Feed question for 6-7 week old chicks

Jan 25, 2020
401
1,199
256
Manitoba, Canada
My chicks are starting to integrate themselves into the main flock.
They are 6-7 weeks old, and have been eating chick starter.
The main flock eats this (as fermented feed):

7 parts starter/grower (same as the chicks) @ 1% calcium and 20%protein, and 3 parts layer feed @ 4% calcium and 17% protein

Protein content for this mix is:
7x20=140
3x17=51
140+51= 191
191:10 =19.1% protein total

Calcium content for this mix is
7x 1=7
3x 4=12
7+12=19
19:10=1.9 % calcium total

Is it ok to keep the current mix for all, adults and chicks?

Thank you
 
Not for the laying hens, they need more calcium. I'd offer oyster shell on the side.

The chicks are more problematic. The studies have been on chicks eating the full equivalent of calcium in Layer. I have no knowledge of any studies done on calcium amounts other than Layer level or the level all other feeds use, somewhere around 1%. Could be more, could be less. I have no science studies to back up what I'm going to say.

In my opinion one bite will not kill them. The calcium issue is about how many grams they eat over the course of a day and even that is the average over several days. The more calcium they eat the more severe the potential problem. I don't know if that calcium content will cause any problems over time or not. Even with Layer level calcium not all chicks have problems, but the studies show that some do if that is all they eat. Would the chicks be OK with that diet? Most probably would, maybe even all of them.

My suggestion is to forget about Layer and feed them all the Starter. Offer oyster shell on the side. That's what many of us do, the ones that need the extra calcium seem to know it and eat enough while the ones that don't need it don't eat enough to harm themselves.

Some people get really hung up on the protein content but I don't worry about it. At that age the chicks should do fine on anything between 16% and 20%. Your hens should too.

I never feed Layer as I often have juveniles in the flock. When I have young chicks they all eat an 18% Starter/Grower. When they get a little older they all eat a 16% Grower, with oyster shell on the side.
 
Not for the laying hens, they need more calcium. I'd offer oyster shell on the side.

The chicks are more problematic. The studies have been on chicks eating the full equivalent of calcium in Layer. I have no knowledge of any studies done on calcium amounts other than Layer level or the level all other feeds use, somewhere around 1%. Could be more, could be less. I have no science studies to back up what I'm going to say.

In my opinion one bite will not kill them. The calcium issue is about how many grams they eat over the course of a day and even that is the average over several days. The more calcium they eat the more severe the potential problem. I don't know if that calcium content will cause any problems over time or not. Even with Layer level calcium not all chicks have problems, but the studies show that some do if that is all they eat. Would the chicks be OK with that diet? Most probably would, maybe even all of them.

My suggestion is to forget about Layer and feed them all the Starter. Offer oyster shell on the side. That's what many of us do, the ones that need the extra calcium seem to know it and eat enough while the ones that don't need it don't eat enough to harm themselves.

Some people get really hung up on the protein content but I don't worry about it. At that age the chicks should do fine on anything between 16% and 20%. Your hens should too.

I never feed Layer as I often have juveniles in the flock. When I have young chicks they all eat an 18% Starter/Grower. When they get a little older they all eat a 16% Grower, with oyster shell on the side.
Thank you so much for the detailed answer. That was very helpful. 🙂
 
@Ridgerunner has the right of it. I'm in a lot of pain right now, and I'm self medicating, which honestly doesn't help. Will keep this brief.

You are playing the odds. The studies all agree that calcium toxicity is progressive. The studies all agree that hatchlings are most susceptible, then juveniles, then roosters of all ages, then less productive hens.

The studies largely agree there is an (unknown) genetic component.

I liken it to smoking. No one can honestly tell you "that cigarette will give you lung cancer, or mouth cancer, or throat cancer, or whatever". On the other hand, anyone with command of even basic statistics can tell you that the more often you smoke, the longer you smoke, the earlier you begin smoking, the more likely you are to develop one of several cancers. That's statistics.

Excess calcium is the same way, with the very young the most susceptible - their bodies just aren't that "put together", and thus more vulnerable to damage during their formative weeks.

