Feeding Mishap- help!


8 Years
Oct 12, 2011
San Diego, CA
I am new to chickens. I started my backyard flock in Oct with three 1 year old hens (P. Barred Rocks) and then I added two 4 month old hens (Black Australorps) in November. I have been feeding them all layer pellets (17% protein) and I just realized that maybe I should have been feeding the younger ones chick starter! They have definitely gotten bigger since I got them but their combs are still pretty small... have I stunted them? I'm worried that I may have messed up their development or something. What should I do?
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Relax. Everything will be fine with your younger birds. At 16 weeks especially with the shorter days, they are not ready to start laying. As they mature and daylength increases their combs will enlarge and they will start laying. All is good!
First of all, it is not what you should do. It is what you should not do. Don't panic.

Now that you are calm (yeah, right) this is a bit controversial topic on this forum. There are plenty of studies that clearly show that feeding Layer to chicks from Day 1 and where they don't eat anything else but that Layer is bad, very bad. How bad it is depends on how much total calcium they eat and for how long. One bite of Layer won't hurt them at all. If they eat a tiny amount of Layer and get most of their food by free ranging with Mama, they will be fine. The reason it is controversial is that there are a lot of variables involved and some grey areas.

There are not many studies out there to show what starting feeding Layer at other stages of life does to them. Fred's Hens referred to one study and I think it was Imp that posted the link to it where they gave extra calcium to commercial layers at 15-1/2 weeks to see if stockpiling some calcium and protein helped them in their early laying days. The results were inconclusive, which I interpret to mean it did not help or hurt them. Those were commercial layers, which yours are not.

I'm a believer in not giving them extra calcium until they start to lay, but I seriously doubt you hurt them. You can always feed them all Grower or something like that with oyster shell on the side for those that are laying and need the extra calcium, but I'd think at this point you will be fine leaving them on Layer.
Your doing fine, lots of good info on this site.
I have 4 australorps they were (5 months?) when I got them, I had them 2 months before they started laying, I feed them layer from the start.
They are doing great, laying perfect, strong shelled eggs.
I didn't think they was ever going to mature but when they did it was fast.
When you say that you fed them layer "from the start", does that mean at 1 day old?

No, I think he/she means from when he/she first got them at (5months old)
Here's what I've done & many will say I'm crazy. I live close to Bryan, College Station which is home of Texas A&M big agriculture school. There's a feed store in Bryan called Producers they mix & blend their own laying pellets. It states to start using their 17 % laying pellets at 8 weeks. I asked the head honcho their about doing this & he said yep you will be fine. So low & behold that's what I've done. Not saying everyone should do this but I did.
to clarify: I started layer feed when I got them at five months, I was told they was fed purina flock raiser before I had them.

I was told they would lay at sixth months, it wasn't until they was seven months for the 3 and my fourth layed her first egg today at seven and half months.

( that is if they was five months when I got them?) I think so but I wouldn't bet money on it.

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