Feeding mixed maturity chickens

asvoyatsky

Chirping
Jun 6, 2019
11
37
61
Colorado
Hi! We have 4 chickens and one of them just started laying almost 2 weeks ago (yay!). All 4 chickens are 17 weeks old right now. Right after we got our first egg, she laid 2 more normal eggs, then 3 shell-less eggs. I switched completely to layer food and offered crushed oyster shell after the first 2 eggs to make sure she has enough calcium, but now I’m a little concerned that the other 3 chickens who aren’t laying are eating layer food. My Delaware chicken probably won’t start laying for at least another month and a half. I’ve read mixed suggestions, so now I have 2 smaller feeders- 1 with layer food, 1 with grower, and oyster shell. But of course I can’t control which of the foods they are eating, and this morning I got another shell-less egg so I’m concerned the laying hen is eating grower food, but at the same time I’m concerned about my hen who won’t lay for a while eating food with too much calcium. The laying hen is a Novogen, the other three are 2 barred rock and 1 Delaware. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
 

jeepgirl13

Crowing
Mar 13, 2013
1,065
2,059
336
Arizona
Hi! We have 4 chickens and one of them just started laying almost 2 weeks ago (yay!). All 4 chickens are 17 weeks old right now. Right after we got our first egg, she laid 2 more normal eggs, then 3 shell-less eggs. I switched completely to layer food and offered crushed oyster shell after the first 2 eggs to make sure she has enough calcium, but now I’m a little concerned that the other 3 chickens who aren’t laying are eating layer food. My Delaware chicken probably won’t start laying for at least another month and a half. I’ve read mixed suggestions, so now I have 2 smaller feeders- 1 with layer food, 1 with grower, and oyster shell. But of course I can’t control which of the foods they are eating, and this morning I got another shell-less egg so I’m concerned the laying hen is eating grower food, but at the same time I’m concerned about my hen who won’t lay for a while eating food with too much calcium. The laying hen is a Novogen, the other three are 2 barred rock and 1 Delaware. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

They sell all flock feed, which is what I feed my flock, and offer free choice oyster shell for calcium for the girls. I dont think you'll have any issues with the different feed consumption as long as you have oyster shell for the laying hen. I fed layer feed to a mixed flock of all ages for a long time, (except when I had babies, then everyone got chick start), until I read about the all flock, and decided to give it a try. I didnt have any problems.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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NY Southern Tier
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Hi! We have 4 chickens and one of them just started laying almost 2 weeks ago (yay!). All 4 chickens are 17 weeks old right now. Right after we got our first egg, she laid 2 more normal eggs, then 3 shell-less eggs. I switched completely to layer food and offered crushed oyster shell after the first 2 eggs to make sure she has enough calcium, but now I’m a little concerned that the other 3 chickens who aren’t laying are eating layer food. My Delaware chicken probably won’t start laying for at least another month and a half. I’ve read mixed suggestions, so now I have 2 smaller feeders- 1 with layer food, 1 with grower, and oyster shell. But of course I can’t control which of the foods they are eating, and this morning I got another shell-less egg so I’m concerned the laying hen is eating grower food, but at the same time I’m concerned about my hen who won’t lay for a while eating food with too much calcium. The laying hen is a Novogen, the other three are 2 barred rock and 1 Delaware. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
As suggested, you can feed Flock Raiser (Purina), All Flock (Nutrena) or any starter feed. You should aim to keep the flock on a complete feed that is 18-20% protein with oyster shell on the side, next to the feeder in a separate container. They can remain on this diet for life. Keep an eye on the oyster shell dispenser to ensure it has large pieces and not just powder in it.
Your pullets dropping softies is not at all uncommon. Their reproductive systems have to fully mature before the softies stop.
I would offer your active layer 1/2 of a human calcium with vitamin D, crushed up and mixed with a bit of yogurt or other wet treat. Give that to her once daily for about a week and hopefully she will start laying fully formed eggs.
 

IamRainey

Crowing
Aug 22, 2017
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Los Angeles (Woodland Hills); gardening zone 9B
They sell all flock feed, which is what I feed my flock, and offer free choice oyster shell for calcium for the girls.

That's what I do too. I also offer rinsed, microwave zapped and slightly crushed eggshell along with the oyster shell. They LOVE the eggshell and go for it in preference to the oyster shell every time. But it's hard to keep up with their appetite for it so they get oyster shell as well.

This system seems to work. All my laying ladies have robust shells. The juveniles seem to be thriving. ...tho consistent premature exposure to calcium would probably have a slowly developing effect. But I feel good that we're on the right track.
 

jeepgirl13

Crowing
Mar 13, 2013
1,065
2,059
336
Arizona
That's what I do too. I also offer rinsed, microwave zapped and slightly crushed eggshell along with the oyster shell. They LOVE the eggshell and go for it in preference to the oyster shell every time. But it's hard to keep up with their appetite for it so they get oyster shell as well.

This system seems to work. All my laying ladies have robust shells. The juveniles seem to be thriving. ...tho consistent premature exposure to calcium would probably have a slowly developing effect. But I feel good that we're on the right track.

I've read too much calcium in non laying birds, roosters namely, can cause kidney problems, but this was over a long period of time. This is what drove my change towards an all flock feed, because I had a super sweet rooster at that time.
 

Shamo Hybrid

Songster
Jun 6, 2018
1,979
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The other chickens are supposed to be fed layer so they can lay good first eggs. You don't have to wait until they lay eggs first and then start feeding them with layer. Just go ahead and use it.
 

asvoyatsky

Chirping
Jun 6, 2019
11
37
61
Colorado
The other chickens are supposed to be fed layer so they can lay good first eggs. You don't have to wait until they lay eggs first and then start feeding them with layer. Just go ahead and use it.

Even if one is about a month and a half-ish from laying? I’m less concerned for the other 2 because they’re already growing their mature features but the other hasn’t started
 

asvoyatsky

Chirping
Jun 6, 2019
11
37
61
Colorado
As suggested, you can feed Flock Raiser (Purina), All Flock (Nutrena) or any starter feed. You should aim to keep the flock on a complete feed that is 18-20% protein with oyster shell on the side, next to the feeder in a separate container. They can remain on this diet for life. Keep an eye on the oyster shell dispenser to ensure it has large pieces and not just powder in it.
Your pullets dropping softies is not at all uncommon. Their reproductive systems have to fully mature before the softies stop.
I would offer your active layer 1/2 of a human calcium with vitamin D, crushed up and mixed with a bit of yogurt or other wet treat. Give that to her once daily for about a week and hopefully she will start laying fully formed eggs.


This is very helpful. It’s just odd because I have plenty of oyster shell available and I just rarely see her eat it, and she’s still dropping soft eggs. I hope it’s because she’s still maturing! I’ll try offering some additional calcium to her. Thanks!
 

BigBlueHen53

We will get through this... together!
Mar 5, 2019
18,362
68,048
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SE Missouri, USA
I also switched from a layer feed to an all-flock formula recently (couple of months ago) because we had juvenile birds not yet laying and a couple of male birds. Just simpler to supply something they can all safely eat!
 

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