Layer feed...what to feed when done laying?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Wynette, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    My gals are now on layer mash - wish I could find organic (believe me, I've searched high & low and can't find it), but I've been unable to find any, so they're on Layena. They like it just fine, and the eggs are perfect.

    But - our winters can be mighty cold in Michigan, and I work full time. I'd like them to not lay in the dead of winter if possible (the eggs would just be wasted, as I'm sure they'd be frozen solid by the time I collected them, even though they've got a nice little coop), so what should I feed them instead of the Layena? Now they get free choice Layena (I've got a small feeder in the coop and a large one in the run - there's also quite a bit of grass left in the run).

    I do plan to feed alfalfa pellets when the grass dies through the winter. I thought that's what "scratch" feed was for, but I'm told scratch feed is not very nutritious, and actually more like a treat.
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    One thing to feed would be Flock Raiser, unmedicated, since you're already feeding Purina products. It doesn't have the high calcium. Not sure if Purina has any other general purpose poultry feed without the extra calcium. When they talk about feeding scratch, that is not meant exclusively, but usually a handful at night before going to roost to up the metabolism and keep them slightly warmer. Remember, layer doesn't make them lay, it just provides the proper nutrients for them while they're laying. You can still feed layer pellets in the winter because they may not stop laying entirely anyway.
     
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    This is exactly the info. I needed! Thanks so much! So, it's okay to feed layer feed even in the "off" season. Okay, great. I just want them to be able to take some time off laying, but still get the nutrients they need. I'll also look for flock raiser. Thanks so much!
     
  4. Marlinchaser

    Marlinchaser Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2007
    MERRY LAND
    I would continue with Layena and oyster shell, if thier bodies tell them to continue to lay they will. Hens(If I understand right)sill start drawing calcium for shell from thier bones, if not provided with another source of calcium. Again a case of chicken doing what it wants, not necessarily what you want. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Uh-oh...I haven't been giving them oyster shell at all. I thought Layena was a "complete" feed. Should I begin giving it? should I have been giving it all this time? They're 25 weeks now (they've been laying about 3 weeks).
     
  6. Marlinchaser

    Marlinchaser Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2007
    MERRY LAND
    It is spose to be complete, but especially if they free range and not eating Layena exclusively it can throw off amout of calcum they actually take in. I have a free choice feeder for oyster shell(and grit) the birds know if they need it and will use what they need.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  7. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

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    The birds need a "down" time to replenish the stores of calcium they use stored in their bones and such... calcium metabolism is not simply dependent on the amount of "calcium " but also on phosphate and D3 etc. and the ratio to each other, so do keep feeding the layer and put out free choice oyster shells. You might consider sprouting seeds in the winter ... a super source of nutrition to replace the grass they would normally graze in the winter...
     
  8. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Okay, I'll pick up the oyster shell right away.
    I was also planning on sprouting winter greens...I believe it's called "winter wheat" or "wheatberries?" I have a good sized (maybe the size of a 1/2 sheet cake pan) plastic container - think it was a sweater box - and thought that'd be a good size to sprout some greens over winter. I'm guessing that once it sprouts, I can cut it back and give them a big handful maybe once a week - would that be often enough?
     
  9. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

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    actually the sprouts are the most nutricious... a various selection> a handfull each day ideally is the most nutricious replacement for the missed pasture grazing they can possibly have (though it does take a bit of time and effort) See this article:
    http://www.vetafarm.com.au/manage/documents/Seed Sprouting.pdf
    (excerpts)
    The Equipment
    Glass and stainless steel is preferred to plastic for the soaking and sprouting containers. The porous nature of plastic prevents the sterilisation of a container contaminated by bacteria or other disease forming germs. Glass and stainless steel are easily sterilised in boiling water or with appropriate disinfectants. Plastic can be used successfully until infected, however thereafter it will be impossible to control sprouting related diseases in the aviary.

    The Seed
    The seed, above all else, is the most important part of the sprouting process. The seed type, quality and cleanliness are equally important.

    Seed Type
    The seed type used depends primarily on the bird species involved . Small birds may eat the sprout but not the kernel of large seeds and thereby miss out on the full benefits of the sprouting process. The larger birds can be given both the larger and smaller seeds.
    A variety of seed types is recommended so that the nestlings will accept a varied diet as fledglings and adults.
    The main seeds used for sprouting are the “oil” seeds (high energy and high protein) although often the “starch” seeds (high energy low protein) are best given before hatching and when the young are fully feathered. The high energy and high protein seeds such as sunflower, rape, lettuce, and the legumes (i.e. tic beans etc.) are easy to sprout and highly
    palatable. The “starch” seeds such as the millets, canary, oats, wheat and milo should be given for variety and for the correct protein balance. Some seeds such as niger seed are almost impossible to sprout without special laboratory techniques.

    Seed Quality
    There is no nutritional value in a seed (except niger) which does not readily sprout. An 80% and above sprouting rate reflects a seed of good quality.

    Seed Cleanliness
    Most seed merchants realise the value of clean seed for the prevention of disease. Dusty and unclean seed is more likely to be contaminated with bacteria and fungus than a seed that has been cleaned.
    Seed grown by irrigation is sometimes contaminated by fungus. Fungus infections are a common cause of illness and breeding failure. Sunflower, safflower, the millets and corn are the grains most commonly affected. Any suspect grains should be cultured and titrated in order to detect the levels of contamination with fungus and bacteria or be left in direct
    sunlight for several hours before being used for sprouting.

    The Process
    The correct sprouting process must be used in order to minimise the potential problems associated with the technique. The water used for soaking seed should not come via a hose pipe or other plastic pipe. These can harbour bacteria. Distilled water (boiled and allowed to cool) is the ideal.
    1. Soak seed for 12 hours in a sterilised container (preferably glass or stainless steel) using clean seed.
    2. After 12 hours strain seed and wash repeatedly until the water is clean. Abort the process is the seed has an offensive odour at this time. The seed should have a sweet smell.
    3. After the cleansing and straining, leave strained seed in a warm place repeating the above process at least twice daily.
    4. On the third day (depending on the temperature) the seed should be sprouted enough to feed to the birds.
    5. The sprouted seed is then rinsed clean and then soaked in Aviclens (made by Vetafarm) diluted 1:1000, for 10 minutes before the final rinse. Aviclens may be safely used in the water during the complete process whereas a bleach can only be used for the final rinse. Aviclens is recommended in all stages with the sprouting of suspect or untested seed.
    6. The unused sprouted seed should be discarded after 12 hours....."
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007

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