In the Brooder
- Sep 15, 2019
I'm confused on how long to keep my silkie bantam chick on starter, the net says 18 weeks, but the chick feed instructions on the bag says 6-8 weeks. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks for your help, I just have 1 House silkie.There is no right answer. A normal progression in feed if you are feeding a commercial laying flock is to start them off with a high-protein Starter until they are well-feathered out, then switch to a lower-protein Grower as they fill out to slow growth to match bone and internal organ development and slow onset of laying. Then a month or so later they often switch to an even loser protein finisher/developer. When they hit 18 weeks they switch to Layer feed with higher calcium levels for egg shell production and a bit more protein than finisher/developer. That's probably what is shown on the feed bag.
We generally don't have the commercial egg laying hybrids the commercial operations use. We don't manage light, amount of feed, and other things the way they do. Ours are not always the same sex and age. Ours often don't start laying as early as theirs do. We often let ours forage or feed them treats instead of micromanaging every bite they eat. The schedule on the bag assumes that chicken feed is all they ever eat. Our livelihood does not depend on getting maximum efficiency out of out flock. They are operating under tight profit margins to feed their families. It's not an apples to apples comparison.
I'm not sure what your goals are or what chickens you have. With certain goals you may need a specialized diet, say you are raising them for show. For that you need a different diet than for a flock that will be layers. But for most of us we have a lot of freedom in how we feed them.
You can follow the schedule on the bag, a lot of people do and do OK. You can feed them higher levels or protein, it won't hurt them as long as you don't get ridiculous. If yours get a lot of low-protein treats a higher protein level may make sense. If they have mixed age flocks with immature chickens present or roosters many people never use Layer but use a low calcium feed (with whatever protein level they are happy with) with oyster shell of some other calcium supplement on the side. You have a lot of options on what you can do and still treat your chickens well. Having all those options does make it hard. It would be easier if there were just one way to do it.
I'm sure my set-up and goals are different from yours. I keep a small laying/breeding flock of one rooster and 6 to 8 hens. I'll raise about 45 chicks each year, some in a brooder and some with broody hens. Some chicks are hatched in February, some may be hatched as late as August so a lot of varying ages. I feed Starter to all of mine when young chicks are with them then switch to Grower when the last of the chicks have reached four weeks of age. I always provide oyster shell on the side for those that are laying and need the extra calcium.
I don't feel that you are being a bad chicken mommy if you don't do it my way. Sourland's way works for a lot of people. I'm not sure where you are located but when George says All Flock he's talking about a low-calcium feed with a 20% protein level. It may be called something else where you are. Or Chick Starter can be used.