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Hens temporarily on chick feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by puffypoo22, Sep 16, 2018 at 8:39 AM.

  1. puffypoo22

    puffypoo22 Crowing

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    Our nine week old chicks just integrated with the big girls, and apparently the chicks were eating the layer pellets as well as the chick feed. So we switched the layer feeder to starter/grower temporarily. Was this necessary? I don’t even think the chicks ate a lot of it. Would the extra calcium have killed them? And will my older hens be okay? We didn’t give any calcium supplement since we were about to leave and didn’t have any on us. I think next time we’ll switch to an all flock with calcium supplement in the side.
    But I feel like we were overreacting over nothing. I was not there to witness the chicks eating layer feed but my sister (who is known to be a worry wort) said that the chicks ate it and thought they were going to die. Thoughts?
     
  2. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Songster 6 Years

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    Are your older hens molting? -laying slowed down due to decreased daylight/molting? The chicks do not need layer feed because of the extra calcium. If your older birds are in a seasonal molt and have slowed egg production, I would think it fine to put everyone on starter/grower. (I just bought a bag of starter/grower for my seven year old hens. They are in the middle of molting, and aren't laying at all. -feed store was out of flock raiser and feather fixer, so non-medicated starter/grower was the next choice for boosted protein.) I think your flock will be fine, especially temporarily.
     
  3. Beer can

    Beer can Free Ranging

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    They'll be fine on chick starter, I usually if I have them separated just feed starter to both. The hens probably could benefit from some xtra protein after setting and not eating much for so long.
    I've also just fed layer crumbles or mash when the chicks are with a flock. Pellets are too big for chicks. Not recommended and not the best thing to do but I've never noticed anything detrimental in their growth or longevity. I've never taken weekly weights or anything and I imagine they grow a little slower but not that I've ever noticed.
     
  4. puffypoo22

    puffypoo22 Crowing

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    Yes I think they are molting since the silkies seem to be looking a bit rattier than usual. They don’t ever lay anything anyway, they are ancient broody things.
    What I’m wondering is, will they adjust to the feed or be more sensitive?
    And is calcium for chicks actually ‘deadly’ or just not the best option?
     
  5. True Patriot

    True Patriot Sanity is subjective Premium Member

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    I feed mine a 20% grower with oyster on the side. Chicks get chick feed only while in brooder, at integration they switch to what everyone else eats. Usually around 2-4 werks. My reasoning behind this is, I can't control their diet while free ranging. So I want the feed they do eat to be as much of a boost as possible. About twice a week they get a mash that includes vitamins and suppliments to further boost the intake of anything they may be missing in their diet.
     
    to BarbsGirls, aart, Shadrach and 3 others like this.
  6. Chickassan

    Chickassan Crossing the Road

    It will be fine! The calcium won't kill the chicks and no matter what you feed them "within reason" they'll adjust. Iv'e had the whole flock eat starter, layer and all flock feed just depending on whats available and nobody died or even seemed to notice. I just do the flock feed now, and calcium on the side. The chicks do sample the calcium, but I figure if they didn't need it they wouldn't bother.:)
     
  7. True Patriot

    True Patriot Sanity is subjective Premium Member

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    Calcium in normal amounts won't harm them. There's calcium in starter feed. It's the increased amount in layer feed that's not the best for them. This is where opinions differ, and the effects are long term not immediate. Too much of anything can be harmful, personally I think it's best to offer the calcium separate and let them decide how much they need.
     
    to BarbsGirls, aart, Shadrach and 3 others like this.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

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    There is a lot of debate on here about how dangerous the extra calcium is to growing chicks or even non-laying chickens. A lot of it is opinion, very little is actual fact. I've seen studies that clearly show that if chicks eat Layer and nothing but Layer the mortality rate is higher. That means more chicks die than average. In those studies, they cut chicks open to see what damage is done to internal organs. On nothing but Layer there is internal organ damage. Not all chicks die. Not all chicks have internal organ damage. But if they eat nothing but Layer more chicks die and many have internal damage, some of it permanent.

    Now to my opinion. It is not about how much calcium is in one bite. It is about how many total grams of calcium they eat in the entire day and even then it is the average over several days. They are not going to immediately fall over dead if they take one bite, it is a cumulative effect.

    If they eat other low calcium food, the effects of the extra calcium in layer are reduced. How much that effect is reduced depends on how much other stuff they eat and how much calcium is in that other stuff. My broody hens usually take their chicks to the feeders first thing in the morning and maybe once more later in the day. The rest of the time they have them out pecking at the ground and on grass. I don't feed Layer at all, the entire flock always gets Grower with oyster shell on the side. Layer probably would not have much, if any, effect on my broody raised chicks while they are with the broody, but I don't know that. After the broody weans them they would probably eat more of the feed, whether Layer or Grower.

    Then you have the question about how much the non-laying adults, roosters or hens not laying because of the molt or age, are affected by the excess calcium. There is one study out there that shows eating nothing but Layer can harm roosters. Can, not necessarily will each and every time.

    There are so many unknowns about how much extra calcium it takes to affect non-laying chickens and growing chicks and I have little to no control over how much any one chicken eats of the feed I give them. Also, Grower, Starter, or All-Flock has the basic nutrients any of them need for basic health and productivity other than calcium for egg production. To me the simplest solution is to not feed my mixed flock Layer but give the something else and offer oyster shell on the side for those that need the extra calcium for egg shell production.
     
    Aceoky, to BarbsGirls, aart and 4 others like this.
  9. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Crossing the Road

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    I am not a nutritionist, a vet, nor an expert. There is no way to know if the extra calcium would kill them, but I think it's possible (depending on the age they start eating layer feed) that excess calcium could cause some complications/future health problems.

    Do some research on the subject, looking for scientific journal articles on the affects of too much calcium in the diet of chicks and non-laying birds.

    ""Noninfectious Visceral gout can be caused by a few things such dehydration, ingestion of feed containing >3% calcium by nonlaying chickens, vitamin A deficiency, and exposure to myotoxins"" https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poul...s-of-poultry/urate-deposition-gout-in-poultry

    See @ChickenCanoe post about excess calcium in roosters HERE

    A while back, an BYC poster had problems with their pullets - x-rays and testing revealed urate crystals in the abdomen - likely due to excess calcium in the diet. https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/mystery-disease-help.1198384/

    When it's all said and done, they are your chickens, so feed how you see fit. Personally, I prefer to use Flock Raiser since I have a mixture of chickens - this can be fed to chickens of any age/stage of life - there is no having to switch feeds or worry about who gets what.

    Just my 2¢

    edited only to correct my horrible auto correct spelling
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018 at 12:31 PM
  10. puffypoo22

    puffypoo22 Crowing

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    That’s what I thought.
    I think next time we’ll get an all flock or starter/grower for all with oyster shells on the side.
    I think it will benefit not only my chicks but also my bantams ages 9 and 4-5.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018 at 12:24 PM

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