put 13 wk olds back on starter??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by hensonly, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. hensonly

    hensonly Songster

    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    HI, all,

    I have 26 dorkings, 13 weeks old yesterday. I know they aren't as fast maturing as the hatchery birds, and they seem a reasonable size for their age (not that I have lots of experience!!). But I've had a couple of incidents of tail-feather picking (pine tar took care of it) and I was wondering if that's the age, with the roos starting to mature and getting bossier, or if maybe they need the higher protein because they're trying to grow in the colder weather.

    I started giving them some BOSS this past week and haven't seen any new feather picking since, but I don't want to give them too much BOSS and throw their diets off balance...if they need more protein, should I put them back on the starter/grower 20%? At 10 weeks (per the instructions on the feed bag) I switched them to grower/finisher 15%. As I said, their size seems ok, none of them have a ton of meat on them yet. Is this a natural growth pattern, or do they need a little boost because of the colder weather?

    Thanks for any input.
  2. You could also try a seed block for them to peck at.
    Double their space, or divide them up, if possible.
    Feed a can of cat food to increase protein.
    Hang a cabbage from a cord.
    Dim the lights. Too much light often causes intense behaviors.

    Best of luck
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I agree with previous poster in that they need more space or other things to peck at for entertainment rather than each other. 13 weeks is rambunctous adolecents. You've no doubt noticed they're chirp was changing to cluck in the past week. The lil' nippers are growing up.
  4. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    Feb 12, 2009
    The seed block is great I only pay 11.99 for a 20lb block, from Purina. I add one when adding new girls to our layers coop to distract the bossy girls. How big of a space do you have them in?
  5. you can make a seed block too if you want. I make mine by taking day old bread and grinding it up in the food processor kinda coarse. Put that in a large bowl. add to that some scratch grain, oyster shell, dried fruit , nuts, dried veggies, etc (Be careful to only add things that are safe for your flock, there's a chart somewhere in the learning center I believe). Then I add a little water, just enough to hold the mess together. Take this and put it in a bread pan, pack it tightly and dry it in the oven at 200 degrees for about an hour. check it avery ten minutes or so. You want it pretty dried out. It will cool to a rock solid shape later. It's usually dried out enough just as it first begins browning. You can make it as large or as small as you like, and it will entertain my flock for a few days.

    other peole give them a cabbage to attack and peck at. hang it just out of easy reach so they really have to jump at it to get it.

    a pumpkin or squash you might have gotten from the store but have no use for, entertains for awhile too. Crack it a little for them and let them go at it. (it's been said several times here that pumpkin is very good for them, something about it's digestion benefits I believe.)

    mealworms in a shallow tub of oats and other misc foods will add protien to their bodies as well. I have a small composter also that I occassionally dump over for them to dig through too, it's always good for a few worms and other bugs.

    Any of these ideas are good for them to stop picking at themselves and each other.

    I think 13 wks is plenty old enough to get off of the grower. I don't know if others would agree or not. (But then again mine aren't meaties...dunno if yours are for meat or not...but mine are just for eggs and pets)with wintery confinemtns and lack of plants to keep busy with I think it might be a little more boredom that is the cause of the picking. But I don't know your birds as well as you do. Good luck!
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  6. I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't put my layers on grower/finisher at all...........kept them on starter until they were 18 weeks and then started switching them to layer pellets. I had my first egg at 18 1/2 weeks from one of the Ameraucana's...........I thought grower/finisher feed was for meat birds?

    Haven't had any problem with feather picking, fighting, or anything out of the ordinary...........I do have a 10' X 12' coop with 14 pullets and 1 rooster, plus a rather large outside run that they have access to unless the temps are really frigid. I guess if your coop is a little cramped, I would try some of the suggestions above to keep the flock busy doing something other than picking on each other...........

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