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Feeding Grower!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Bryam, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Bryam

    Bryam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello!
    I have only 4 adults Silkies and I was thinking of incubating some eggs, since they take months to eat the 50 lbs bags of food that they sell at the feed store, can I buy grower instead of layer and feed the chicks crushed grower food and add crushed egg shells to the adults food? Supplement the need for calcium with the eggs shells. Thus, having to only buy one food instead of Chick Starert and Layer! Which the chick Starter would go bad long before half the vag is eaton! Since my silkies lay every second or third day, do they really need later good anyway! I am hoping chicks would do well on crushed grower food!
    Meet me know your thought!!

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a lot of different things you can do. The only real rule is to not feed growing chicks Layer because of the extra calcium. That would include do not mix a calcium supplement with their food. Offer it on the side.

    A lot of people get really bent out of shape over percent protein. In your application and for most of us it’s not that critical. If you are raising chickens for meat, yes they need a higher protein diet. If you are raising them for show, they need a higher protein diet to reach that larger size that helps win ribbons. For a commercially laying flock they have a special diet to help the chickens reach their maximum economical potential. But for a backyard laying or decorative flock, it’s just not that critical.

    The general idea is to feed chicks that will become a laying flock a fairly high protein feed the first 4 to 8 weeks to help get them off to a good start, then cut back to a lower protein feed to allow their skeleton and internal organs to mature more in line with general body growth. The timing of when you switch is not really that critical.

    On the egg shells. A hen does not absorb and process all the calcium she eats. A fair portion passed unabsorbed through her system and out the back end. If you rely solely on their own eggs to supplement their calcium, it’s a losing proposition. But a lot of chickens get calcium from other things they eat, some plants, hard-shelled creepy-crawlies, or if your native rock is limestone, even the gravel they eat as grit. If their egg shells are firm they are getting enough calcium from somewhere. If the egg shells are thin, you should offer some more.

    If all yours eat is Layer, they should get enough calcium from that for their egg shells without you supplementing the calcium at all, even with egg shells. Since yours are not laying every day, the calcium they get from the Layer and egg shells would probably be more calcium than they need. Since they are not laying every day, the egg shells are probably not even necessary.

    What I suggest for your specific situation is about what I suggest for practically everyone. Get a bag of 18% to 20% protein feed that is not Layer and a bag of oyster shells. Keep feeding that feed to everybody until you run out. It doesn’t matter is that is 4 weeks or 12 weeks. Even later would be OK. Then switch to a Grower. I don’t know what is available to you, probably somewhere around 16%. Offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the extra calcium for the egg shells instinctively seem to know they need it. The ones that don’t generally know enough to not eat enough to harm themselves. Keep feeding that until the babies are old enough for Layer, or keep feeding it forever. That’s what I do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  3. Bryam

    Bryam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So the 18 to 20 percent protien has to be starter or grower food? What is the difference from giving eggshells or oyster shells, aren't they both calcium?

    Thanks!;)
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The 18% to 20% can be called Starter, Grower, Flock Raiser, or something else. Look on the tag on the bag for the analysis. You are looking for two things. One is percent protein. The other is percent calcium. If the percent calcium is somewhere between 0.5% and 1.5%, that works. If it is over 2% that’s too much. It doesn’t matter what it is called. Different manufacturers call it different things.

    Yes egg shells are mostly calcium. You can feed those back to them.
     
  5. Bryam

    Bryam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So just to make sure that I got it! I can feed the 18-20 protien food to all the birds, chicks and adults, and supplement calcium with egg shells for my laying hens?
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    This is exactly what I've done for 20 years. Makes things easy--everyone eats the same feed, no matter the age or gender. I will occasionally get thinner shelled eggs, that tells me I need to toss some oyster shell in to boost what they get from the eggshells.
     

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