1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Hopefully some easy to answer questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MattalynsBarn, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. MattalynsBarn

    MattalynsBarn Songster

    Jun 11, 2010
    Okay so my girls are 12 weeks old and I have a few questions:
    When do I switch from medicated chick feed to layer feed?
    Is the first egg safe to eat even though they might still have some of the medicated feed in their system?
    Is it too early to put the golf balls out?
    And I'm sure I'll come up with more questions along the way so please keep an eye out!

    Thank you!

  2. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Look on your bags of feed, most of them recommend feeding the starter until 18-20 weeks of age. The layer feed has extra calcium to replenish hens making eggs, but that isn't good for growing pullets' kidneys.

    I've heard some folks say their hens have begun to lay as early as 16 weeks (!) but mine usually don't start until 20-24 weeks. If your girls begin to lay at 18-20 weeks, before you've begun the switch to layer feed, I *think* it would be okay to eat those eggs, unless you have a particular sensitivity to antibiotics. You could play it safe & switch them to a non-medicated chick starter at around 16 weeks of age, then on to layer feed at 18-20 weeks.

    You could go ahead & put the nest boxes & golf balls out now, but I don't know if it would inspire them to lay any earlier than their systems are programmed for. You'll know they're getting close when their combs get redder and they may squat in front of you when you reach to pat their backs.

    The only way I know how to make your hens lay any earlier is to go out and buy the most expensive specialty organic free-ranged cage-free hand-collected eggs from the store. The farther you travel & the more you spend on these, the more likely the chance your hens will have laid their first eggs, probably in the driveway, during your absence so you will run over their eggs when you return.
  3. sixxchixx

    sixxchixx Songster

    Aug 10, 2010
    Escondido, CA
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Because it's available at my favorite feed store, I switch from medicated chick starter to non-medicated feed at 8 weeks - "grower/finisher" feed. Pretty much similar to FlockRaiser. I don't switch to layer feed at all, because I have so many different ages of chickens in the flock. I simply keep crushed oyster shell available free choice, in two locations: in an empty tuna tin nailed to a coop wall next to a feeder, and tossed out onto the ground in a specific spot in the yard (so the ducks can utilize it, too). Those that need it, take it. Those that don't, taste it but don't eat much.

    It's too hard for me to try to segregate layers from "not yet laying" and keep the layers out of the grower/finisher feed or the youngsters out of the layer feed. This works for me. Originally, I left layer feed in the coop feeder where the layers roosted, and put the grower/finisher feed out for the pack o' youngsters. But the layers ate the grower/finisher and their eggs began to get softer shells. So I switched EVERYONE to the layer/finisher and added the free choice crushed oyster shell. Fixed the problem.

    Dunno what others would say, but I'd put the golf balls out just so you don't forget to do so when one of 'em lays. And I do not believe the amprolium in the chick start is one of the medications you need to worry about encountering in eggs... And Sunny_Side_Up is absolutely correct about being unable to "make" hens lay earlier! (You don't want to do that, anyway.)
  5. Kait27

    Kait27 Songster

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central Massachusetts
    I'd switch to a grower/finisher at the age of your chicks- I think I switched mine around 8-9 weeks, when i ran out of my first bag of starter.
    Definitely don't switch to Layer until at least 16 weeks. I think I switched to Layer around 18 weeks, and mine didn't lay until 24 weeks. (Buffs tend to be late bloomers.) I'd hold off on opening the next boxes, only because you don't want them to think this is a neat place to poop. You are correct that you don't want to eat eggs laid by a medicated chicken, but your girls should be far enough removed from it by that time. I think there's a rule for 7 days med-free before you eat an egg. The same goes for any future meds you may administer should the chickens get sick.
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    You probably should switch away from medicated feed now and it'll be well out of their system by the time they lay. Don't be over anxious to go to layer until all your girls are laying--feed nonmedicated grower or flock raiser until then with oyster shells on the side for those that need the calcium. Depending on breed you probably have a couple of months or more to wait.
  7. MattalynsBarn

    MattalynsBarn Songster

    Jun 11, 2010
    So just to make sure I'm on the right page, I should switch my 12 week old SS's and EE's to non-medicated grower/finisher now, put out a dish of oyster shells at about 16 weeks, add golf balls around the same time, then switch to layer when they are all laying? I knew some of this already, but it's nice to double check.

  8. turtlebird

    turtlebird Songster

    Dec 11, 2009
    Quote:Perfect! You got it!
    I put the decoy eggs out at 15 weeks, I have a couple of hybrid stars that began laying in their 16th week. We are now at 19 weeks and I am starting to blend a little layer feed in with the unmedicated grower for transitioning of feed.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by