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Just wondering about what I am feeding them

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by happymom99, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. happymom99

    happymom99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 6, 2011
    California
    I have 7 pullets/hens that range in age from 13 weeks to 18 weeks. One of the girls just started laying and, based on their reddening wattles and combs, I think two others might be laying in the next week or two.

    Right now I am just feeding everyone Flock Raiser and some treats like scratch, greens and fruit. They also get to forage about.

    Should I be feeding oyster shell now since someone is laying? If so, do I just mix it in the food? I feel everyone together and there is no way for me to separate the food for the layers and non-layers.

    Should I wait to switch to layer feed until after all of the chickens are laying? That could be another couple of months so I am worried if that is bad for the chicken that has already started laying.

    How is the Flock Raiser different than layer feed?

    Thank you so much,
    CJ
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    South Georgia
    The difference is mostly additional calcium in the layer, for egg shell forming. You can offer oyster shell on the side and anyone who needs it will eat it. You can switch to layer when most or all are laying, or you can just keep on feeding flock raiser if you wish. I've read different opinions on when to start layer. Some wait til everyone is laying and others start it around 18 to 20 weeks when (presumable) they are all about to lay. The trouble with that is, sometimes an individual hen waits a good deal longer to start laying.

    I have a mixed age flock and feed everyone an unmedicated grower. I offer oyster shell and grit in two separate containers. I find the young chicks pay no attention to the oyster shell. I've been doing this for a while now and do not have a problem with soft shelled eggs or thin egg shells; they are just as hard as they were when I just had layers and fed layer feed. I like this better because there is a little more protein in grower than layer.

    Grower and flock raiser are also much the same, no one close to me sells flock raiser, and I don't like the smell of the brand of it that I have to drive 30 miles to buy -- so my grower is just my version of flock raiser.
     
  3. happymom99

    happymom99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 6, 2011
    California
    "You can offer oyster shell on the side and anyone who needs it will eat it."

    Do you just buy another feeder and put it in there or do you use a different type of container? Do you keep it out all the time? I have some oyster shell but I just haven't put it out yet.

    "I offer oyster shell and grit in two separate containers."

    I'm glad you mentioned this because, oops, I thought oyster shell was grit. What is grit? Do you keep it out all the time?

    I can't imagine having three different feeders in their run area for the food, grit and oyster shell. It seems like it will take up so much of their play space. I let them out to forage all day but they are in there in the morning for a while and are very antsy to get out. Also, if I know I am not going to be around for most of the day I keep them in their run too. They have 60 sq feet for the 7 of them in the run so I could fit the two additional feeders but I'd love it if there is another way. The feeders take up a lot of space.

    Thanks,
    CJ
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Hi Happymom,

    Look for something called 'cage cups' They will hang on the side of your run, and thus prevent tipping over. Not that tipping over grit or oyster shells would be a problem, I have seen chicken keepers just throw them out in the ground for the chickens to find.

    The reason I like cage cups clipped to the side of the run is that I can easily check how much they have available and refill as needed. I used to put little bowls in the run and inevitably they would tip them over. I got some nice stainless steel ones from either MyPetChicken.com or one of the online vet supply places. Maybe a google. Seems like the size I got would hold about 1 1/2 cups or maybe a little more, they don't take up much room in the run, and your chickens can have 'free choice' grit and calcium whenever they feel like it.
     
  5. FuzzyButtsFarm

    FuzzyButtsFarm Rest in Peace 1950-2013

    I screw a large tuna can to the side of the coop. Works just fine. The girls think its a treat.
     
  6. nurseshelly

    nurseshelly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2011
    Gilbert AZ
    Quote:Mine are on Flock Raiser, I am finding that their feathers are softer and shinier on it than on the Chick Starter. I give mine treats on a plastic plate and put a handful or two of oyster shell in with it. If it's grains I mix the oyster shell in with it. I have two hens that are laying and the rest are not yet. So this works great for us. I might change to a treat cup sometime, but this works well right now. Mine have sand in their coop - all over, it's their floor. I just use a cat litter scoop to clean up the poo, and occasionally add a bag of sand. They love it, and now that it's hot if I spray the sand and get it nice and wet, they will take wet sand baths to cool off. I think Flock Raiser is higher in protein and calcium than the layer feed.
     
  7. CarolynF

    CarolynF Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    happymom99
    I'm glad you mentioned this because, oops, I thought oyster shell was grit. What is grit? Do you keep it out all the time?

    I can't imagine having three different feeders in their run area for the food, grit and oyster shell. It seems like it will take up so much of their play space.
    CJ[/b :

    First, grit is small stones that chickens eat and store in their gizzard for the purpose of grinding up the food they eat because they don't have teeth.

    I have an idea, but would really like to hear what others say. Since by their very nature chickens scratch to find food and grit, wouldn't it be just as effective to toss the grit and oyster shell on the ground? And, if they free range a goodly part of the time, won't they get sufficient amounts of grit from their foraging?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

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