layer vs grower feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by shadley, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. shadley

    shadley Hatching

    Mar 25, 2014
    I have 5 hens (buff orpingtons, barred rocks, and RIR) that are 20 weeks old and not laying yet. they were on chick mash for the first 8 weeks and then i moved them on to layer pellets at the recommendation of the feed store i use. now i am reading that they should be on grower pellets until they lay, and i am wondering what actions i should take? Put them on grower pellets until they lay, or just leave them on layer pellets, or something else? They free range about half the time.

    Also, any advice on when they may lay? i live in New England, where the days are now less then 12 hours. I could put in a light to promote laying, but would prefer not to, as i have read that BOs, BRs, and RIRs tend to lay through the winter without lights (although not at a regular rate). Have any of you seen this from your experience?

    All advice and insights welcome and thanks!
  2. matt44644

    matt44644 Songster

    Sep 14, 2014
    Sanilac County,Michigan
    I would find a new feed store,8 weeks is too young for layer feed.
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio

    You're right in thinking the eight week olds should still be on the grower feed. I personally wait until the pullets start squatting, which is a sign laying will begin son, to change them over to the layer feed.

    I've had hens start laying as early as 17 weeks, or as late as 25 weeks. It all depends on the breed, in my humble opinion. The larger breeds seem to take a bit longer in my experience. With these days getting shorter, I do think that can also effect how long it takes for them to begin laying.

    Here in Ohio, it's getting dark so much earlier. Boo hiss.
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    Yeah, 8 weeks is way too early to feed layer feed. It's too much calcium for them yet, especially that young. At least don't ask that feed store for feeding advice anymore!

    One thing you could do is feed a grower feed with oyster shell (from the feed store) in a separate container on the side. As they near laying stage, they will naturally start to eat more and more of the oyster shell. You could continue this indefinitely (this is what we do, with a mixed flock) or switch to layer at that point. What to do with the oyster shell you bought once you switch to layer? Keep feeding it on the side...some will continue to peck at it if they need more calcium than is in the layer feed.
  5. shadley

    shadley Hatching

    Mar 25, 2014
    pdirt, thanks, that sounds like a good solution!

    Based on your experience, when do you think they will start laying since the days are getting shorter now? Will laying not happen until spring (when they would be about 50 weeks)? Or do you think it could start now, but be erratic through fall and the winter because of the short days?
  6. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    It's hard to say, but likely they won't start laying until spring, depending on the breed. Some breeds lay during the winter but most don't, as far as I understand it.

    If I recall correct, at least for our our latitude (48 degrees N), we need to start supplementing light by the second week of September. Last year we didn't start until mid-October and what I did was start by adding 15-minutes a week of extra light and increasing 15-minutes every week. By the end of December, we had "caught up" on the extra needed light (they need 12-14 hours of light a day to lay), I think that is what happened. In any case, it worked and they started to lay again.

    You could try it and perhaps it will work. It's not my expertise thing, the light thing. You have to be consistent about it, though. Put a light on a timer to turn on 15-minutes before sunrise and increase 15-minutes every week until the artificial light+natural light equals a minimum of 12 hours a day but ideally 14 hours a day. Be sure to put the light in a heat-lamp type cage and hang it someplace they cannot get to the light and knock it over and potentially start a fire. Or use an LED bulb, which can't break and don't produce heat but are still pretty expensive.
  7. chad05gsa

    chad05gsa In the Brooder

    Aug 3, 2014
  8. Another chicken coop 'safer' light to increase egg production, is a covered under cabinet fluorescent fixture...

    Almost all of the new ones (rapid/fast start) will work with a timer, the older ones where you had to hold the push button down to turn on won't work with a timer...
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2014
  9. evemfoster

    evemfoster Songster

    May 6, 2014
    NE, Wa.
    Wally world has Great Value LED bulbs for just under $6 right now. I bought a 60 watt one for my coop just last week. Real power used is 9.9 watts. And the Light is in the warm end of the spectrum that the chickens needs.

    When buying light fixtures for chickens, choose “warm” wavelength bulbs, which emit more rays at the red-orange wavelength. The “cool” spectrum bulbs commonly used in homes and offices are less stimulating and don't work as efficiently to keep the chickens laying.

  10. I'm not contradicting this as that is certainly what all the research I have read suggest, I just find it a little odd... At high noon, on a summer day, sea level, at the equator the light is give or take 6500K, that is the cool spectrum... The 3000K or so warm light is more so spring, fall, sunset, sunrise color... My guess is that the warm light is more so to trick them into thinking spring something would be their normal ancestral laying time...

    As I said, I'm not arguing it I just find it odd being an indoor plant/flower grower... I (and many others) start all my seeds and young plants under 3000K light to simulate the early spring light conditions as as the plants grows I slowly transition them to pure 6500K light as that is beneficial for summer fruits/vegetable and flowering...

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