chicks and mom and the flock-food question

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by tegaan1, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    HI,

    I am a first time chicken person. I got chicks in the spring. One hen a red sussex cross has hatched 8 chicks, they are 17-19 days old. I have them separated from my flock of 15 other hens and 2 roosters. They are in a small brooder (that I had for the chicks). My question is about food. I am feeding the mom and chicks starter.

    How long do I feed starter for?
    When should I change to grower?
    And is the Hen ok on this food or does she need something else?
    Also when should I let the chicks into the coop with the rest of the chickens?

    It is getting cold here and the brooder has a heat lamp, the coop does not but we can add one. I moved the original chicks to the coop at 41 days but that was late spring.

    Also now that the flock has adult and chicks how do I feed them once they are together? The adults get layer and we need that for eggs but it's not good for the chicks till 4-6 months, so.....?

    Any info or experiences that anyone can tell me about would be helpful.

    Thanks
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Starter or Grower is fine for the broody and the other hens. Check the label. The only significance difference in Layer and the others is the percent calcium. The percent protein will vary some but that’s not significant like calcium.

    A traditional way to feed a mixed age flock is to feed them all the same thing, Starter, Grower, Flock Raiser, something like that, and offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the extra calcium seem to know to eat the oyster shell and the others won’t eat enough to harm themselves.

    Broody hens have been raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years, long before electric heaters were developed. The hen’s heater never has a power failure. You don’t need to provide extra hat. The broody will take care of that.

    My broodies raise their chicks with the flock from Day 1, just like broodies have been doing for thousands of years. Yes, it’s possible bad things can happen doing this. It’s also possible bad things can happen if you separate them. Living animals don’t come with absolute guarantees. To me, the broody handling integration outweighs any other risks.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You don't need layer feed for eggs. Layer feed has extra calcium that's about it. I feed my mixed age & gender flock an all-in-one, similar to All Flock or a regular grower feed. I give my hens their egg shells back and offer oyster shell when I think of it. Easiest thing to do is give everyone grower until the littles are bigs, then you can go back to layer if you want.

    I don't know what state you're in, but for the most part the chicks should be okay with just momma to stay warm. Fall weather is usually milder than spring weather. I'd put momma and the babies back in with the flock soonest, so momma will still be protective of the chicks and help introduce them to the flock.
     
  4. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    So, I should feed everyone grower, even the little chicks? And I should put everyone in the coop? Since they have been separated now for over a month how should I do this? slowly or just do it?

    If I put the hen and chicks in the coop will the hen sleep on the ground with the chicks or will she roost like she used to do?

    Thanks, Oh and I live in Canada, near Vernon BC!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You can feed Starter, Grower, or a Flock Raiser to all of them. It really doesn’t matter. People get so hung up on percent protein in a backyard flock when it’s really not that critical. If a free ranging hen sees a grasshopper, she doesn’t say “I’ve had enough protein for the day. I think I’ll pass”. She eats the grasshopper. The extra protein does not hurt her. If she doesn’t see the grass hopper, the lack of extra protein doesn’t hurt her. Same thing with the chicks when a broody is raising them.

    The exact percent protein can vary by brand name, but both Grower and Layer normally have about 16% protein. If you look at the label for the analysis, the only real difference in Grower and Layer should be the calcium. At 4 weeks, your chicks can certainly switch to Grower from Starter. That’s probably the percent protein your hens have been eating all along. The Grower should be less expensive than Starter. Or you can feed all of them a 20% or whatever protein level Flock Raiser forever. That will be a bit more expensive than the Grower but it won’t hurt any of them. The chicks could have been eating Grower from Day 1. It won’t hurt them, they’ll just grow a little slower than eating Starter. They’ll still grow, develop, and be healthy. It just doesn’t matter.

    You’ve introduced a new wrinkle by saying they are 4 weeks old. From your post I had incorrectly assumed they were still very young. You don’t know when a broody hen will wean her chicks and leave them on their own with the flock. I’ve had some wean theirs at 3 weeks. I’ve had some wait until at least 9 weeks. I’ve had some stop taking care of them during the day but protect them at night. I’ve had some take care of them during the day but leave them alone and on their own at night. There is no magic age when a broody stops taking care of her chicks.

    I’ve had a broody take her chicks with her to the roost at 2 weeks. That’s a little rare. I’ve had a broody never take her chicks to the roost before she weans them. That’s also rare. At some point she will abandon them to their own devices at night. I can’t tell you when that will be or whether she will have taught them to roost or not before she does that.

    If a broody is still protecting her babies, she will take care of integration for you. The chicks still have to handle pecking order issues on their own when they mature enough to handle that, but the broody has spent weeks teaching the other chickens to leave her babies alone. When she weans them they will probably form a separate flock during the day, trying to stay away from the older chickens and they will likely sleep on the floor or someplace away from the other adults at night, but the older chickens don’t go out of their way to attack or harm the chicks. The chicks are accepted as members of the flock, just inferior members because a mature hen outranks an immature chick in the pecking order.

    I don’t know when your broody will wean her chicks. In your cooler climate probably later rather than sooner but I can’t give any guarantees. I don’t know how big your coop is to give the chicks some room to get away from the adults and to give the broody some room to work with. Hopefully there is a run involved or some way for extra room. The more room, the better. If your room is tight now, it’s going to be tight when you handle integration later if you keep them separated for a while.

    I’d still try introducing them to the flock, maybe this week-end when you have time to observe. What I’d expect you to see is the other chickens curious about the newcomers, not necessarily trying to harm them but curious. I’d expect Mama to whip some butt if they become too forward with her babies, teaching them to leave her babies alone. If she has been separated for four weeks she may have some integration issues of her own, but normally a broody has such a bad attitude that no other chicken has a chance against her when she is protecting her babies. Don’t be shocked if you see a rooster help take care of the chicks. A lot of them will. And the rooster may break up some fights if they develop. Part of his job is to keep peace in his flock.

    So do it when you can observe. Expect some rough stuff when you first put them in there but you’ll have to use your judgment as to whether or not you need to intervene.

    Oh, and where are my manners. Welcome to the forum. Glad you joined us.
     
  6. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    Thanks, I will try to put them with the rest of the flock this week end.
     

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