Questions about layer feed

KarynVA

Songster
May 29, 2020
230
575
133
SW Virginia
I am thinking about changing over to layer feed and I have a few questions. First, background: I have hens (no rooster) and they have all been laying for about a month. I've been using grower feed and I give them egg shells (free choice) and oyster shell (free choice). They have never laid a soft-shelled egg; their eggs are all perfectly formed and hard. They don't seem to take much of the oyster shell, though. It has been at the same level for weeks. They gobble up the eggshells though.

Question: I've always read that oyster shell (calcium) should be offered free choice and not mixed with feed. So what's the deal with 'layer feed' that has extra calcium?

Question: Since they don't seem to be taking the oyster shell, should I switch to layer feed and give up on the oyster shell (even though their shells don't seem to suffer from not having oyster shell)

Question: Can I stay on regular feed for them and is there any advantage to doing that as opposed to switching to layer?

Thanks for any insights!
 

rayrose

Chirping
Apr 17, 2020
144
162
81
Columbia, SC
My Coop
I have mine on 20% All flock with oyster shell in a separate container. My hens thrive on it. All layer feed has a lower protein level, which I didn't want to sacrifice. My birds have great looking feathers, and I didn't see any benefit in changing to layer feed. To me, it's a lot of hype with no benefit. Most All Flock already has some calcium in it.
 

Dottie the Chicken

Lover of Jesus, cows, and chickens
Premium Feather Member
May 8, 2020
1,322
4,193
223
Wisconsin
I personally feed layer feed to my ladies. I want lots of production from them. It takes calcium to make an eggshell. Therefore, some is very good for laying birds. If you do switch to layer feed, keep the oyster shell available. Let them decide whether or not they need it. Who knows, maybe the egg shells have been enough calcium and they don't need the oyster shell.

I'll tag some people who may be able to give further info:

@OneHappyRooster @aart @black_cat
 

OneHappyRooster

Free Ranging
Apr 5, 2020
6,099
13,414
566
Orpington-Land
Layer feed contains a set amount of calcium. This will not be healthy for underage pullets or males, since they aren't using all that calcium.
Supplementing OS means they have a choice. The birds that need the calcium will take it, the birds that don't will not.

If you have all laying hens, you can safely switch them onto layers. Although my preference is All-Flock or growers. This is partially because I have younglings and four males. And because layer feed typically has a low protein content.

I would not worry about them not eating the OS, until you get soft shelled eggs. Chances are they have taken some, or do not need any at the moment.
 

black_cat

Free Ranging
May 21, 2020
6,065
12,526
546
Connecticut
Agreeing with what Happy said-
Layer feed is great for when you have only hens. If there is a concern about calcium, I would switch them on to it, because that way you can be SURE that they're getting the calcium they need. Otherwise, I think that your setup is fine. it will also make it easier when you inevitably add new birds, because you won't need to worry about the younger ones having layer feed.
 

Thomas Hatchery

In the Brooder
Sep 23, 2020
18
38
33
I don't know if this will help much but this is what I do. Layer feed has extra calicum for helping form the egg and making it hard. While oyster shells do this too I heard that oyster shells are more for keeping the bones/muscles strong that push the eggs out. I use layer pellets because I have noticed that they waste layer crumbles more. Then I give them oyster shells too free choice
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
87,565
105,406
1,727
SW Michigan
My Coop
I don't know if this will help much but this is what I do. Layer feed has extra calicum for helping form the egg and making it hard. While oyster shells do this too I heard that oyster shells are more for keeping the bones/muscles strong that push the eggs out. I use layer pellets because I have noticed that they waste layer crumbles more. Then I give them oyster shells too free choice
Calcium is calcium and does both these things.
Layer feeds 3-4% calcium is enough for most layers, but some need more,
so offering OS in a separate feeder is a good thing to do.
 

GC-Raptor

Crowing
Jul 26, 2016
4,474
6,774
461
Connecticut, USA
I've been using grower feed and I give them egg shells (free choice) and oyster shell (free choice). They have never laid a soft-shelled egg; their eggs are all perfectly formed and hard.
Question: Can I stay on regular feed for them and is there any advantage to doing that as opposed to switching to layer?
I haven't fed a Layers feed in 3+ years.
I like a feed with 18 to 20% Protein.
My second and third Flock have never had a Layers feed.
I feed a Non-medicated Starter-grower after 10 weeks old throughout Adulthood with a separate container of Oyster Shells.
A recent collection of eggs from my Barred Rock hens and ISA Browns pullets.
20201019_094348.jpg

If it ain't broke, don't fix it,
You got it. GC
 

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