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confused about food type to use in a mixed flock

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Zoomom, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. Zoomom

    Zoomom Certified Cackleberry Consumer

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    Jan 22, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi,
    I have only ever had layers before, so this is my first time with mixed age birds. I have a 1 1/2 year old Silkie hen, currently broody with 5 eggs under her, due to hatch next week (I hope) and 4 young pullets with ages ranging from 12-14 weeks. When I got them, they were 4, 5 and 6 weeks old so I bought a bag of chick starter crumbles and put that food in a bowl under the suspended layer feed container, which is whole and cracked grains. I figured my adult Silkie would eat her regular food because it is way more exciting than crumbs. She did. Gradually the babies have become tall enough to reach the adult feeder and can fly well enough to help themselves to the layer feed, so they eat both now. There is also a separate oyster shell container. They get grass or another veggie treat in the evenings.

    But the chick starter is medicated, and I didn't realize they sold me medicated until it was to late and I already opened it.

    My questions are:

    What do I do about the new chicks when they hatch? Continue with the chick starter for them and let the others eat what they want as they currently do? I figure when this bag of feed is gone, I'll buy grower or just let everyone eat the layer feed. But which is better for the chickens? Should I go straight to layer only and skip the grower?

    Also, if the pullets start laying, should I throw away the eggs since they may have eaten medicated food?

    I don't want to waste food, but I also noticed these young pullets always have runny brown poos, and my old hens did not have that at all. Their poos were formed with the white in the center. Is that from the medicated feed or an imbalance of nutrients? The poo is sticking to the feathers on the Mille Fleur Belgian D'Uccle's tails and legs. Due to this, I have decided to switch their bedding to something other than sand, probably a shredded paper or shavings.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    The only real problem is not letting young chicks have layer. The reason is that it has extra calcium which is harmful to a young chick's kidneys; can even kill them, I have read, but not sure. O solve this by hanging the layer high enough that the chicks can't reach it. Yes, then hens eat the starter/grower, some by preference, but not all of them do. Oyster shell and grit do not seem to be eaten by those who don't need it; mine actually take a long time to go through a bag.

    I don't know at what age layer is safe for chicks, but I get the impression it's something like 8 or 10 weeks.

    Is it medicated with amprolium? I wouldn't worry about it for anyone if it is, especiallly if they can get at unmedicated feed. If it's with an antibiotic, personally, I would throw the feed away, or isolate roosters and feed it to them.

    It may not be legal to sell eggs when the bird has eaten amprolium, but I don't sell my eggs, so I don't worry about what the birds eat that I am also eating. Hasn't hurt me yet.
     
  3. Zoomom

    Zoomom Certified Cackleberry Consumer

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    Jan 22, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi ddawn,

    Thank you for your reply and reassurances.

    The layer feed is hung up about 1 1/2 feet off the ground, so there is no way the new chicks will be able to access it unless the bigger girls spill some.

    I don't sell my eggs...I barely get enough to feed ourselves and usually have to buy some from a friend with hens to top up our own eggs.

    It is Amprolium, not antibiotics, so I guess I will just finish off this bag and then everyone should be old enough to eat the layer feed. With such a small flock it takes a long time to get through 50lbs of food.

    I feel a lot better now.
    [​IMG]
    Lisa and the flock
     
  4. coloradochick

    coloradochick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Congrats on your little broody, how egg-citing [​IMG]

    When I have mixed ages I feed Purina Flockraiser. Mine love the Purina products best of all but that gets them all what they need until, and if you even do, start feeding them layer again.
     
  5. Zoomom

    Zoomom Certified Cackleberry Consumer

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    Jan 22, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi coloradochick,

    Thanks for the congrats...hopefully the eggs hatch. I have until Wednesday to wait. It is a loooong wait.

    Thanks for the tip on feed. I am having trouble finding Purina Flockraiser locally, and I don't know why as I hear a lot of good things about it. All I can get is Masterfeeds (crumbs and pellets, seems to be a good food), the TSC brand (crumbs, which the chickens didn't like at all, and they didn't lay well on) and this "housebrand" from a local feed store (Brooks Feeds) that is whole and cracked grains with the powdered supplements in it (which they love, and I like being able to see whats in it, but worry that the supplements may not be evenly distributed, but I seem to keep coming back to).

    If I end up with more chicks, I will try to find Flockraiser.

    Lisa [​IMG]
     
  6. har

    har Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To make things simple I feed all my chickens 24% TSC chick feed. They all get it from hens to chicks with extra calsium on the side. They seem to like it better then the other TSC feed. I think you will be impressed with there droppings.
     
  7. coloradochick

    coloradochick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey Lisa if you go to the Purina website, which is a BYC sponsor, they will allow you to find the closest store that carries the Purina brand [​IMG]
     
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:This may not be the best thing for layers. Research has shown that 16% protein gives the most eggs -- no more, no less. Even if that is not a concern of your, that much protein is rough on chickens' organs. It is meant for game birds, I think it is. Perhaps if they free range or have access to enough natural feed (grass, weeds, bugs) they will not get too much protein.
     
  9. har

    har Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes my chickens free range all day long and eat what they want. I have had several discussions with other people on BYC and there sure is a lot of differance in opinions on protein level and so on. I guess its all a little confusing to me. What I do know is when I feed the 24% there droppings are what they should be and that tells me a lot.
     
  10. Zoomom

    Zoomom Certified Cackleberry Consumer

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    Jan 22, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the ideas and tips. I'll check out the Purina site. [​IMG]
     

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