Newbie here, what feed to give and when?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by FriesianGroupie#1, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. FriesianGroupie#1

    FriesianGroupie#1 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 17, 2010
    Hey Peeps!!lol

    I have been reading alot of past posts and see that most suggestions are to continue feeding baby chicks the starter feed until 17-18 weeks old and then switch to layer feed when the girls start to lay eggs. Now I am a massive newbie, my 4 chicks are the first chicks Ive ever seen up close (im a horse freak, but have always thought a chicken was cool too) and i am gonna ask so REALLY ignorant questions, so please bear with me hehehe! And yes i am blonde, dern proud lol

    Okay, so my chicks are 5 weeks today (gonna go outside to the coop next week! yay!) and I am feeding them Manna Pro Medicated Starter Chick feed now. The bag says that this feed is to be given until they are 8 weeks old. What do I feed them next? Ive read that they should start laying around 10 weeks old? I want to eat the eggs when they start laying, what do i feed then? what is layer feeding and how do i make it layered? arent they gonna mix it up when they 'dance' in it? I'm not sure if all my chicks are girls, if one is a rooster (he will be separated from the girls) what do i feed him? What is grit? What is Scratch ( i know to feed as a treat but what is it)? What is oyster shell for?

    My chickens will be locked up in the coop for the night (too many raccoons and loose dogs at night I live in the woods yay!) should i put food in there too? Water will be in there too.We live in a very sandy area, is that okay for them?

  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Wow. *taking deep breath*

    Feed them grower/finisher, or "all purpose" feed, NOT layer feed. Some folks feed chick starter all the way up to laying, but I don't.

    They won't start to lay until they are 20-24 weeks old, and SOME don't start until much later. You didn't mention your chicken breed(s) so we can't even guess. But 10 weeks is far, far too young to start laying. Honest.

    You can either continue to fee dthem grower/finisher feed, and supply crushed oyster shell free choice, OR you can put them on Layer Feed, which is formulated with some calcium. Layer Feed could be called Layena, or some other name. It's not "layered" but labeled for egg layers.

    What's this about chickens dancing in their feed? They shouldn't be dancing in it, that's wasteful.

    If you have a rooster, he can eat the same stuff; even Layena won't necessarily harm him. It IS harmful to young chickens still growing, though!

    Grit is finely ground rocks, stones, bits of gravel, etc., which chickens use in their gizzards to grind up hard food. If they only eat commercial feed, they don't need grit. If, however, you give them ANY treats, you should supply grit for them. All purpose or construction sand works perfectly fine for grit.

    Scratch is a commercial mixture of corn and other stuff that should be used only for treats. Do NOT feed Scratch as main feed!

    Oyster shell is for the calcium layers need to help form good, strong eggshells.

    I keep feed in the coop so visiting sparrows and any other varmints can't eat it. Plus, it reconfirms where HOME is to the chickens.

    Sandy areas should be quite fine. Some folks would probably envy your situation!!!!
  3. Hi, Welcome to BYC! You can go to an unmedicated chick feed if you would like. Personally I feed Purina Flockraiser from day one up until 18 weeks then switch to their Layena feed for my hens. Those that we are planning on eating stay on Flockraiser. They will not start to lay until about 20 weeks, probably even a few weeks later depending on what type you have. "Layer" feed is for hens that will be "laying" eggs, it will say Layer on the bag, or should. Most layer feeds are complete, but be sure and read and make sure that they have calcium for your hens over 18 weeks of age. Don't feed layer to chickens younger than that, they don't need the calcium, its not good for them. Your rooster can eat whatever the others are eating, even when you switch to a layer feed. Grit is something that most commercial feeds already have in them, as long as you are feeding straight commercial starter/grower/layer feed it should have grit in it. Chickens need grit to work in the gizzard to grind up their food. Scratch is usually a combination of grains that is fed in small amounts, once a day as a treat basically. I don't start giving this to them until they are several weeks old and have access to the outside so they can pick up small stones, rock, "grit" on their own to help their gizzard process the grains, this will keep them from getting an impacted crop. Don't give them scratch when confined to a building or with no access to the outside. Oyster shell provides calcium for your hens that will be laying. Even though most layer feed contain calcium, some folks, (me included) keep a small pan of oyster shell available to my laying hens free choice, in other words, if they feel they need the extra calcium it is there for them. Hens will self regulate on calcium, so it is ok to have it available in a seperate pan all the time, don't mix it with their feed.

    If you have a light on in your coop at night for your birds while they are little, then yes keep food and water available. If they sleep in the dark then they won't need it except during the day.

    I don't know about the sand, but would think it would be alright.

    Good luck!
  4. FriesianGroupie#1

    FriesianGroupie#1 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 17, 2010
    Thanks for the advice!!

    So i need to find a grower feed, and that is different than the starter right?

    The 'dancing' is wasteful! they dance all in their food and make a scratching pattern left right left pattern, and they only do it when they eat! One starts and the others follow!

    Am I puuting my babies outside too early? We were planning on having them outside next week . . .

  5. elite8

    elite8 Out Of The Brooder

    May 16, 2010
    40/42 North Carolina
    Five to six weeks is a good time to put them in the coop. I waited until six because it was still cold out at night.

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