Over the past three years I have raised two flocks of chickens from chicks. All my chickens (14) are free range, though I lock them up in the henhouse at night for safety. In the morning I put fresh layer pellets and crumbles in a feeder and throw out some corn for them to fight over, but mostly they are out and about and all around the farm doing whatever they please. I give them a little thrown out corn late in the day. They are happy and healthy chickens! Now I have a hen that will hatch out chicks any day now. Her nest is safe and secure inside the hen house and she is locked up at night like the other chickens...and is free to come and go during the day. I have decided to let this laying hen take over and do it the old fashioned way - without my help! My question though, is 1. Will it hurt the chicks if they get into some of the layer pellets and cracked corn? 2. I have feed that is in crumbles but it is not chick starter - is not feeding them chick starter putting them at a disadvantage? 3. Will the mother hen instinctively know what to teach them to eat and what not to eat as it relates to the layer feed? I know I can feed them chick starter, but that would mean keeping them penned up (building a new pen - not able to do this right now) to keep the layer hens from eating the chick starter. I'm trying to keep this simple. Suggestions?