Layer vs Starter Feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bcmama, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. bcmama

    bcmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have only one hen that is currently laying and she just started on Friday. All of my other girls are probably close to laying but haven't done so at this time. Do I go ahead and switch to layer feed or do I continue with starter until they all begin? I have started giving oyster shell.

    Thanks
     
  2. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    You can keep feeding starter it isn't going to hurt anything.

    Chris
     
  3. madamwlf

    madamwlf Nevermore Acres

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    I strictly feed starter feed to everyone. I like the higher protein and one feed for all.
     
  4. bcmama

    bcmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I can stay with Starter forever and just supplement with Oyster Shell? Good to know
     
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Yup,
    I know very few people that use Layer Type Feed anymore.

    Chris
     
  6. bcmama

    bcmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you mind me asking why?
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Those with mixed flocks, young birds, moulting birds, cockerels, cock birds, chicks, as well as layers, find that feeding everyone a single feed much simplier. Layer feed is only indicated for a laying hen, that's all. It's target is too narrow, while Grower, Raiser or Starter can be fed to all.

    Then, a calcium source can be provided for the laying hens, on the side. Only they need the extra calcium and only they should eat the calcium.

    Layer Feed is simply Grower with a heavy dose of calcium ground right in. This is done merely for convenience. There's nothing magical about Layer. It isn't necessary at all.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    If you look at the analysis on the tag on the bag of feed, the only significant difference in Chicken Starter, Gamebird Starter, Grower, Flock Raiser, Developer, Finisher, or whatever combinations of these you see is percent protein. Some of these have other names with certain brands or at certain mills and some may have slightly different protein levels but protein is the only significant difference.

    An example. One combined Starter/Grower is called Starter/Grower and is 20% protein. Another is called Start & Grow and is 18% protein. Both of these can be fed from hatch until you switch to Layer. Or you can keep feeding either of these and offer oyster shell on the side even when they are laying.

    If I remember right, Fred uses a 18% protein Layer. I use a 16% Layer when I don't have a mixed age flock and can use it.

    If you look at the tag on a bag of Layer, it will have a percentage protein somewhat close to Grower and it will have about 3% higher calcium. That extra calcium is there for the hens to male the egg shells. Too much calcium can harm growing chicks. If a hen is not laying she does not need the calcium in Layer and growing chicks should not eat it.

    Before you ask, we do not all follow the same feeding regimen. The normal one often recommended is to start them off with a fairly high % protein feed, after 4 to 8 weeks (whenever your last bag runs out in that window) switch to a lower % protein feed, then when they start top lay, switch to Layer. When you switch from one to another does not have to be very precise, just as long as they have access to extra calcium when they are laying. Like Fred said, I offer oyster shell on the side to cover that.

    But lots of people keep them on a higher protein diet all their life from hatch until they are done, like a 20% Flock Raiser. If all I can find at the feed store is Grower, I'll start them off on Grower. It doesn't hurt them. if you are growing them commercially or for show, a feeding regimen is a lot more important that just for a regular backyard flock. People get worried about feeding all the time when they don't need too. Unless you have a special need, and these people should know who they are, % protein is not that important.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. bcmama

    bcmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So my starter feed is 16% protein. That should be good as long as I supplement with oyster shell? How do you keep those that don't need it from eating it or do you just not worry about it? I have to say that the first of my girls to lay started off with beautiful hard eggs, but I have supplemented with oyster shell or should I say I had made it available for them. I suppose I will just stay with what I have been feeding and continue to add the OS. I also supplement with a ton of fresh veg and fruit.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Just offer the oyster shell on the side and don't worry about the others eating it. They may experiment a bit but they won't eat enough of it to harm themselves.

    There are a lot of things in nature that have calcium in them. Some plants, hard shelled bugs, even some dirt or gravel they use as grit if it has limestone in it. If you have good egg shells you are doing something right. If they are getting enough calcium in other ways, they oyster shell will last a real long time. But it will not hurt anything at all to offer oyster shell on the side.
     

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