Lots of Questions! Please Help!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Leah and peeps, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Leah and peeps

    Leah and peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2009
    Hi everyone,
    I just have some feeding questions, (im new to chickens)

    My chicks are 10 weeks and 20 weeks. Right now they are all eating grower. What is the youngest age i would be able to switch to layer for the 10 weeks? The latest for the 20 weeks? (the 20 weeks are SL's and arent laying yet-any day now!)

    Dochickens need to have oyster shell?
    What does it do? I thought it provides calcium for the layers?
    How do you give it to them?

    They are having whole corn mixed in with the grower, but dont have any grit right now. Will they be fine for a few days without it, just finding pebbles in the (now dirt) run? Or is this a problem? When i get them the grit, can i just use budgie grit, until i can make it up to the feed store?
    How do you you feed them the grit?

    Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    With these age groups, if they are together, I'd keep feeding grower and put oyster shell in a separate container for them to eat it if they want it but if they don't want it, they are not forced to eat it. If they are separate flocks, you can switch to layer now for the 20 week olds and keep feeding grower to the 10 week olds.

    The standard recommendation is to feed grower until they are either 20 weeks old or they lay their first egg, whichever comes first, then switch to layer.

    Chickens do not need to have oyster shell. I seriously doubt there were oyster shells in the jungles where the original chickens originated. When chickens are laying, they need extra calcium to form the egg shells. Oyster shells are a cheap plentiful renewable source of calcium, so many people use them. Layer feed is formulated to have all the calcium they need if layer is all they are eating, but if they are eting things other than layer, they may not be getting enough calcium. Then again, they might. They can get calcium from bugs they eat, certain green plants, or certain rocks they use as grit. Some hens are more efficient at processing calcium than others. It is a genetic thing. I go by the rule that if the egg shells are hard, they do not need extra calcium. If the egg shells are soft, they need extra calcium.

    You do not want to feed extra calcium to young chicks. Too much calcium in a growing chick can cause bone deformations and can harm their kidneys. It is not that the chick will instantly develop a bone deformation or fall over dead from kidney failure the second it eats a bit of extra calcium. They do need some calcium for bone development. But if they eat too much calcium while young, it can, over time, cause a problem.

    They need grit to grind up the corn in their gizzards. If they have access to a dirt run, they should be getting the grit they need. I have been known to go to my gravel road or driveway and collect sand and pebbles the size of a pea or smaller and throw it in the run to make sure they have enough. I know it is overkill but it does not take that much time or effort. If they use salt on your roads in the winter you probably do not want to use sand and gravel from your driveway. Their system cannot handle the extra salt. Some people put grit in a separate container like the oyster shell. If I were buying it, I might do that too but since it is free, I just throw it on the ground. Some people mix oyster shell and grit with their food, but since I don't know how much of either they actually need, I like to let them decide.

    If you use budgie grit, read the label. Some of it has extra calcium in it. Coarse construction sand also works well.

    You cannot use oyster shell as grit. Not only is it too soft to grind up some of the hard stuff they eat, the gizzard has acid in it. That acid will dissolve the oyster shell.
  3. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Dont change feed to the first group is laying real good. Your not going to hurt ether by switching several weeks early or late.

    I've never bought a bag of oyster shells in my life. If you are free ranging or feeding a good quality layer feed you don't need it. Just feed the egg shells back to them if ya can.

    Nothing wrong with feeding corn but adding corn to a complete feed is like watering down cheep whiskey with bottled water. Sure ya end up with twice as much but its weaker an it cost you twice as much to so your not saving much if any. At least not here anyway. Corn an feed both are the same $7 an change for 50#.

    Really better off leaving the corn as a treat then part of there real food as long as they are caged birds. If there running free then corn is fine. I have used just corn to keep my free ranged birds friendly.

    I have never bought any grit ether. If you are feeding a chicken feed it has it mixed in. An if you are feeding grains then they just need to be able to get to the ground an pick up there own pebbles an sand.
  4. mama2many

    mama2many Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2010
    I have a mixed flock-lots of different ages. I feed grower until the yougest reaches 16-20 weeks in a feeder in the run then I switch to layer. They free range with free choice oyster shell in a small container inside the run. I haven't had a problem with flimsy shells after the first egg a young pullet lays and that was only one bird one time. I don't provide grit since they are free range and do feed scratch (3 grain) as a treat to keep them tame with BOSS mixed in. My birds are spoiled rotten and act like dogs. I am very lucky to have a patient DH who dosn't mind the feed bills now that they are producing enough eggs to sell a few dozen.

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