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Does the food given up to 18 weeks affect when they will start to lay?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by msgenie516, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. msgenie516

    msgenie516 The Happy Hen

    May 16, 2008
    Nesconset, LI, NY

    My friend and I both purchased RIR's that are the same age and from the same source. I am one of those "annoying" people that has to follow the directions to the "letter" and I kept my chicks on chick starter to the age of 8 weeks and then switched to chick grower for an additional 10 weeks. The chicks are now 19 weeks old and I started them on layer pellets about a week ago. I never let them run out of food.

    My friend, however, was feeding them layer crumbles from an early age. I haven't seen his chicks lately but he tells me that they look like they could start laying any day. He tells me their combs became much larger and redder and they just act like they want to lay.

    I have 4 chicks and the combs on two of them have enlarged slightly and darkened in color a bit (nothing drastic). The other two show no signs of development on the combs. They are very small and still also a very light pink. I wouldn't consider any of them ready to lay.

    I'm wondering if I did something wrong. Has anyone else noticed anything like this? Thanks! Genie

  2. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Songster

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    You aren't supposed to feed layer food UNTIL they are laying. But I doubt it has a drastic effect on WHEN they lay. Each chicken is different. Some lay at 16 weeks, some lay at 33 weeks. It's a crapshoot.
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    You did the right thing, Genie!

    Your friend risked the health of his chicks by feeding them layer feed - too much calcium. The only way immature birds can get rid of calcium that amounts to 5 times their requirements is to pass it out of their bodies thru urine. They are not making egg shells once a day. The excess calcium puts a real burden on their urinary system.

    Calcium also builds up in their bodies forming deposits and enlarging the calcium storing parts of their skeletons. They probably have huge breast bones right now.

    It may not have been a fatal mistake by your friend but none of this was necessary nor good for the birds' health.

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  4. RIVERA69R

    RIVERA69R Songster

    Jun 9, 2008
    Quote:If your chickens are still healthy and happy you did everything right so far its not a race to see who lays first just enjoy! following directions and recommendations is not a bad thing

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