Feeding a Mixed Age Flock...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by BonnieJean, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. BonnieJean

    BonnieJean Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2010
    Connecticut
    Hi! I have 8 pullets about that are around 25 weeks and added 4 new chicks a few weeks ago that are about 10 weeks now. They have been in the coop together for about two weeks now. The question I have is about their food... the man at the feed store told me that I could mix the organic layer feed that I'm giving to the older girls with scratch grain and that then they could all eat it. I also have free choice oyster shell and grit in separate dishes out for them. Am I doing the right thing or is there another option (preferably organic) for my girls? Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    I use game bird flyer finisher. All age groups can eat it with no problems allthough I do feed chick starter the first several weeks it wont hurt them if they should eat it because theres no added calcium which they shouldnt have till they are getting ready to lay. Right now I have 2 year olds, 1 year olds, 4 month olds and 3 week olds. I was also advised to make a box that only the chicks could get into to eat the starter so it wasnt wasted on the hens. I got a rubbermaid container, turned it upside down and used a utility knife to cut a small opening and it worked great.
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm not a big fan of mixing scratch in with feed, but I think your chicks will be okay... I've read also about the calcium thing (layer feeds/chicks), but I had to do that with a 12 week old I took in; she got what my layers ate and seems perfectly healthy. I think even when you go to great lengths to separate foods, they end up eating one another's to a certain extent anyhow... [​IMG]
     
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Cutting your feed with scratch isn't even a good idea for the older girls, let alone the chicks. Scratch is a treat. It is lacking in nutrition. Would you cut your salad with oreos to make it appeal more to kids?

    The best way to feed a mixed (age or species) flock is to feed a flock raiser (generally around 20% CP) and offer calcium separately for those who need it.
     
  5. BonnieJean

    BonnieJean Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2010
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    Olive Hill- I was thinking the same thing! It just didn't seem right to me... On top of that, I don't think the little ones are even eating the food... they seem to pick through and only eat the scratch...
    Thank you so much for all of you help everyone! I'm going to a different store today to get something better for the girls... I'll see if they have flock raiser or game bird flyer finisher.
    Thank you!!!!!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I personally do not feed the high powered feed to mine. The layer feed and grower feed specially formulated for chickens is about 16% protein, not 22%. The higher percent protein is meant for game birds. It also is good if you are mixing it with other stuff that cuts their overall protein intake down, closer to where it should be. It is all about how much protein they eat every day, not about percentages. They will eat more food in the winter to get enough calories to stay warm, so that is an especially bad time to feed a higher protein feed. In the summer, they will eat less total volume so upping the protein in the feed is not such a bad idea, especially if they are getting more stuff that is low in protein.

    Some people believe that the 16% is the minimum that the commercial operations can get away with, so that is what they use. I disagree. The 16% is the most efficient they have come up with to get the egg production they want in the egg size they want and to maintain the chicken's health. When I get my blood work from my check-up, the results are checked to see if they are in a certain range. A few things have either maximum high's or minimum lows, but most need to be in a range of highs and lows. Too much of a good thing can be harmful. Their body has to work extra hard to get rid of the excess protein, the stuff they don't need. It is not that they are going to fall over dead the instant they eat the higher protein feed. It is not that they are all going to be harmed. But the effects are gradual, building up over time in some of them, a lot like growing chicks eating too much calcium. Those effects are not immediate and will not affect all of them the same way, but over time, with a consistently high intake of calcium, it has been proven that growing chicks can develop bone and liver problems. Not that all of them do and not that they immediately have problems, but they can and many do.

    This is my opinion and I know a lot of people disagree. I don't know what else you are feeding yours, but I truly believe that if the feed is the majority of their diet, your chickens will be healthier if you follow the recommendations based the research done by a lot of major universities.

    Good luck however you decide.
     
  7. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First of all, just because someone works in a feed store it doesn't, necessarily, make them an expert on raising chickens. My advice is always to feed to the younger birds and supplement the older ones on a free choice basis. In other words, feed grower or flock raiser to your chickens and put up a side feeder with some oyster shell for the older birds as they get ready to lay. Keep the scratch in reserve to use sparingly when you want to gather the chickens or to put on a little extra fat to keep them warm in the winter--there is no earthly reason to feed scratch to chicks or young birds. Once your younger birds start to lay, then go to a layer feed.
     
  8. BonnieJean

    BonnieJean Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2010
    Connecticut
    Oh, thank you thank you thank you! You all have been so helpful. Without your input, I probably would have just kept on doing what I was doing, thinking the person at the feed store know what they were doing, especially with me being a newbie to all of this. I really do appreciate all of your help [​IMG]
     

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