Okay for Layers to be Eating Starter/Grower Feed?


10 Years
Oct 5, 2009
Parthenon, Arkansas
Hi all... I have a couple of broody hens so I'm always in and out of chicks. I have a treadle feeder for the layer feed for my grown hens but they of course enjoy the starter/grower feed that the babies get. I know one main difference in the two is that layer feed has higher protein and calcium. I have oyster shells out free feed for the hens if they want it. Will it hurt my hens if they continue to eat a lot of starter/grower?

The Layer should have about the same protein as Grower and less protein than Starter. But the protein is not the issue. The calcium in Layer is the problem for the young chicks.

The chicks will eat the Layer. You can’t keep them out if they have any access at all. They’ll fly up to the feeder if you elevate it. The broody will break the chunks up for them if the pellets are too big for them.

The traditional way to feed a mixed flock like that with laying hens and young chicks is to feed Starter, Grower, Flock Raiser, something like that low in calcium to everyone and offer oyster shell on the side for the hens that need it for the egg shells. The laying hens will do fine on any of those feeds and the non-laying chickens will not eat enough oyster shell for the excess calcium to cause a problem.
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Thanks for the reply. The young chicks don't have access to the layer feed because it is in a treadle feeder so that is not an issue. it's the older birds eating the starter and you answered my questions! thanks.

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