feed question

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bhadrika, May 6, 2007.

  1. bhadrika

    bhadrika In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2007
    Mansfield, MA
    The short version is how important are the "rules" about what to feed who when?

    We have 23 birds, about 2/3 meat and 1/3 pullets, all about eight weeks old. Everything says the meat should have ideally been eating meat-bird-food from the start, but definitely by now, and the pullets chick starter all the way until they start laying, and no one should get layer pellets until they are laying.

    My local feed store only sells chick starter and layer pellets. Before the chicks arrived, when I was trying to get prepared, I got a 50lb bag of "chicken feed" -- layer pellets. It's sitting around, but other things also say to use food within three months, so I'm either going to be throwing it out or breaking either the "use by date" rule or the "no layer pellets till laying" rule. And then there's the whole issue of whether my boys have enough protein, and if not -- smaller birds? Or a more dire problem? I'm not sure if the chick starter is terribly more expensive than the pellets, but there is the fact that we're running low again, I've got a busy week ahead of me, and I'd love to be able to use the food (pellets) we have.

    So, anyone know where these rules come from and how important they are? What would happen if I gave them pellets now, or switched back and forth (pellets just when we run low on starter)? and what can I do to get enough protein into them, if I can't find broiler food?

  2. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    Meat birds will develop out better on starter than on a layer ration if you don't have access to a broiler food. There really isn't a lot of difference between starter and broiler starter. Birds may take a little longer to get to full weight is all.

    Are your meat birds a cornish cross? You can also add black oil sunflower seeds to the mix to make up for any short falls in the pellets and starter. You can use the pellets, but just remember if you do, add a bowl of grit for them to pick through.

    The rules are nothing more than guidlines for optimal growth and production. Many people break these rules and add other items to chick diets. Many times with better results than by following package directions and the accepted norms.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    The feed will last a few months and I'm sure letting it sit for an extra two won't be too bad for them. As for layer, it has high levels of calcium so you shouldnt give it to baby chicks. I start switiching over at about 3-4 months even though that is a bit early but easiest for me to do. As for meat vs layer starter, doesnt really mater in my opinion, just watch the meat birds health and restrict food if they start getting large hocks due to rapid weight gain. If all they get is processed feed, they won't need any grit yet as that stuff disolves.
  4. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    The higher calcium levels in the layer feed are too high for the growing chicks and it can damage their kidneys, which could cause renal failure and death. Layer feed should not be fed to true meat birds, and they are usually processed long before they would be old enough to lay.

    If you don't have a weather/water tight place for storing the layer feed until the birds are old enough for it, you might be better off returning the layer feed to the store and exchanging it for other feed.

    What brand feed are you using? Is it definitely Starter Feed or is it a Start & Grow Feed? If it is Start & Grow Feed, the birds can stay on that until they are about 18-20 weeks old. If it is starter feed, maybe you can find a Game Bird Starter/Grower Feed instead of the Starter Feed. The Game Bird is a little higher in protein, but should be fine.

    For our laying flock, our rooster eats layer crumbles and hasn't had any problems. But our flock did not get the layer feed until they were 18 weeks. old

    if edited, probably for typos...
    Last edited: May 7, 2007

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