Developer Feed or straight from Chick to Layer?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jeremyhodges, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. jeremyhodges

    jeremyhodges Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2013
    San Diego
    I was wondering what people do for their transition from chick feed to layer feed. One of my favorite chicken books (I almost wrote Bible!) is A Chicken in Every Yard, by the Litts. In it they say to transition from a chick feed to a developer feed, which can be purchased or can be a mix of layer and chick feed (50/50 mix). My local feed store doesn't carry developer feed, so I bought a layer feed to do the mix. When I told them I was doing this they looked at my like I was crazy! They said I should just switch from chick to layer feed at 16 weeks. This is also what it says on the back of the Nutrena brand of chicken food, but I think the fact that they don't have a developer mix might be a part of the reason for that! Do others do a mix or do they just go from chick to layer?
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 24, 2013
    I just switch my birds from chick feed to layer feed. I usually do it when they start laying, not at sixteen weeks.
  3. jeremyhodges

    jeremyhodges Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2013
    San Diego
    Interesting. I know that the protein on layer feed is less than on grower and I wasn't sure if it that is better for them health-wise. I know they don't really need the calcium before they're laying.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    In my opinion, people worry a lot too much about stuff like this. Let’s forget Layer for a while. I’ll get back to it.

    The only significant difference in the various Starters, Grower, combined Starter/Grower, Developer/Finisher, Flock Raiser or all the other forms of feed is percent protein. You can feed any of these at any time and it won’t hurt them. One normal progression is to feed Starter for 4 to 8 weeks to give them a better start, then switch to Grower, then eventually switch to Layer. Or you can feed the combined Starter/Grower from Day 1 until you switch to Layer. You can feed Flock Raiser from Day 1 until you switch to Layer. The Developer/Finisher is sometimes used from maybe 3 months until you switch to Layer. You can use any of these at any time, going from one to another, and it won’t hurt them. They are not going to curl up and die if you don’t get this exactly right. Don’t let people make you feel guilty if you don’t follow their personal preference exactly. We are all over the board with this stuff and our chickens do OK.

    Sound complicated? It’s not. Practically anything works. It’s that simple.

    The only significant difference in Layer and the others is the percent calcium. Chickens that are laying eggs need extra calcium for the egg shells. If they are not laying eggs they don’t need extra calcium. There is no magic ingredient in Layer that will cause them to start laying eggs. There is no reason to start feeding them Layer until they start laying eggs. Many of us feed Layer at all. We feed Grower, Flock Riser, something like that and offer oyster shell on the side.

    There is a reason to not feed Layer to growing chicks. The extra calcium can damage their internal organs, kidneys and liver. It can also cause skeleton damage. I don’t know at what age the chicks are old enough that the extra calcium doesn’t hurt them. I have seen studies where they started feeding Layer to chicks at hatch and another study at 5 weeks, then cut the chicks open to see the damage. They did find damage in both studies.

    Since they don’t need the extra calcium until they start to lay, I suggest you don’t switch to Layer until they start to lay. If you wish, get a bag of oyster shell and offer that on the side. The ones that need it for their egg shells seem to instinctively know they need it. Those that don’t need it won’t eat enough to harm themselves.

    I just saw your last post. Different brands of chicken feed have different percentages, but the percent protein on my Layer is 16%. The percent protein n my Grower is 16%. Mine are exactly the same, though I realize yours might be different.
    1 person likes this.

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