Question on all-purpose flock-starter....

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Amethyste, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    I have been told by a few people now that I should feed my hens a higher protien formula rather than the layer pellets. They told me I should be giving them something like the all-purpose pellets which have a higher level of protien, and then make sure they have plenty of oystershell.

    I am confused now tho....Is it really better for them to have higher protein? I was under the impression that the later pellets and the oystershell would be fine. I mean, Im sure that it is...but if it would be better for my girls to do this then I will.

    I have the teenage chicks that are almost 12 weeks old. Everyone is on the grower crumble atm, but I am thinking ahead to when I need to switch everyone over to the layer pellets.

    So, whats the big deal about the protein? Can anyone explain it to me please?
  2. wombat

    wombat Songster

    Jun 23, 2009
    If your birds are at 12 weeks, you should still have them on a grower formula. They need the protein for growth. If you start layer rations too early, you can affect growth and cause other health problems, mostly from starting increased calcium at too young an age.

    I use Purina Start and Grow, but there are plenty of other brands.

    At somewhere from 16+ to 20 weeks depending on breed and maturation, switch over to layer feed. I start to phase in layer in small amounts at the start, and gradually use more of it and less grower, so I'm not really starting layer at 16 weeks so much as introducing it, and phasing it in ... also good for using up that last bag of grower. We're fully over to layer by about 18 weeks, though you might want to put this off a couple weeks if you have slower maturing breeds. The general idea is that their structure should be at the mature stage (though the bird won't be "filled out" before you start layer ration); ideally you want to get over to layer a bit before they come into lay so that they've already had the layer nutrition for a couple weeks when they start laying.

    Here's the basic Purina chart:

    Start offering free choice oyster shell in a separate feeder at about 18 weeks as well, maybe a couple of weeks sooner if you have sex-links as they can come into lay earlier than other breeds. The oyster shell is for added calcium for egg shell formation. It's not really necessary if you are feeding confined flocks a layer formula, but if your birds are getting scratch, garden scraps, foraging outside the run, etc, then they are getting less than a full ration of layer, and may or may not be getting enough calcium from other sources.

    I try to get mine to eat sufficient layer ration by feeding them only this in the morning, when they're hungry ... and not giving them scratch or free-range until after "breakfast."

    Try to keep scratch grains down to 10%-15% of total, same thing with not letting them completely pig out on grass.

    If you've been on crumble, and are planning to move to pellets, and also if you're allowing them to forage, make sure they have access to grit, either naturally from their environment, or offering free choice purchased grit. (Grit is small, rocky material larger than grains of sand, smaller than pebbles, used in the bird's crop to "chew" / grind up food).

    I use pellets when I switch to layer because I think they waste less ... but it always seems to take them a couple weeks to get used to pellets instead of crumble, which is why I phase in pellets and increase them while decreasing crumb over time ... they always start out tossing the pellets on the ground, but eventually realize they are "food."

    Sorry if some of this was stuff you already knew ... good luck with your flock.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  3. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    LOL oh they are not being switched over yet....I am waiting till everyone is on layer feed so no worries [​IMG] I switched birds over before <have had my birds for 5 years> so I know about that lol

    Been there done that...
    -freefeeding oystershell
    -freefeeding grit
    -freefeeding the grower crumble atm <16-18 weeks switch to layer pellets>
    -they get scratch as treats

    This is really only conjecture atm for when I DO change over to this new formula, or not.

    I just wasnt sure on the info I was given...I have always given layer feed about 16-18 weeks, and am being told that they should be on the flock-raiser all purpose thing instead of the layer pellets cos of the higher protien.
  4. rstampa

    rstampa Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    Tampa, Florida
    Since you have 5 years of experience with raising them, I'm not sure what your question is? From what Purina, and all the other brands I've read, they recommend switching over to Layer once they start to lay. Which is around 18-20 weeks. But may be sooner or may be later.
    My girls are 12 weeks old and I started them on Flock feed which has 20% protein, until they are laying. Then I'll switch to layer.
    Hope that is what you are asking.
  5. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I keep mine on flock raiser with oyster shell in a seperate bowl. I don't feed layer because I don't like my roos to have the extra calcium.
  6. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Hmmm thought i was clear in my question.

    Ok try again. I have been told that when it comes time to switch them to layer, instead of layer I should be putting them on the all purpose flock keep cos it was higher protien and have shell on the side.

    I have always switched to layer at 16-18 weeks.

    Why would flock keeper with higher protien be better than layer?
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    The only time they really need the extra protein is when they are molting or under other stress, though, something like 20% won't hurt them at all. They sell 22% super-layer pellets here, which I get when alot are molting.

    Some folks do the all-purpose feed for all the birds and add oyster shell on the side; some use FlockRaiser, some use game bird grower (Purina's is called Flight Conditioner and is 19% protein).
  8. faykokoWV

    faykokoWV Mrs Fancy Plants

    Nov 4, 2008
    Cross Lanes, WV
    Quote:I use flock raiser for everyone as well. Mostly because I always have had adults and teens in together. I recently added a duck to the mix, so the flock raiser remains an appropriate feed for all of them.
  9. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...


    Thats what I needed to know...I couldnt figure out why they were saying I should switch to the flock raiser.

    Now I know [​IMG] Appreciate all the help!

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