told you to feed that. You aren't a terrible chicken mommy.
    Calcium sources should be in a separate container so the laying hen can choose to eat it, not mixed with the feed.

    Layer feed was formulated for the commercial laying flocks. They put flocks of same age pullets on a lighting program to force laying commencement at the same time, they can then switch to a 4% calcium feed and usually do ok. They don't care what happens after that. The laying hens do need the calcium but they're only going to be laying about 18 months till they become Campbell's soup so it doesn't matter.
    Backyarders and small holders are a different situation.
    I've read of commercial flocks that had huge losses because they were on layer too early. That's what led to the research on acidifiers in feed to ameliorate the excess calcium.
  10. Secretlyspotted

    Secretlyspotted Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2013
    Carrollton GA
    Sigh- I know better than to trust what people tell you. I should have done my own research on how to feed a flock mixed with pullets and hens. I got so preoccupied with the EE hen that (so far) has been a terrible layer that I didn't even think about the pullets. I just came from the chicken yard and one of the pullets literally FLEW to me to get her nightly cup of corn. (I give all of them about a cup of corn mixed with sunflower seeds as an evening dessert.) So she looks whole and healthy. Hopefully my pullets survive their early exposure to calcium!

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