Laying mash vs 20% grower?

BettyR

Songster
12 Years
Mar 1, 2008
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Why is it better to give a laying hen a lower protein feed?

The grower I give them is 20% protein...they have just started laying and their eggs have very nice thick shells...why would I want to change their feed?

They free range on a little over 3/4 of an acre with lots of trees, grass and bugs plus all the feed they can eat....do I really need to switch them to laying mash?
 

Lee

Songster
11 Years
Jun 27, 2008
346
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Marion County, IN
This will be interesting to see what all everyone has to say. I offer my hens Layena pellets, but for the chicks, going on 4 months old, I switched from chick starter to Flock Raiser. they are not interested in the Layena, so no worries there with the extra calcium in it. I have read that as long as I offer oyster shell that the Flock Raiser is okay for any age over 16 weeks. Also, all of mine free range during the day, so they get grass & bugs and whatever else.
 

mtnhomechick

Songster
11 Years
Jun 27, 2008
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Mountain Home, AR
I would like to know this too. I feed layer crumbles but would be inclined to switch back to grower crumbles with 20% protein if it's recommended. I also feed cracked corn for an evening treat and table scraps and grass clippings.
 

ams3651

Songster
12 Years
Jan 23, 2008
3,343
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NE PA
me too, flock raiser I cannot find in my area, I dont want to feed layer because I have a rooster and only have 2 hens laying. Ive seen reccomendations but so far cant find the feed.
 

panner123

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13 Years
Jan 15, 2007
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Unless your chickens are small, I wouldn't feed them crumbles. I would feed them pellets for there is much less waste. You can feed both hens and roos pellets. You say they free range so they are getting anything the feed may be lacking. Most tend to baby their chickens for no good reason. What was that chicken eating before we humans took them over. Yes, if the chickens are not free ranged we need to step in with a good diet. I wouldn't want any chicken to be without food or water, but believe me when I say, a chicken will find food and water if they are truly free ranged.
 

BettyR

Songster
12 Years
Mar 1, 2008
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Quote:I have two banties in my flock that would not be able to swallow the pellets...but that's not what I want to know...what I want to know is why I should take the 20% protein grower away and feed a 16% protein layer instead.

As for them finding their own water...there is a pond close by but the banks are way too steep for the chickens to easily get to the water. I have had chickens fall into a horse troff and drown they don't swim at all.
 

Reinbeau

The Teapot Underground
Premium Feather Member
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Mar 1, 2007
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Quote:I use crumbles and have no waste. I think it depends on the feeder, and how you handle it. Our feeder is hung at chest height for the hens, and there isn't anything getting spilled out of it. I'm going to stick with what they're used to, so far it's worked well for me.
 

BayCityBabe

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11 Years
May 1, 2008
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My feeder is also chest high - few spills. I do put a large plastic catering platter under the feeder. After a week or so, there's maybe 1/2 cup of food on it, which I throw out into the run for them to pick at.
 

pkeeler

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11 Years
Jul 20, 2008
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Why is it better to give a laying hen a lower protein feed?

Is it? I'd turn the question around and ask, "why is it better to give a hen a higher protein feed?"

Up until recently, the expensive ingredient in chicken feed was the protein component. Just within the last 12-18 months, the cost of corn, oats, etc. have skyrocketed. So, much of what you read in chicken books and articles about feeding is out of date costs wise.

To keep costs low, and because protein was the expensive ingredient, the idea was to feed chickens the minimum protein for healthy laying. If this number is 16%, then why would you ever feed more just to pay more?

Now, I think the feed costs are kind of equivalent. But what does a chicken get out of a higher protein content? I don't think it will do anything for the chicken and might make the chicken's digestive system do more to expel the extra nitrogen. But I'm no doctor of chicken digestion
 

BettyR

Songster
12 Years
Mar 1, 2008
1,836
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Texas Gulf Coast
Quote:I use crumbles and have no waste. I think it depends on the feeder, and how you handle it. Our feeder is hung at chest height for the hens, and there isn't anything getting spilled out of it. I'm going to stick with what they're used to, so far it's worked well for me.

Same here...I have found in the past that if you try to change from crumbles to pellets at this age it is usually refused...especially by free range hens who will choose to forage more for what they want than to eat that stuff they don't want. By offering them the food they like I find they stay closer to home...choosing to eat the easy food and forage for treats...I loose fewer hens to predators that way.



Quote:Is it? I'd turn the question around and ask, "why is it better to give a hen a higher protein feed?"

Up until recently, the expensive ingredient in chicken feed was the protein component. Just within the last 12-18 months, the cost of corn, oats, etc. have skyrocketed. So, much of what you read in chicken books and articles about feeding is out of date costs wise.

To keep costs low, and because protein was the expensive ingredient, the idea was to feed chickens the minimum protein for healthy laying. If this number is 16%, then why would you ever feed more just to pay more?

Now, I think the feed costs are kind of equivalent. But what does a chicken get out of a higher protein content? I don't think it will do anything for the chicken and might make the chicken's digestive system do more to expel the extra nitrogen. But I'm no doctor of chicken digestion


My next question is when you are reading about raising chicks what I have read tells me to feed starter\\grower and nothing else because it is a complete food. When you switch to laying mash you need to offer oyster shell along with it.

Since the 50 pound bag of 20% grower (the complete food) is $15.19 and the 50 pound bag of 16% laying mash (not a complete food) is $13.29 plus the 5 pound bag of oyster shell at $6.29….what it comes down to is which food is better for the chickens since the cost is virtually the same?

As I said before the eggs they are laying have very strong shells so they must be getting enough calcium in the food they are getting now (plus the forage)….unless the need for calcium will gradually go up as they begin to produce more eggs.

In the past I have kept mostly Production Reds which as you know start laying earlier and lay very large eggs for the size of the chicken. It was a struggle to keep enough calcium in their diet to keep the shells from being thin but I think that’s a general problem for the breed.

This time I decided to go with Ameraucanas, Australorps, New Hampshire Reds, and Buff Brahams so I don’t think this is going to be as much of a problem.
 

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