I have3 new chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by the girls club, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. the girls club

    the girls club In the Brooder

    Jul 15, 2013
    read here that layer feed is bad for roosters. What happens if you don't know you have a rooster?How does layer feed affect a rooster?
    I suspect one of the 3 is a rooster
    Iplan on moving all 3 to the hen house at 4 months of age. Can 4 month old chickens eat layer feed saftly> Without damage to thier kidneys? They will be in the hen house with 6 1 year old golden buffs that are on layer feed. I have oyster shell and grit in the hen house for my year old layers One of my golden buffs went broody so i put eggs under her and seperated her from the flock. After the eggs hatched I kept her with the 3 new born chicks for a peroid of time and just recently put her back in the hen house. Yes they all picked on her but now they accept her as 0one of thier own. I was worried for a while. I think the 3 are EE and they will go through the same process to be accepted. But I do have places for them to hide. The one chick has a large red comb the other 2 chicks have like a small 3 beaded comb. Thank you for your time in answering my questions
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    If they're the same breed and one has a much bigger comb then you can be fairly sure it is a cockerel. 4 months may be a little early to be on layer. Since you're providing oyster shell, I would switch them all to a grower feed with 1% calcium and I would wait till the pullets start laying to switch back to layer.
    The adult roosters don't seem to be too adversely affected but whenever they are separate from hens I give them a grower feed.
  3. LoneOak

    LoneOak Chirping

    May 19, 2013
    West of Atlanta
    I don't know where people read that layer feed is bad for roosters because it isn't. After you hens have reached laying age and you begin feeding them laying feed it is kind of difficult to keep the roosters from eating the same feed as you give the hens, unless you keep them totally separated. Its fine to leave them together and just feed the entire flock layer feed it will do no damage what so ever to the roosters. It you search around in this forum with the same question I am sure you will find many people who will believe the same as me and will back up my logic.
  4. jorey

    jorey Songster

    Dec 30, 2012
    north adams
    I do not feed layer. I feed all flock with oyster on the side. See no reason to force everyone to to eat what's not always needed. I too have read that roos and silkies shouldn't eat the layer and seeing as I'm raising silkies and showgirls this is what I choose to do. Why take the chance. Just my opinion.
  5. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Since some of the chickens here are too young to lay, i choose a grower with oyster shell on the side for my mature hens. I have read and read and read(LOL) on the debate for roos and layer, i think it falls under the same logic as it does for drakes, in the short term it's likely fine, long term is where the issue becomes more foggy, it's excessive calcium for a bird that will never be able to utilize it, the concern comes from a toxic build up over time. The trouble here is many, don't keep roos long term(or drakes) many are kept for a bit then either sold or in the pot.

    Frankly, i have had my girls on layer and now not(again due to the youngin's) and not found it to be superior either way, i get nice eggs, good shells so i will opt for the grower, we do have roos and the real grey area of the long term concerns of layer with roos has to be at least considered(and decided upon which is best for you) so again for now, i will stick with grower as i have seen no real reason/benefit to use otherwise.

    ETA; i should add an all flock or flock raiser is also an option if it can be obtained same principle of offering oyster shell on the side, a note too on the oyster shell i have heard it should be offered regardless of the usage of layer or not, raising once again the actual benefit of using a layer at all.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    There is anecdotal evidence that shows many people have been able to keep roosters with hens and feed a layer feed with no known negative effects.

    However, much scientific study has been done on the effects of varying amounts of calcium in the diets of hens, roosters, chicks and non-laying pullets.
    Foraging will provide about 1% calcium in the diet from seeds, bugs and greens. The production of high producing egg chicken strains that lay 250-300 eggs a year and with each shell containing 1.7 grams of calcium, supplemental calcium is necessary. Hence the development of layer feed containing 3.5-4.5 % calcium.
    Young growing birds, roosters and hens not in production have much lower calcium demands. The excess calcium, beyond need, has to be eliminated by the kidneys. This high mineral content causes renal damage and results in abnormal deposition of calcium in muscle, heart, blood vessel walls and can quickly kill the birds.

    Renal damage in birds is probably the most under-recognized disease. One reason is the subtle nature and seemingly unrelated symptoms until disease is quite advanced. Hypercalcemia, dehydration, toxicosis, systemic bacterial infection are some effects. Gout is a sign of severe renal dysfunction. Hypercalcemia, can cause calcification of the soft tissues and organs, pancreatitis, dry skin, appetite loss, lethargy, depression, pale combs, slowed growth in young birds, dehydration, diarrhea or constipation.
    Besides kidney stones, studies in Brazil, Japan and the US have shown roosters to develop calcified stones in tubes leading from the testes. Another study on the effect of high dietary calcium on immunity and reproductive function in breeder roosters with 3 groups receiving 0%, 2% and 4% respectively showed that antibodies, sperm quantity and motility were significantly higher in those on the low calcium diet.

    Kidney damage from a high calcium diet, out of balance with phosphorus and vitamin D, is even a problem for commercial laying hens in production. Flock mortalities of up to 50% have been documented. The bulk of losses occur between 19 and 35 weeks. In a commercial operation, dietary calcium is routinely increased when lighting is increased at about 16 or 17 weeks. Studies have shown that adding an acidifier to the diet helps them assimilate the excess calcium, perhaps by increasing water intake but also because the urine ph is lowered preventing formation of kidney stones. Commercial operations supplement the diet with 0.5% of ammonium chloride or ammonium sulphate which has to continue throughout the laying cycle or mortality can occur within 2 weeks of withdrawal.
    In a commercial operation, the loss of the hen isn't a huge concern as long as the numbers aren't significant. After all they won't be around more than a couple years anyway and egg shell quality is of more importance than the longevity of the hen. I switch away from layer feed if an entire flock isn't laying, for instance during brooding and molt.

    I speculate that with many small flock holders adding ACV to drinking water may be one reason they're able to feed roosters layer feed. Also feeding scratch grains that are under 1% calcium probably helps too.
    Everyone's management practices and situations vary but with the wealth of research in poultry diets available I think it's wise to utilize some of it rather than rely solely on anecdotal evidence.
  7. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    I imagine that we all are running in the mode of what we do all the time. We all surely are under a barrage of what someone else has done. Since we don't see any problems with roosters eating layer feed, we carry on. My flock forages all day every day, so I don't have a firm grasp on their exact diet. It appears that they eat less feed during the growing season when there are so many plants to eat.

    I don't feed layer ration until they are of age. When I blend new pullets into the flock, I change to grower feed for all and provide oyster shell on the side. Once all the hens are laying, they all go back to layer ration.

    I have had the same rooster for a bit over 2.5 years. I may change everyone over to grower and provide oyster shell for the next few months and watch the rooster to see if there are any changes. I don't know what I might expect, but it would be a touch of scientific with the anecdotal.

    As with many other things, we could use more science.


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