Chick Starter vs. Layena

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Cheryl1948, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. Cheryl1948

    Cheryl1948 Chirping

    Aug 13, 2013
    Randleman, NC
    I have 14 hens and two 4 month old pullets. I was feeding my 14 Layena feed until they began molting last fall. I switched to Feather Fixer. When the two chicks hatched in Sept. I put out Chick Starter for them and continued feeding Feather Fixer also to the rest of my flock. Everyone is mostly eating the Chick Starter. They are also eating the heck out of the oyster shell I provide (for more calcium I am sure) Every couple of days in the poop tray I am finding a yucky soft egg. When they were on the Layena I only found perfect eggs. If I start them back on the Layena, will it be bad for the pullets that haven't started laying yet? I read they shouldn't have that until they start laying because it would be too early and mess them up when they do start laying. Should I just be patient and continue feeding Chick Starter and let the layers get the oyster shell? They do not free range, but they get lots of other healthy stuff; greens, vegies, fruit, mealworms, turkey, scratch, canned corn, scrambled eggs, you name it if it's healthy they get it.
  2. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Songster

    Sep 27, 2014
    Most timr new layers have soft type eggs
  3. Twistedfeather

    Twistedfeather Songster

    Feb 23, 2014
    I'm not sure it's nesscarily the feed that's causing the soft shells like ThePRfan said most young pullets do lay eggs like that you just need to put more calcium in there diet. Crushed egg shell works
  4. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Cut out all the treats your feeding them and see what happens.
    You may see "healthy" foods but I see a bunch of treats that are depleting the nutrients of there feed.
    It's ok to offer treats now and then but a little go's a long way.

    Also good strong shells are made up of more than just calcium, in fact if some nutrients are low you can feed all the oyster shells (calcium) you want and still get soft/poor shells.

    A few things to look at when you are getting soft eggs are---

    Protein, Adequate levels of lysine and methionine is need to produce good egg shells. When pullets begin laying, there is an increase in protein, vitamin and mineral requirements per day due to deposition in the egg. If dietary protein is too low or the amino acid requirements are not met, poor egg production and hatchability will occur.

    Calcium, The egg shell is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The pullet's requirement for calcium is relatively low during the growing period, but when the first eggs are produced, the need is increased at least four times, with practically all of the increase being used for the production of eggshells. Inadequate calcium consumption will result in decreased egg production and lower egg shell quality.
    Hens store calcium in medullary bone, a specialized bone capable of rapid calcium turnover. As calcium stores are depleted, bones become brittle. In severe cases, hens are unable to stand. The condition is known as caged-layer fatigue. Birds on the ground or on litter floors recycle calcium and phosphorus through consumption of feces, and do not have caged-layer fatigue.
    Calcium can be supplied in the diet as either ground limestone or oyster shell. Particle size affects calcium availability. Usually the larger the particle size, the longer the particle will be retained in the upper digestive tract. This means that the larger particles of the calcium source are released more slowly, and this may be important for the continuity of shell formation, especially in the dark period when birds do not ordinarily eat.
    Periodically, dolomitic limestone is offered to the feed industry. However, dolomitic limestone(which is used in the steel industry) should never be used in poultry diets. Dolomitic limestone contains at least 10% magnesium, and this complexes with calcium or competes with calcium for absorption sites in the intestines. The consequence of feeding dolomitic limestone is induced calcium deficiency.
    Young birds should not be fed a high calcium layer diet because the calcium/phosphorus ratio will be unbalanced, resulting in increased morbidity or mortality.

    Phosphorus, The nutritional role of phosphorus is closely related to that of calcium. Both are constituents of bone. The ratio of dietary calcium to phosphorus affects the absorption of both these elements an excess of either one impedes absorption and can reduce egg production, shell quality and/or hatchability.
    In addition to its function in bone, phosphorus plays a primary role in carbohydrate metabolism is active in fat metabolism, and helps to regulate the acid-base balance of the body

    Vitamin D, Vitamin D is required for normal calcium absorption and utilization. If inadequate levels of vitamin D are fed, induced calcium deficiency quickly results and egg production decreases.
    Feed grade vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. In most animals, both are equally potent. In birds, however, D3 is substantially more active than D2. In poultry diets, therefore, vitamin D must be supplied in the form of D3.

    Magnesium, Magnesium is needed for healthy bones, proper nervous system functioning, and energy metabolism.

    Fat, Dietary fat is a source of energy and of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. A deficiency of linoleic acid will adversely affect egg production. Dietary fats also serve as "carriers" of fat-soluble vitamins, and some fat is necessary for absorption of vitamins. In fact, impairment of the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) is the most serious consequence of a dietary deficiency of fat.

    The general make up of a egg shell is --
    Calcium carbonate.............................................................:94-97%
    Sodium, Potassium, Manganese, Iron and Copper............:traces
    Organic matter...................................................................:< 2%
  5. Cheryl1948

    Cheryl1948 Chirping

    Aug 13, 2013
    Randleman, NC
    I hear you Chris. Will cut back on the treats. The gooey eggs in the poop tray are not coming from the pullets. They haven't started laying yet. I know also that when a hen hasn't laid any eggs for a while (being broody or molting) and they start back laying, the first eggs may be mushy. But, my question was not answered about starting them back on the Layena. Will it be bad for the 4 month olds? The rest of the flock is 1-1/2 yrs. old.

  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    If they were getting all the extra stuff before but were laying good strong eggs, then isn't it more likely that the change in egg quality is due to the change in feed?
    Any way you can separate the pen for a while and provide the layers with their own feed? If you no longer get the soft eggs you'll know it was the change in feed.
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Good suggestions from Chris and talkalittle.

    In my experience age of layers has had minimal correlation to production of soft shelled eggs.
  8. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    4 months of age is way to young for a layer feed.
    The high amounts of calcium can cause health problems...
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    My answer to your question is that I don’t know but I would wait on Layer until they start laying.

    Here are a couple of studies that show feeding Layer and nothing but Layer to chicks starting at hatch or starting at 5 weeks of age can cause damage to the chicks. The issue is the extra calcium in the feed. It can permanently harm their internal organs and can increase fatalities.

    Avian Gout

    British Study – Calcium and Protein

    I have not seen any studies that show at what age, if any, chickens that are not laying can safely eat Layer. A hen laying an egg uses the excess calcium for her egg shells. Some calcium is used for body maintenance so they do need some calcium, just not a lot. Any calcium that is not used for either body maintenance or egg shells has to be filtered out of their body by the liver and kidneys. With humans, excess calcium can lead to bone spurs, kidney stones, or other problems. You would think that excess calcium could lead to problems with chickens that are not laying also, but I have not seen any studies that show that. Maybe there is an age where the excess calcium does not cause problems. I simply don’t know.

    Since I don’t have any hard and fast evidence one way or another, all I can have is an opinion. My opinion is that I would not feed Layer until most of the pullets are laying. To me, that seems a reasonable approach. Since I practically always have under-aged chickens in my flock I never feed Layer anyway. I feed Starter, Grower, or something like that with regular calcium levels and offer oyster shells on the side. That way I know my rooster, any under-aged chicks, and any hens molting and not laying are safe from problems potentially caused by excess calcium.
  10. Cheryl1948

    Cheryl1948 Chirping

    Aug 13, 2013
    Randleman, NC
    Great! Thanks for the answers. I will stick to the Starter/Grower and continue to give them the oyster shell. When the two pullets begin to lay, I won't have any little ones for a long time and it will be safe to start them on Layena again. I thought I had read somewhere that the pullets needed to be on starter/grower until they are laying because of health reasons. That is how I did it with my 14.[​IMG]

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