Please advise...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by camone, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. camone

    camone New Egg

    Feb 9, 2014
    Flinstone GA
    Our "chicks" look full grown in every way! We have had them on starter then grower and I just accidentally picked up pellets. Can I let them eat them or should I go back to grower? These ladies and gentlemen are huge!!
  2. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2013
    If the pellets are for laying hens,then no do not feed,as too much calcium at this age can cause health issues down the road. Purchase age appropriate feed,save this bag for when they are older,approx 18 weeks and up.

    Basic guideline for feeding different ages: 1-8 weeks - starter feed,8-18 weeks - grower/developer feed,18 weeks up - layer feed.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How old are they? Size doesn’t matter nearly as much as age. What kind of feed is it? Since it is pellets, it’s probably Layer but I don’t like to jump to conclusions when the chicks’ safety is involved.

    There are three basic feed shapes, pellets, crumble, and mash. They make the feed by grinding up all the different components into a fine powder. That’s mash. If they want pellets, they mix that with water, extrude it through a dye, and flash dry it. If they want crumbles, they crush the pellets. The form of the feed means nothing. The reason they present different forms is that different automatic feeding equipment needs different forms to work well.

    The feed comes with all kinds of different mixes of nutrients. The two important ones are calcium and protein. Layer has extra calcium in it for the laying hens to use for egg shells. All the other mixes have some calcium for growth and body maintenance, but not the excessive amount in Layer. You can look on the tag under analysis to see what is in there. Fort Layer it is probably somewhere between 3.5% and 4.5% calcium. For all the others it is probably between 0.5% to 1.5% calcium.

    You’ll also see the percent protein there. That’s what separates the Starter, Grower, Developer, Finisher, and Flock Raiser from each other. The general idea for chicks that will be a laying flock is to start them on a higher protein feed the first month or two to help them feather out and get some good growth, then when that last bag of feed runs out, switch to something a little lower in protein so their maturity better matches their growth rate but there is personal preference in this. I like to start them off on a 20% protein Starter, then sometime between 4 and 6 weeks switch to a 15% to 16% Grower. I leave them on that forever, just offering oyster shell on the side for those that need the extra calcium for the egg shells. Some people feed a 20% Starter or Flock Raiser from Day 1 and never switch. Some people switch to Layer when they start to lay. It’s just personal preference and they all work.

    All that typing to get to your basic question which depends on how old are they? There are studies that show the extra calcium can cause permanent kidney and liver damage to young growing chicks. Death rates go up a little in these studies too, but they cut the chicks open to see what is actually going on inside in these studies. The chicks in these studies start on Layer at hatch or at 5 weeks of age and these all show bad results. What I don’t know for sure is when it is safe to start feeding them Layer. At some point they mature enough so that the extra calcium isn’t that big a deal, but I don’t know when that point is. Most recommendations are to wait to feed Layer until they start to lay or are 18 weeks old so that is what I’d suggest.

    Good luck.
  4. camone

    camone New Egg

    Feb 9, 2014
    Flinstone GA
    Thank you both so much for the very good information.
    Mine are between 20-22 weeks old but haven't yet started laying so I will save pellets for later!!

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