and need help!


In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 8, 2011
I ordered a fantastic chicken coop and the contractor will be here next week to attach a large pen w/roof for my 6 RIR's layer hens. I started looking on this forum as to what feed is best for my girls and now thoroughly confused. So far I have read that people use Blue Seal, Purina Layena, and Dumor. Seeing that some have had issues with smell and waste I was hoping that someone could point me in the right direction. My girls should be laying by next week. I have also been told to mix in scratch an oyster shell with the food.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
I think you will be getting a wide range of answers as everyone feeds differently and that might confuse you more. Most importantly you need lay crumbles or pellets (whichever you prefer) and make sure they have at least 16-18% protein as you will need that much for decent eggs. If you can find better then by all means get it. I feed mine a mixture of rolled corn, rolled oats, rolled milo, soybean meal and lay crumbles. I give them scratch as a snack. Not sure it has much nutritional value but they seems to enjoy it. If they free range they will get a lot of their protein just from bugs, etc... Also I don't see any need for oyster shell. It's god awful expensive and if you think they need it then save your egg shells and crush them and feed them back to them.
Oh and btw
I feed Purina Sunfresh Flock Raiser as I have more than 1 type of poultry. I provide a small rabbit feeder with oyster shell for the girls if they want it. I don't feed scratch except for a treat in the winter. I save all my kitchen scraps except onion and garlic and give it to the girls. Haven't had a compost bin since I got them!

They won't need the oyster shell if you feed them laying mash/crumbles/pellets, the calcium is already in there. As stated before, scratch is a snack and I don't mix mine with food but throw it on the floor to give them something to "scratch" for. I give mine equal parts of cracked corn and cardinal mix (black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS), safflower seeds). Don't worry too much about getting everything right. It's a learning experience for all of us. It'll take time to decide what's right for you and your chickens. Good luck and have fun!
I feed Agrimaster to my layers, a mix of Layer and Broiler feed. I used to feed Flock Raiser, but it was too expensive. I add scratch mixed in with their crumbles in the winter, but in the summer they get free range and do not need the scratch. So far, they look great. Be careful of adding too much scratch, because it is like candy and is not very nutrient dense, compared to layer feed.
Every name brand is going to have its proponents and detractors. Some people swear by Dumor, some swear at it. Same with the others.

If they are of laying age, they need a feed that is about 16% protein and has somewhere over 4% calcium. If that is all they get, then they will do fine. It is called Layer. It can be this simple if you allow it to be.

Which brand? That depends on the last person you talk to. We all have different criteria and preferences.

Where it can get complicated is that we usually don't just feed them Layer. We give them treats or supplements. Some people add things to drinking water. This is usually not a big deal because chickens have a wide tolerance of conditions where they can do well. If they free range, they don't wake up and say "I need 12 June bugs, 21 earth worms, 31 Japanese beetles, and 2 wasps to meet today's requirements. Oops, that was 13 June bugs. What am I going to do!" They pretty much balance it with green stuff, seeds, and creepy crawlies, whatever they can find. As long as they are within general tolerances, they are fine.

If we feed them a lot of stuff that is low in protein, then the 16% protein layer may not give them enough protein. Some people that do that feed a higher protein ration to balance it back out. It is not about what percent protein they eat, it is about how much total volume of protein they eat.

Scratch can be many different things. It is often corn, whether cracked or whole does not matter. Scratch usually is lower in protein but higher in fat than their regular feed, and they will usually pig out on scratch and ignore their regular feed. Think of a child with candy. It does not have as much nutritional value as their recommended diet, but most children sure prefer candy. I like it too. If your chickens are confined and basically all they eat is what you give them, it is generally recommended to not give them more treats than they can clean up in 15 to 20 minutes and their diet will remain balanced. Many of us violate that rule, by the way.

Oyster shell is to provide calcium, mainly for the egg shells. Laying hens need a lot of calcium. If all they eat is Layer, they should get enough calcium from that. If you are feeding a lot of other stuff, then they may not. Or they may get even more calcium form hard shelled bugs, gravel they use as grit if you are in limestone country, or from some plants. If your egg shells are hard, they are getting enough calcium. If the egg shells are not hard, then you need to provide more and oyster shell is a good way to do that. I hang a container on the side of the run and put oyster shell in that. That way, if they want it, they can get it. If they don't want it, they can ignore it. Mine mostly ignore it, but I keep it available any way. A small bag lasts me a very long time.

You can make it as complicated as you want or as simple as you want. Your choice. As long as you stay within some pretty wide boundaries your chickens will do OK.
I feed based on what the feeds stores carry. The commercial feed companies have making feed a science--they are all about the same.

When I needed chick feed, one store didn't carry it until mid-Feb; one mill only makes layer pellets, not chick feed. I ended up at a third store with only one product suitable for chicks vaccinated for coccidia.

Start with a commercial feed suited for layers. Just pick one to start with. THen read the labels as you have time and see the subtle differences used to attract customers and keep their peice of the market. As your knowlegde increases, you will have your own opinion about which feed is best for your birds.

Hope you enjoy your birds--the eggs will be coming soon . . . yum!
Many thanks for all the responses it is greatly appreciated! I took some good notes to carry with me as I shop for feed. There was a problem with the coop and they had to make another one which has delayed me one week to getting my RIR hens. But it will be a good time to study the various feeds that are available with the information I got here.

Thanks again!!
What I feed my chickens is 16% Layer Crumbles that I buy from Orschelns, not sure if you have one of those, but I'm sure they have it at TCS too. We mix some cracked corn in with the layer crumbs too, especially in the winter, since it helps supply them with energy.
You can also give chickens a lot of treats! I give my chickens yogurt, oatmeal, canned corn, bread, cheerios, sunflower seeds, and many other things.
Its important to NEVER feed chickens sugar, salt, or citrus, plus undercooked or dry beans, avocado skins and avocado pits, or raw eggs.
I have heard that potato peels are bad for chickens too, but I have given them to my flock from time to time, and it hasn't done a thing to em, they like eating the little bit of 'meat' thats left on em when theyre peeled.
Have fun with your new house!

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