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Feeding 8 week old chicks

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by From the North, May 14, 2013.

  1. From the North

    From the North Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2013
    My 11 pullets are 8 weeks old today. The Chick Starter feed instructions are to feed up to 8 weeks old, then switch to a Grower feed. I went to the feed store today and picked up a "Grower/Finisher" feed but was surprised to see the protein content of the Grower at 15%. Isn't that a bit low?

    From my research it seems you start out with higher protein, then back off a bit to allow them to grow up without growing too fast, then switch to layer ration when they actually start to lay.

    I was planning on mixing the remaining Starter with the Grower until I use up the Starter.

    They are living in a chicken tractor for the summer with limited free-ranging (evenings and weekends) and kitchen scraps (including hard-boiled egg yolks from a cholesterol-fearing relative who saves them for us).

    Any help would be great -- These are my first chickens, and I acknowledge that I have a lot yet to learn!
     
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmm. I mean, I don't think it's terrible but it is lower than I would want personally. Does your feed store sell an unmedicated starter? It would be the same effect as switching to a grower but would likely have higher protein. If the protein is higher than you are wanting it would be much easier to mix in some grains to lower a protein than it would be to try to increase it.

    These are regular hens and not a meat breed, correct?

    My concern with the 15% is that if you are planning on giving them any treats or snacks other than feed then the overall balance will be a bit low depending on what and how much you are feeding them.

    I personally actually feed an organic starter 20% protein to all of my birds at all life stages. I reduce this overall protein with a wheat, barley and BOSS fodder mix and just add oyster shell on the side rather than using a layer.

    There are lots of different options when it comes to feed. Starter > grower > layer is sort of the general standard but is not the only right answer.

    Good luck!
     
  3. From the North

    From the North Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2013
    Thanks for the reply. I was thinking it would be easier to lower the protein than increase it since the "treats" I'm feeding are generally low protein. Now I'm thinking perhaps I should buy another bag of starter and mix it with this grower feed.

    I also have started throwing them a handful or two of BOSS and oats to scratch because i have them on hand for the horses anyways.

    And yes, these are layers and not a meat breed (although some are dual-purpose). I have 3 Barred rocks, 2 Black sex links, 2 red sex links, 2 New Hampshire X's, and 2 Columbian rock X's.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  4. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    In a large setting where one is brooding hundreds or thousands of birds at a time and careful comparisons are made it probably is best to move them to a lower protein grower feed in the eight to twelve week range. In the small-scale I can say that I've gone both ways. Some flocks I moved them to grower feed at the appropriate time while others I've kept on starter (18-21% depending on brand) all the way until I found the first eggs.

    Frankly I could not discern a whit of difference between the two groups. I raise commercial sex-links and Leghorns as well as breeding and hatching my own Easter Eggers. No difference in health, rate of lay, or anything else that I can see. Now I just keep them all on starter until they begin to lay. When I find the first eggs I begin to transition them over to layer feed.
     
  5. From the North

    From the North Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2013
    Thanks for sharing your experience. If only I fretted this much about my macro-nutrient ratios!!
     
  6. From the North

    From the North Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2013
    As a spin-off question, is there a difference between grower feeds for layers vs meat birds?
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Usually the Grower for broilers is higher in protein. Trace elements may also be different due to the vast difference in the way broilers mature and muscle so rapidly versus a layer variety.
     

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