Do hens even need layer feed, or can I use all-purpose and supplement?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by matimeo, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    My girls are growing up and I need to think about what I'll be feeding them in the coming weeks. This is my question: I understand that layer feed has the added calcium for chickens who are laying eggs. But if I am supplementing my hens with eggs shells, oyster shell, etc, do I even need that or can I just give them a general feed without calcium? Also, if I do give them layer feed, do they still need supplemental calcium on top of that?

    Thanks a million!
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Layer is usually 16% protein which has been shown to produce the most eggs. Some chickens need more calcium than others, so yes, oyster shell is a good idea. They won't eat much, but you want it there for the odd hen who needs the extra. .

    There are certainly people who do not feed layer, only provide calcium and, of course, grit. Individual choice.
  3. Jx2inNC

    Jx2inNC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2010
    Caraway, NC
    If you give them all-purpose or scratch, you'd want to throw in some oyster shell and/or granite, etc.
    With a good layer food, I've been told by the professionally knowledgeable that you do not need the additives.
  4. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I've had plenty good success feeding my whole flock Purina Flock Raiser (20% protein) and offering oyster shell for the layers. Works great when you free range multiple ages. I usually switch over to Layena when everyone is "of age" because it's pellets and less is wasted, but here lately it seems that they've really gotten a taste for our Co-Op's brand of "game bird conditioner" which is also 20% crumbles like the Flock Raiser. On the plus side it's slightly cheaper, so we are going back to using it instead of the layer feeds.

    FWIW I offer oyster shell on the side no matter what I'm feeding. The amount of calcium in the food is only an "average" and some hens may need more.
    Also some larger breeds seem to do better on the higher protein. Layer feed is ideally formulated for "layer birds" like the skinny Leghorns, not the heavier dual purpose breeds.

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