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How long to use medicated chick starter?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by happima, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. happima

    happima Chirping

    Sep 14, 2011
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Running out of my initial bag of chick starter and need to buy some more. Wondering how long I should be feeding the chicks the medicated chick starter. The person I bought them from indicated 6 weeks. The guy at the feed store said I could keep them on medicated feed for 4 months. What's the right answer?

    Also, the feed store near me sells Purina brand medicated chick starter. Is that fine or should I look for more options?


  2. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    I had good luck with the Purina brand. My chicks loved it and they actually grew a ton and got beautiful coloring after starting it.
    Having said that, a lot of people suggested that the Purina brand doesn't have enough protein. It only has 18% where others have 20%+, and folks on this board say that chicks should have more protein. I can't speak for that, being fairly new at this - just wanted to share. As for when to take them off, best advice I've seen is this: when you see them start to lay, take them off the starter and switch them to laying feed.
    Good luck!
  3. AngelzFyre

    AngelzFyre Songster

    Sep 18, 2007
    Pell City, Alabama

    Some do switch to a grower or game feed earlier but I keep mine on Start n Grow til 16 weeks then start switching over to Flock Raiser. At 18 weeks I put oyster shell out in free choice feeder for the pullets since the Flock Raiser isn't specifically for laying hens. I use Flock Raiser for the addt'l protein level, and for me personally... I found that my flocks do better on that than the Layena. Their eggs are larger and they recoup faster from molts with the extra boost.
  4. diamond622

    diamond622 Hatching

    Sep 20, 2011
    Nice posts! Thanks for the information.
  5. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    I have a mixed flock, all my older girls are laying, 3 roos and 3 pullets at 15 weeks...I still use Starter/Grower with oyster shell on the side for the big girls, I will switch to Layer feed when all of the start to lay...I heard Flockraiser is better when you have roos also, with oyster shell on the side...I have problems finding that in my little rural area though.
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Agree with longer. When they hit the dirt, at 7-9 weeks, is when they really need the blocker, imho. If you've sought the protection thus far, go another bag for the peace of mind.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I'm pretty sure the medication in the Purina medicated is Amprolium. If it is something other than Amprolium, what I am about to say is wrong. But I do not think I am wrong.

    Amprolium is not an antibiotic. It inhibits the protozoa that causes Coccidiosis from reproducing. It does not totally stop the protozoa from reproducing, but it slows it down. It is OK for some of the protozoa to be in the chick's system. That way, the chick will develop an immunity. The danger is when the number of protozoa gets out of hand. The protozoa can also live in wet chicken manure, so the real danger from Cocci is when the chickens are in a wet brooder, coop, or run. Usually, if the brooder, coop, and run are pretty dry, Cocci is not a threat, but it does absolutely no harm to feed the medicated feed to the chicks.

    The medicated feed is a total waste and will do you absolutely no good if the protozoa is not present to start with. How can it inhibit the protozoa from reproducing if it is not there to start with? But you don't really know if it is there or not, so again, it does no harm to feed it.

    A chick will develop an immunity to the protozoa within two to three weeks once the protozoa is present, as long as it stays active in their system the entire time. The younger the chick is, the easier it is for it to develop that immunity. An older chick or chicken is more likely to have problems than a really young chick. As long as the coop and run are pretty dry, it is usually not a big problem, but Cocci can hit older chickens pretty hard. It can hit the babies too, but older chickens are more at risk.

    Your biggest risk is when they are first introduced to the protozoa. If you have taken them out to the ground or brought something in to them, they may have been exposed, but many brooder raised chicks get their first exposure when they first hit the ground. So I suggest you continue them on the medicated feed for at least three weeks after they first hit the ground. Then, when that bag of feed runs out, you can switch them to unmedicated feed like grower or flock raiser if you wish. It really does not matter if they are 6 weeks old or 12 weeks old when you switch, or even older.

    I personally do not feed medicated feed and I introduce dirt from the run to them about their 3rd day so they get the exposure early. But I'll say it again. It does absolutely no harm to feed them the medicated feed and the greatest risk is when they first hit the ground.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
    1 person likes this.

  8. Ksane

    Ksane Crowing

    Jun 21, 2011
    You said that perfectly, RidgeRunner! I've just heavily researched the exact same thing and you said it all in much easier to read terms. If I were you I'd save that as a text file and copy and paste it for people. Far too many people don't have a clue as to why they feed medicated or how it works.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  9. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Songster

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    Super interesting, Ridgerunner - thanks for this info! I checked my bag of Purina and the 'active drug ingredient' is amprollium (.0125%).

    Cocci does hit older chicks/chickens harder. A friend decided to let her flock free range for the first time ever after a long, hard rain when the ground was completely saturated. She had a group of youngsters (about 6 months) that had been successfully integrated into her existing flock (mostly 3-4 year olds). While out on the wet dirt on her property, her flock was exposed to cocci. They were hit hard and as a result developed necrotic enteritis because they got so weak so fast. Half of them ended up dead - it was awful.
  10. happima

    happima Chirping

    Sep 14, 2011
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Thank you everyone for the wonderful information. Ridgerunner, special thanks for taking the time to explain what the medication is for - that's extremely useful.

    I went ahead and got the Purina today and will keep them on it at least for awhile once they hit the dirt outside. I actually do bring them outside for a little while everyday, since they really seem to enjoy it and the weather is warm, so perhaps they already are building up immunity.

    Very helpful Forum here. How did people just starting with chickens survive without it?


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