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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Junediamond, Nov 13, 2015.
When should I switch from chick feed to pullet feed, and then from pullet feed to hen feed?
I feed mine a starter grower, it covers both age groups, and I wouldn't put them on a layer until most of the hens are laying, though they can stay on a non medicated grower or be put on an all flock, which is my choice because of the higher protein which helps because mine free range a lot and get some scratch twice a day, and a separate dish for oyster shells.
Thank you! When do chicks come pullets?
I think after 8-12 weeks, when they are fully feathered.
I feed chick starter for about 3 months. After that I just feed a grower feed. When they start to lay(near6-7 months) you could keep feeding grower feed with oyster shells in a seperate dish or switch to layer feed.
Hope this helped!
There are a lot of different ways you can feed them. The only hard and fast rule is to not feed Layer to growing chicks because of the risk of damage from the excess calcium. Other than that you have a lot of leeway.
A general recommendation is to feed them a higher protein Starter for the first few weeks, let’s say four weeks but keep feeding it until the bag runs out, even if that is a lot more weeks. This gets them off to a good start and helps them feather out faster. Then switch to a lower protein Grower. Once they are feathered out) usually around 4 to 5 weeks) they don’t need the extra protein though it doesn’t hurt. The around 13 weeks some switch to an even lower protein Finisher/Developer. Many don’t. Then you up the protein a bit when you switch to Layer. If you look on the feed bag they probably have some kind of chart that shows this.
This is based on the commercial chicken egg laying industry. We don’t have their chickens. Their laying hens are highly specialized hybrid layers. They need to be fed a certain way to maintain their health. Over-feeding them can cause problems. They don’t want them to start laying too early. They want to allow those hybrid pullets to mature internally and the skeleton to fully develop before they start laying to avoid medical problems. You may have read about medical problems with the Cornish X if they are fed too much and allowed to grow too fast. The commercial hybrid egg layers are also specialized and require specific treatment.
Our chickens are not that specialized. They have not been so finely tuned genetically to convert feed to eggs. Our chickens can handle a variety of feeding regimens without problems.
If all you are after is eggs, you can follow that recommendation. Your chickens should do OK on that feeding schedule. I generally do but mine forage so much that what I feed them is not a huge part of their diet. You lose control of micromanaging their diet when they forage a lot or you feed a lot of treats. Your chickens won’t grow quite as fast or be quite as big when they stop growing so if you are raising them for show or just want bigger chickens that may not be the way you want to go.
A standard way to raise a brood of chicks where some will be layers and some will be for meat (dual purpose breeds) is to feed them a 20% protein feed from Day 1. Your laying flock will do fine on that diet and your meat birds will grow pretty well. That Finisher/Developer I mentioned above is probably a 15% protein feed though that is for a limited growth period. Some of us never switch to Layer, especially if we have growing chicks in the flock a lot. We feed anything from a 16% to 20% feed with oyster shell on the side so the hens that are laying can get the extra calcium they need for egg shells. The ones that don’t need the extra calcium won’t eat enough to harm themselves. That shows the range of what works for our laying flocks.
One problem with all this is that so many different things work that it can be confusing. There are too many options. I feed a higher protein feed while they are in the brooder but when they are out with the main flock, usually around 5 to 8 weeks, they eat Grower like everyone else. Or if the bag of Starter runs out after 4 weeks, they get Grower in the brooder.
My Feeding Notes: I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble 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.
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.
Thank you all so much! I will use this info!