Pullet laying without layer feed or oyster shells?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sony57, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. Sony57

    Sony57 Out Of The Brooder

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    I was planning on using the rest of the grower feed before introducing layer feed so I was astonished when I found an egg at less than 14 weeks. The pullet is a black star and my research has suggested the earliest egg should be found around 16 weeks. I got the first egg yesterday and the second today. The eggshells are thick and perfectly shaped though they are are small weighing only 1.1 oz and 1.2 oz.

    I know other people who purchased black stars from the same store that are now over 6 months old and have not yet laid. One person I spoke to believed it was due to a lack of lighting because he had been providing layer feed. I have a neighbor with bantams that laid small (I mean like robin egg small) and thin eggs until they were given layer feed.

    My question is, does layer feed make that much of a difference or is lighting more important. My girls have a red bulb heat lamp on all night and enjoy 60 degree nights. They also receive cabbage and spinach often along with pieces of apples or other fruits sparingly. They also get 1/4 cup (between four birds) of scratch/mealworms on Sundays. They are required to perform tricks like peck a certain face card or maneuver through obstacles to receive the special treats. Is it possible that she has received enough nutrition from the veggies and treats to lay good eggs?

    I feel like she is laying early because she is happy and has plenty of light. I also think I just have a "star." My red star is nearly a week older than her and has not started laying yet.

    Does the heat lamp make up for the lack of layer feed? After I found the first egg I scuttled to the feed store and bought oyster shells and layer feed and began offering both immediately. They also always had grit. I don't know if that adds any nutrition for egg laying.

    As far as happiness, she is my main lap chick and eagerly does her tricks.

    Any ideas on why this bird is able to lay thick eggs despite the lack of layer feed? Is it possible lighting makes that much of a difference? Does her treat selection or veggies play a role?
     
  2. cypressdrake

    cypressdrake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your doing good. I have never herd of them laying so young. I had sex links lay at 20 weeks. Never herd of any laying so young.
     
  3. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    IT IS YOUR LOVE FOR HER. Well you know. Layer feed is different slightly in the amount of calcium it contains. I read the ingredients on bags of food and they were identical except starter has 2% calcium and layer has 4%. Now different brands may vary somewhat. I'm just stating what I saw. Same brand both feeds. You provided the additional greens and scratch and such, so their calcium need were met. Use up your existing feed since some of your hens are not laying yet, You don't start layer feed until they start laying. By providing them oyster shell on the side, your chickens will take it as they feel they need. Ideal , As to grit, it is necessary for them to grind up their food. Not the crumbles feed, but the scratch and seed that they get. There is some mineral value there but I'm not sure of exact amounts. The light plays some factor , chickens wont lay in the dark, Warmth I'm sure helps some, but I just think your hen matured slightly earlier than the others and wants to reward you for YOUR LOVE. The natural veggies I feel are a wonderful plus. . WISHING YOU BEST
    [​IMG]
     
  4. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    we are what we eat. so the birds are. I do not give any chicken feed, just grains, grit, oat flakes, boiled or scrambled eggs, yogurt, veggies, fruit, and they are free ranging in a small backyard. I have got 1 laying pullet (some kind of red sex link) and she gives me 5-6 eggs/wk. the other 4 are young, not laying (I lost 2 pullets due to cold weather and bad genetics).
     
  5. Sony57

    Sony57 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you guys, I think love probably does play a factor but I also think I just have a really special girl. The other two are not showing any sign of laying so I was worried that I might not be doing something right and just got really lucky with Ravyn. I am not too worried yet because they are so young, however, listening to neighbors and friends talk I wanted to see if anyone here had suggestions or critiscisms to what I have been doing. I was mostly concerned that I didn't start offering layer feed soon enough and if Ravyn would have complications because of this. It is now Thursday and I have received an egg a day since Sunday. All egg shells are thick and they seem to be getting steadily bigger.

    @chickengr We have a lot of large bird predators so I have kept my girls and guy penned up unless I am able to be outside with them. Right now there really is very little for them to forage, but I plan on letting them free range more during the spring. I am also waiting for the rooster to become large enough to keep the hawks away.

    I didn't mention before that we gave them boiled or scrambled eggs once a week when they were still in the house as chicks. We also gave them oatmeal once a week when they were little. I think I will start giving them eggs and oatmeal again if it is necessary but I was worried it would be wrong to feed your hen one of her own eggs?

    I was planning on mixing my own feed when they started laying but I was so shocked at the early egg that I reacted by buying layer feed. I didn't expect eggs until closer to April. I saw a youtube video posted by a girl who mixed her own feed and was planning on following her recipe. Does anyone have any feed suggestions?
     
  6. chickengr

    chickengr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    my chicken free range but in a very small backyard, not really foraging. I give them veggies, put some grit in a bowl (not with food). today I have got a surprise from my new pullet (not sure if she is 4 months old!) [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I have never bought any layer feed.
     
  7. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    You have to remember that layer feed is the easiest way out. During caveman times Purina and other feed companies did not exist yet. Chickens were here probably before caveman arrived. Here are my thoughts.. I am OLD SCHOOL and back about 60 years ago when my mother fed her chickens, all they would get was boiled potatoes with skins on and chopped up. Maybe a little wheat once in a while, and they foraged the grounds for all the rest. We did alright. That was all we had. I know that there are many peeps with different opinions on how to feed their chickens. They want to take a scientific approach. This gives me visions of Dr. Oz. and if it does not have all those antioxidants in it, then its wrong for you. I do see their point as to maximize egg production at minimal cost to make it economical to raise chickens and $ in to $ return to be in the positive column. When I posted on other threads , agreeing with some peeps that making your own chicken feed choices was Ok, I was nearly BEAT UP AND HUMILIATED. I have been doing something right. I have been feeding my hens MY own version of natural feed . They are not on a science diet. My last hen to go to the other side was 13 YEARS YOUNG. Check it out Dr. Oz. Not on science diet but probably got all the antioxidants naturally. Of course, all that $$$$ in feed and the few eggs ratio makes me a VERY BAD INVESTOR. As to you feeding your own chick, her own eggs. No issue. Just makes you a poor investor like me. Recycle your eggshells into their feed. Crumble them. Provide them with calcium on the side such as oyster shells. A bag will go a long way. Not that expensive. It does at least 3 things. Provides natural source of calcium for eggshell production. Works as grit. And prevents calcium deficiency in their bones. ( Osteoporosis in people) . Don't be afraid to take that road less traveled. Mixing your own feed will be fine.
    [​IMG]
    Now I have to hide from getting BEAT UP. [​IMG]

    P.S. I have NO HARD FEELINGS against Dr. Oz.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Sony57

    Sony57 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks cavemanrich...I was considering mixing my own feed because my chicks are my pets not because of egg production. I want them to be happy and healthy. I agree that they will probably do better by foraging than what purina can provide. If I recall correctly I think purina/beneful is being sued based on the ingrediants they provide to dogs so I don't think I can feed my chicks any worse than they do. I can read and follow basic nutrician charts so I am confident I will be able to provide them with a full balanced diet. I plan on starting this diet in May. My red star is already laying as well and my easter egger is showing signs (red cheeks and squatting!). I started this thread because I heard so many rumors that hens won't lay unless they are on layer feed, I guess my Ravyn proved them wrong! she laid one rubbery egg and less than 12 hours laid a double yoker so I am confident that they are getting everything they need right now.

    Does anyone have any feed recommendations as far as mixing yourself, not feed store stuff?
     

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