How does one go about raising chickens together of different ages eating different food?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by elizabet253, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. elizabet253

    elizabet253 Chirping

    Sep 7, 2014
    I have 7 chickens who are 4 months old, not yet laying, my friend is giving me 6 of her chickens who are laying. How do i go about having the two flocks living together when they need different type of food? Or can I feed the adult hens start and grow food until the other 7 are old enough? But then future wise if I have babies and move in teenagers into the flock, how do I go about feeding them while also feeding my layers their feed?

    Also, do I have to worry about my teenage hens trying to establish a pecking order with the adults?
    Even the teens will try to fight the adults? And why isn't layer feed good for roosters? I have two.... Thanks for the provided advice though. I'll make my birds chill with the goats for a week and let the adults have the coop.

    Last Question: So if I feed all flock all purpose feed to all my chickens no matter age, gender, etc. do I have oyster shells available free range? Would it be okay for a chick to eat it? or a rooster? Or will they tend to stay away from it?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    With mixed age flocks it's easiest to feed something like Purina's All Flock and just make sure to provide oyster shell on the side for the laying hens.

    Yes, there will be a pecking order issue with the new birds you intend to integrate, no way around it. Chickens do NOT like newcomers and they can be brutal. It is best to keep them separated by a fence for a week or so and let them get used to each other and let everybody settle down some. They will still have some scuffles when you do eventually let them out together and you will need to keep an eye on them in case anything gets out of control. There will be some jumping, kicking, chasing and pecking. That's normal and fine as long as no blood is drawn. The more room they have during this time the better, you don't want to do integrations in small spaces!
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    Similar to what cafarmgirl said...You can feed a mixed flock just about any chicken feed other than layer feed. Just supply crushed oyster shell on the side and the hens currently laying will eat the oyster shells and the rest of the flock will mostly leave it alone. You can feed chick starter, grower, broiler, all flock, etc.

    We never feed layer feed anymore because we have a mixed flock like yours. And during the times we do have all adult hens, never are they all laying, for one reason or another. And we have roosters now, too, layer feed isn't good for them either.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto, already said, but:
    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and all molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein.

    Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat and have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.

    Combining flocks and/or adding new birds can be tricky.
    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.
    See if any of them, or the links provided, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens to flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    X 3 for simply using a grower ration for all birds with supplemental calcium for active layers.
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Another vote for grower or all flock. Oyster shell scattered on the ground in the run every so often for them to scratch for. Everyone eats the same feed.

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