Feeding Adult birds and Younguns together.


Apr 21, 2015
Abita Springs, LA
My growing pullets are housed and feed together with my adult birds. There currently is no practical way to separate their feeding. I was feeding the younguns chick starter crumbles and the adults layer pellets in separate feeders. The adults would/will raid the chick feeder and now that the pullets are nearly full sized, but not laying yet, they readily eat the adult layer food. They all have access to a large run where they eat what ever nature has to offer, plus the scratch that I throw out. Going "by the book", my pullets should probably still be on chick grower feed for another 6 weeks or so. Should I still be worrying about the food source/type, continue to offer both and not worry about who eats what, or what? There is free choice oyster shell and grit available. Everyone seems healthy and happy, but egg production is down a bit. The younger birds have been with the adults long enough for any "introduction stress" to have been resolved and pecking order issues are established.
The general recommendation is to feed all flock or chick start to everyone until the pullets are old enough for layer if you have a mixed flock (offering calcite grit or oyster shell on the side).

You can, however, take into consideration the type of pullet. Commercial line production hybrids such as Red Sex Links and Production Reds can actually benefit from earlier introduction of the calcium in layer feed. It helps support their growth for the earlier laying they will begin (typically 18 to 22 weeks).

If you have more "heritage" type breeds, that mature more slowly, then you do not want to introduce the layer feed too soon as they won't be ready to lay until about 24 to 28 weeks.

Another thing to consider is that your pullets are maturing in lengthening daylight, meaning they will lay earlier than those that were hatched in fall. (Daylight affects the pituitary gland which releases the hormones for the reproductive cycle).

I find my pullets hatched in early spring/late winter by a broody mature quickly and lay early, so they need the calcium support earlier.

I have also ran out of chick start with 12 to 14 week old pullets in the flock and simply provided layer for everyone and have never had issues.

The problems with layer feed calcium is if the young chicks get it too young for an extended period before they are ready. It can cause gout and/or be hard on their kidneys as the calcium builds up in their system.

All that to say, if you've got another 6 weeks to go, you've probably got 12 week old pullets. If they aren't RSL or Production Reds, it is probably better to put everyone on all flock for another 4 weeks then switch to layer if you see your older hens production is still lackluster even with the oyster grit (which they don't all eat well).

My thoughts
Thanks for your detailed reply, LofMc! My pullet flock is comprised of 4 Production Reds, 4 Light Brahmas, 3 Black Sexlinked, and 4 New Hampshire Reds. My adult birds are one Prod. Red, 2 EE, 2 Buff Orpingtons and one Barred Rock. So I should just feed them all Chick Starter for another 6 weeks, with free choice oyster shell?

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