Layer feed and breeding/roosters

Athena2344

Songster
Aug 7, 2016
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Not necessarily, in order to kickstart my oegb during breeding season, I gave her another hen and roo all layer, she laid 14 eggs with 10 being viable and 8 hatching. I occasionally gave them a handful of scratch and grass as well, but no added or supplemental protien or anything, and because the trio are wild, they aren't allowed to graze wither.
 

ChickenCanoe

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Nov 23, 2010
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If layer feed’s higher calcium levels are detrimental to non laying chicks, and is not generally used for meat birds either, would it possibly have a negative effect on a rooster in with the hens for breeding?
Excellent deduction.
Yes, excessive calcium can be detrimental to roosters (or any non egg producing bird).
The additional 3% calcium over what is in all feeds besides layer is for building egg shells.
A bird not using that excess will need to process it and shed it by the kidneys. The result is urolithiasis and sometimes visceral gout. Kidney damage in most lines of roosters fed a steady diet of layer feed is common. Whether males or females, birds with kidney damage won't exhibit symptoms as long as at least two of the six kidney segments are still functioning. Once one of the last segments fails, they'll die within 24 hours - often with no symptoms. If people don't have a necropsy performed on a sudden death, they'll never know the cause.
Furthermore, regarding breeding, roosters can develop stones in the epididymis leading from the testes which interfere with sperm function. Additionally, those roosters also have lower testosterone, testes weight and sperm production.
It may not hurt them short term, but if you want to keep your roosters for breeding long term, don't feed them a high calcium feed.
Statistics also show that male broiler breeders die at 4 times the rate of hens when fed a layer diet.

https://www.hyline.com/aspx/redbook/redbook.aspx?s=5&p=36

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320511002219

These are just a couple articles on the topics.
 
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Melky

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Jul 23, 2018
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Many experts feel the extra calcium in the feed is not the problem. As long as the hens are provided free choice oyster shell and not added to the feed, the rooster would not get an amount that would cause harm. Many feel it is ok to feed roosters same as flock without ill effects.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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Yes, as @ChickenCanoe points out the extra calcium in layers feed is a problem for roosters.
There is a little more to this than meets the eye I believe. Part of the problem is how the roosters feed particularly in a free range situation. The roosters here tend to feed load with the commercial feed in the morning and before roosting. Because of the speed with which calcium is processed by the digestive system this can make the rooster hypercalcemic, The symptoms may be a comb turning purple and lethargy.
High calcium levels in feed may have negative health effects for non laying hens, particularly older hens and chicks.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
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Wow! The wealth of knowledge here is amazing... thanks for all the detailed responses. I’m wondering if maybe I should mix some layer feed and starter or broiler grower feed when my flock gets old enough to lay? To reduce the calcium intake of my roo’s, that is. My feed store doesn’t carry a general flock feed or broiler ration, just starter crumbles and layer pellets, crumbles, and mash. I will also offer the oyster shells free choice. I added that in with the older layers on the farm when I noticed that some of their shells were getting thin (they are very old hens!).

I’ll check the bags for the calcium amounts in the layer feed when my mother gets up here to help me build my chicken tractor today. Extra pair of hands always makes putting everything together a bit easier!
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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Catalonia, Spain
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Wow! The wealth of knowledge here is amazing... thanks for all the detailed responses. I’m wondering if maybe I should mix some layer feed and starter or broiler grower feed when my flock gets old enough to lay? To reduce the calcium intake of my roo’s, that is. My feed store doesn’t carry a general flock feed or broiler ration, just starter crumbles and layer pellets, crumbles, and mash. I will also offer the oyster shells free choice. I added that in with the older layers on the farm when I noticed that some of their shells were getting thin (they are very old hens!).

I’ll check the bags for the calcium amounts in the layer feed when my mother gets up here to help me build my chicken tractor today. Extra pair of hands always makes putting everything together a bit easier!
Older hens tend to lay eggs with thinner shells irrespective of the calcium availability.
A starter feed provided it is of the none medicated variety can substitute for what I believe you call all flock or multi feed.
Having calcium carbonate available separately seems to work with many flocks.
Some crumbles (here at least) are low calcium. It’s a matter of looking at what’s in the feed.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
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British Columbia, Canada
I’m feeding layer feed because if I feed oyster shell my rooster eats it like crazy. He thinks it’s a awesome treat .
I didn’t know that could be a problem! I’ll have to watch for it when my flock gets to laying age. My boys will be the first roosters on the farm in over 30 years... the last one was apparently a mean, human aggressive jerk; and I have basically no chicken knowledge, so this site is a blessing.
 

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