is layer feed necessary for egg production?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Phoenixxx, Oct 2, 2013.

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  1. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Songster

    Hi, one of my new hens has barely eaten a single layer pellet since I got her a week ago. She escapes the coop first thing in the morning and, unlike the other morning escapees, doesn't come back in for breakfast (layer pellets). I like the idea of a chicken that costs nothing to feed, but I'm wondering if I'll still get eggs from her when she starts laying?

    I did search here but none of the threads about lack of grains or feed (in the diet) mentioned egg productivity (unless I didn't search hard enough). My land is mixed, we have lawn with a variety of weeds, lots of anthills, brush, and forest as well as a tiny patch of wetland. I doubt she's really missing anything nutritionally but I also don't see anything in the yard that's producing any kind of "natural" grains and seeds.
  2. Layer feed isn't essential. Any good All Flock, or quality Grower will also provide the essential nutrients for good laying. All Layer does is provide the convenience of having the calcium carbonate ground right in. All feed has some calcium, so if you feed something else, a side dish of shells is likely going to be helpful.

    If that bird is not eating a lot of the commercial feed she's likely finding a good deal of her own. In our climate, however, this comes to an end with snow cover. The combination of nothing to forage and cold temps drives up feed consumption. She sounds like a terrific forager and if she isn't getting skinny, she's doing just fine on her own.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  3. I think she will be just fine. She should get all her needs met from the land if you let her and it shouldnt affect her production.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Songster

    Thanks :) she's half americauna, half chantecler. She's the white one in my avatar. Naming her "Hedwig" probably didn't help - harry potter's snowy owl was very independent and strong-willed as well, ha ha! My husband figures she's probably already laying and then one day she's gonna just show up to the house with a bunch of babies :p

    My last flock (all red stars - never again!) hated the snow, but all the ones I have now are supposed to be good winter birds (mostly australorps)). The forest doesn't get any snow cover so they'll still have some forage there. I'm contemplating adding another 4' to their fence; they like my neighbour's yard too much and I'm not always around to babysit. Hedwig, though, will never be caged - she's too **** smart and a wicked flier!

    So you think she'll still be a great layer without the supplementary feed?
  5. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    She will lay as many as she can once she settles in, whether it is a great amout time will tell. Since she already has the choice of supplemental feed, which she passes on the way out of the coop, she just doesn't need it yet. Like your husband, with her independent streak I would worry about hidden nests.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Where did you get her?
    How old is she?
    What was she eating there?
    Was she laying there?
  7. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Songster

    She's young still. The lady I got her from said she and the other girl ought to start laying any day. No idea what she fed them (didn't ask) but they were free-ranged at her place as well, which was a farm.

    I actually just tried to toss her some pellets. She tasted them, dropped them, then found a grub, ate that instead and walked away :p She looks fully grown proportion-wise but she's still small to me. VERY healthy, though, and soft as a kitten!

    Yes, sneak-nests are a concern. I already have one that does that and everytime I find it, she makes a new one elsewhere. I wouldn't mind, really, but that particular hen won't do anything with the eggs! I now check all my bushes, trees, you name it, at least every two days now.
  8. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Crowing

    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    Nutrition is important to provide for birds for their own health, to produce quality eggs, for healthy chicks to hatch from eggs. What you feed won't cause a hen to lay more eggs. Sunlight, or length of day, stimulates the endocrine system to signal the pituitary gland to secrete the hormone which tells the ovary to release an egg. That's why egg production during the Winter, when the days are shorter, slows or stops, and when Spring comes, the days get longer, and they begin to lay again. Many of us adjust their nutritional needs depending on time of year. Free ranging birds get exercise and variety, but also are more likely to pick up diseases on range. Being aware of what birds have available to them on range in your particular environment determines much of this.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  9. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Crowing

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Don't quite understand your assertion that chickens on range get more disease. Penned birds can get the same diseases if you are talking about stuff from wild birds. I'm sure you are not advocating locking birds in a coop! What you feed can certainly influence egg laying. A feed with a slightly higher protein & vitamins that are more readily available will make most birds lay more eggs. The basic 16% feed is a bare minimum for healthy chickens IMHO. YMMV.
  10. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Crowing

    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    Just because a bird's feet touch dirt doesn't signify "range". When I mean range, I mean pasture/unrestrained access to acreage outside a penned yard connected to a coop. The variety of diseases on range outnumber those likely contracted in a well tended yard. That's common knowledge, and why numerous amounts of literature have been published on the subject. My yard is large and my coops are as well. You need to go back and read the post again. I never said nutrition didn't influence egg laying. I said what is fed to birds won't make them lay more eggs. Nature determines that. Rations are developed by formulators to increase egg quality, not rate of lay. That's why there are no guarantees because all the nutrition in the world won't fix inferior genetics. IMHO and YMMV is foreign abbreviation to me, so I don't know what you mean.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
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