Feeding young and old together

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chicks47, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

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    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Hi all, we recently added some new chicks to our little flock. We had two girls, two years old that free range, have their food in the coop as needed. We just introduced the 'babies' now 9 weeks old to the big girls. They all seem to be getting along great for the most part. My dilemma is that the babies should still be on their grower feed and the big girls the layer. So I replaced the food inside the coop with the grower feed. I thought I remembered that it would be okay for older hens to eat that... may not produce as much, but not a big deal. So when I let them all out of the coop in the morning, I like to give my big girls a chance to have 'their' food. However, the babies seem to find it as well. How bad is it if the little ones eat a bit of the layer feed this early? How bad is it if my big girls just don't get any layer feed for a few more weeks. Which is better or worse?
    They are all out pecking the bugs and grass for the better part of the day too.

    Also, just as a note. We cannot separate them too much anymore 'on the range' as our girls used to be free rangers and are now into a limited range area as we are trying to sustain our garden this year instead of giving it up to the hens. They still have a decent sized area, but again, not given the full yard.

    Thanks for any information. Just want to make sure they all get a proper diet.
     
  2. Put the layer feed away for a few months. Keep it dry and out of the way.

    All chickens can eat Grower. All chickens can eat starter, although it is quite high in protein. All chickens can eat an All Flock or Flock Raiser type feed.
    Just offer the laying hens some shells on the side. Their bodies can crave them, but the non-layers don't crave them and usually aren't interested in them. Done.
     
  3. myfivegirls

    myfivegirls Songster

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    Jan 12, 2009
    Delhi, NY
    It's fine to give the hens the chick grower (mine is 16% protein, just like the layer mash), as long as the hens have some free choice oyster shells, too. Otherwise, their egg shells could get too thin without the extra calcium in the layer mash. The chicks, on the other hand, aren't supposed to eat the layer mash at a young age, due to the extra calcium as it's not good for their proper growth. So, overall, I would say that it would be better for all of them to eat the grower/raiser food (should be 16% protein).

    The problem I am having is that the hens (2 yrs & 1 yr old) want to eat the chick's (9 weeks, too) grower feed and therefore, "hog" the feeder all day long and don't let the young ones eat it at all. So, I've been trying to just feed them (both hens and chicks - but in seperate coops) in the evening, when they go back inside the coop & so they have enough in the morning to eat, too. There's sometimes just a little food left over in the morning when I let them outside, but the hens quickly eat that up! Even though they have plenty of grass, bugs & compost to find food during the day, in the evening, the young ones are starved and almost trample me when I refill their feeders!
    The other option that I've been trying is to prevent the older hens from eating so much of the chick's food is to put the chick's food in a small contained area with a small hole for the chicks to go through. For example, I have some metal dog crates or bird cages that I can put the food inside, and the bigger hens can't get inside, as long as the hole is small enough. You'd be surprised how small the "big girls" can get through!

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

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    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Thank you both for the information. I figured the grower feed is the better options. But I will get some oyster shells out for the big girls. I knew they would miss something without 'their' feed.

    I thought we were pretty lucky that everyone seems to be getting along so well out there. I see the big girls puff up and scare the little ones away from an area every now and then, but nothing physical that I have seen yet.

    Good luck with your feed situation. [​IMG]
     
    Amydls likes this.

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