9 Years
Sep 18, 2010
Ive got 3, 10-11 week old pullets, they are currently on growers pellets, mixed grit and what ever they pick up when free ranging. Im wonder what age i will need to start putting them on layers pellets?? (ive still got virtually a full bag of pellets since theres only 3 of them they dont eat that much i fill their food thing up once a week!)
I began layer ration at 20 wks (3 wks ago)and had both pellet and crumbles. I started to use the pellets first and, since chickens are habitual in preferences, I anticipated some slowdown in their eating and I was right. I then finished off the pellets and my girls now get the crumbles, which are their favorite!

I have also recently discovered that a starter feed w/ higher protein levels (20-22%) is good to use as long as oyster shell is kept available. My girls were never switched from starter to grower so they are large birds. I feel the starter keeps them healthier and able to heal any tissue damage that may occur, like feathers for molting, abrasions/lacerations, etc.
Why, were they laying? There is no good reason to feed layer to nonlaying pullets.

As far as the grower is concerned--once your chickens start to lay give them some oyster shell in an separate feeder and feed out the grower or gradually mix it with layer. The biggest difference between the two types of feed is the amount of calcium in the layer so by adding oyster shell you will take care of that--no sense in tossing good food but, by the same token, don't force layer food on prelaying birds it will cause health problems down the road. They need to get rid of the calcium by covering their eggs with it, not trying to filter it through their kidneys.

You don't actually have to feed layer ever, just offer oyster shell when they start laying. There are a variety of ways to feed chickens well.
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Why, were they laying? There is no good reason to feed layer to nonlaying pullets.

Our management guide for the commercial layer hens we use here (specific strains of red sex-links) recommends upping their calcium intake to 2.25% at 16 weeks old (generally two weeks before they start laying), to help develop the meduallary bone that acts as a reservoir of calcium for eggshell production. They recommend a full layer ration (4% calcium or so) at the onset of production (18 weeks old), although the birds don't reach peak production until 27 weeks old. They also note: "Contrary to popular belief, it is not recommended to wait until 5% production before feeding a layer ration."

Conveying that to backyard production, I'd say add a little oyster shell here or there a few weeks before you expect them to lay and switch to a layer ration at the first egg.

Or not... There's more than one way to skin a cat. Everybody has their own methods that also seemingly work just fine.
I've been looking around at the different feed manufacturer's recommendations and a few ag extension papers and the general consensus is either:

- Start laying hens on layer feed at 16 weeks old or first egg


- Start laying hens on layer feed at first egg, but never give layer feed to pullets less than 16 weeks old.

Both generally jibe with the management guide recommendation that I posted earlier.
When I put my 17 week old teens in with the bird girls I switched them to the layer I was giving the big girls.
Hens start getting ready to lay eggs before the first egg appears. Having a good store of calcium before then seems to be helpful rather than waiting until after you see eggs and they have already started to use more calcium than they are getting. I don't see how you'd cause health issues increasing their calcium just a week or 2 before they are likely to lay. Personally if I'm going to switch to layer (often I fed gamebird with free choice oyster shell instead) then I just do it at 16weeks since several of mine would start then and even the ones that often didn't lay until 8months never seemed to suffer from it. The ones I butchered both around that time and a couple years later still looked healthy and normal.

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