Not sure what to do about feeding different age chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Brie6895, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Brie6895

    Brie6895 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 chickens that are 21 weeks old that are still on pedigree start and grow. I have 6 chickens between 14-16 weeks old that are also on start and grow. My question is when should I change their feed to laying feed and how could I go about doing that since they are all in the same pen. I've been told to never give a chicken under 20 weeks laying feed. Someone pls help.
     
  2. LBejaran

    LBejaran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's not bad to start your birds on layer feed at 18 weeks. Their bodies are already preparing to start laying eggs and even if they start laying eggs at 24 weeks instead of 20 weeks, layer feed will provide them with enough calcium to start off.

    If you'd like, you can do a mix of starter and layer feed. That way, your older and your younger pullets have what they need. I do that sometimes when I'm really tired of feeding my slightly younger chicks separately. I always end up staggering my chick purchases, so I end up doing this a lot. [​IMG]
     
  3. Brie6895

    Brie6895 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So should I wait about two weeks to start mixing them together since the youngest are 14 weeks?
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Relax, as there is little difference in their ages. There isn't some HUGE differential. Just keep feeding the starter/gro. If your older birds start to lay, just offer a side dish of crushed shells for a calcium source, The laying hen is the only bird who's body is requiring the extra doses of calcium and only they mess with the supplement, as a rule.

    Once your youngest birds are 18-19 weeks, you can go ahead and switch everyone to layer formula, which isn't THAT much different in content except the bonus calcium is ground in for your convenience.

    Once a bird is 18-19 weeks old, the higher calcium in layer doesn't have enough time to damage their renal systems or cause gout. Feeding layer to very young chicks, over a long period of time, can indeed cause these internal issues.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
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  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    How much feed do you have left? You could mix the two together for now. When you run out of starter, the easiest thing to do with multi-age flocks is to feed All Flock or Flock Raiser, with a feeder of free-choice oyster shell on the side. Birds of all different ages and stages do well on Flock Raiser, and the hens that need the additional calcium will take what they need from the oyster shell.

    If, like me, you find Flock Raiser to be too expensive to feed all the time, then you have to find a way to separate the younger birds from the older. Mine live in a separate pen until they're 19 weeks old, then are moved to the laying flock.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Just feed the grower until everyone's of laying age. There's nothing magical about layer feed, you don't have to change right at a specific age. I never use layer, just grower for all my birds of all ages. Feed out the grower you have, buy another bag if you're close to using up what you have, then change to layer when that bag is done.
     
  7. Brie6895

    Brie6895 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I am out of feed as of tonight so I am going to the store tomorrow. I think I might just buy them the starter grow again and use it until they are 18 weeks old and then switch them all to the layer.

    Is it ok if they start to lay without being on layer feed? As long as I have a side of oyster shell?
     
  8. LBejaran

    LBejaran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some may lay while only eating the starter feed, but they probably won't lay as much without that supplemental calcium. Or you'll end up with very thin-shelled eggs. Having the oyster shell available now would definitely help your oldest hens prepare for laying. Layer feed, as Fred's Hens said, really just has the calcium added into the feed (and it has a slightly lower content than starter).
     
  9. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am doing the same thing I have 14 week mixed with 24 week. Just mix up your feeds and it seems to even out. My younger ones tend to stay a bit apart and this also makes it easy to give them a higher protein treat while the hens are distracted by egg/oyster-shells!
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Yes. I never, ever feed layer feed and just give them their shells and/or oyster shell. My flock has laid just fine for 20 years without layer feed. Not sure what I'd do if they laid any better, I'm already making 10 egg pound cake!
     

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