What in the world do I feed my flock? I've got so many questions. We have a small flock (under a dozen) and hatch eggs about once a month to have a constant supply of meat birds. When the chicks are about 10 weeks old they are moved from the brooder and join the rest of the flock. We had been letting them eat the layer pellets. I read on this site that the excess calcium could shorten their life span, which really wasn't an issue! But now we have some pullets that we would like to keep as layers. We've been trying to feed them grower/finisher separatly from the rest of the flock each morning, but it's been a pain! The bigger chickens go over and eat their food, scaring them away, then they turn around and start eating the layer pellets I had spread on the ground for the hens! Or I'll let the bigger hens out to free range and keep the rest in the run, but then I have to remember to let them out later, when they promptly go over to the pile of layer pellets! Now that our bag of grower/finisher is gone, I'd like to feed everybody the same thing. But I've heard so many conflicting bits of advice: --Don't feed chicks layer feed; it will shorten their lifespan. (from BYC thread) --Feed them whole flock feed. (from BYC thread) --Never heard of whole flock feed. Maybe it's scratch feed. (every local feed store) --Chickens need more protein to be good layers. If they're free-ranging, the 16% layer feed may not be giving them enough protein. (BYC thread) --Scratch feed has 8% protein. (ingredients label) --Once the chicks are high enough to reach the feeder, they are old enough to eat the pellets. (from a local farmer) I hope you can see my dilemma. How early can they start eating pellets and still live long, happy, egg-laying lives? Is there anything that we can give the meat birds to "beef them up" before the slaughter? Is there anything out there with lots of protein but less calcuim, and then I can suppliment with oyster shell? WHAT IN THE WORLD DO I FEED MY CHICKENS?