Now, having said that, I "play the odds" in my own feed management, mostly for reasons of cost. All my birds get a high protein (24%), low calcium feed for their formative weeks (8-9) when they are most vulnerable to nitruional deficits and calcium excess. After that, they join the adult flock, where I combine 24% protein, low calcium grower with 16% high calcium layer and end up with a 20% protein, 2.8% +/- calcium mix for my mixed age, mixed gender flocks.

But I do this knowing that almost all of my roosters will be culled and on the dinner table within 12 more weeks - not much time for that extra calcium to build up in their system. My "best" roosters will get a year - long enough that I can find signs of calcium build up internally, but not severe, and with no external presentation. MOST OF THE TIME. My hens are all moderate to high production, or they get culled early. The old one get till second molt - 30 months.

This is NOT a management style well suited to pet chickens. It involves educated risk taking. and, as with any time you step up to the table and rolls your dice, there are no guarantees.

If your flock plans are similar to mine, rapid turn over with short to moderate time frames, then the cost savings in feed may exceed the losses due to poor health/body condition. That's the same equation I evaluated for myself. If your flock plans more resemble pets or long term layers, with a time horizon of five or seven years in a mixed flock, the math would not add up to me. These are "gut odds", there's no easy formula, jist a sense of the thing from the literature and from limited experience.
 
@Ridgerunner has the right of it. I'm in a lot of pain right now, and I'm self medicating, which honestly doesn't help. Will keep this brief.

You are playing the odds. The studies all agree that calcium toxicity is progressive. The studies all agree that hatchlings are most susceptible, then juveniles, then roosters of all ages, then less productive hens.

The studies largely agree there is an (unknown) genetic component.

I liken it to smoking. No one can honestly tell you "that cigarette will give you lung cancer, or mouth cancer, or throat cancer, or whatever". On the other hand, anyone with command of even basic statistics can tell you that the more often you smoke, the longer you smoke, the earlier you begin smoking, the more likely you are to develop one of several cancers. That's statistics.

Excess calcium is the same way, with the very young the most susceptible - their bodies just aren't that "put together", and thus more vulnerable to damage during their formative weeks.

Now, having said that, I "play the odds" in my own feed management, mostly for reasons of cost. All my birds get a high protein (24%), low calcium feed for their formative weeks (8-9) when they are most vulnerable to nitruional deficits and calcium excess. After that, they join the adult flock, where I combine 24% protein, low calcium grower with 16% high calcium layer and end up with a 20% protein, 2.8% +/- calcium mix for my mixed age, mixed gender flocks.

But I do this knowing that almost all of my roosters will be culled and on the dinner table within 12 more weeks - not much time for that extra calcium to build up in their system. My "best" roosters will get a year - long enough that I can find signs of calcium build up internally, but not severe, and with no external presentation. MOST OF THE TIME. My hens are all moderate to high production, or they get culled early. The old one get till second molt - 30 months.

This is NOT a management style well suited to pet chickens. It involves educated risk taking. and, as with any time you step up to the table and rolls your dice, there are no guarantees.

If your flock plans are similar to mine, rapid turn over with short to moderate time frames, then the cost savings in feed may exceed the losses due to poor health/body condition. That's the same equation I evaluated for myself. If your flock plans more resemble pets or long term layers, with a time horizon of five or seven years in a mixed flock, the math would not add up to me. These are "gut odds", there's no easy formula, jist a sense of the thing from the literature and from limited experience.
Thanks for that.
I hope you feel better soon.
 
Happy to say I don't have any good pictures of severe cases I'm my flock. Sad to say, due to cheap cell phone and poor photographer (me) I don't have any good pictures of early signs.

The kidneys become irregularly shaped, there can be tiny surface lesions, and their texture becomes crumbly. White bits internally. You can also see swelling in the liver and irregular coloration in the liver (grey white rather than glossy yellowish) different than fatty liver. As it progresses, a chalky substance will begin to form on the inner organs - literally a calcium salt the body has been unable to excrete.

Externally you can see twisted toes in extreme cases unrelated to injury and other signs of gout.

It's supposed to be evident in the droppings as well, but I'm not that discerning. A skill I've yet to develop.
 
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Back
Top Bottom