Real Conversation About Feed


In the Brooder
Mar 22, 2018
I'll be honest here, I raised numerous chickens over the years but they were all Asian game chickens, Thai, Asil breeds. I raised them in Asia for three years and I never had any issues. We fed mostly wheat, corn, and scratch along with rice occasionally.

Fast forward 15 years later, I am helping my parents with their retirement flock of BOs and a few RIR and GCs. My parents are hoping the BO hens will set and rear their own while the RIR and GCs will be for eggs/meat. They are free ranging chickens in a 2000 sq ft enclosure. So my question has to do with feed.

I see now that there are 4 main types of feed; chick starter, growing feed, layer feed, and flock raiser. Is all of this NECESSARY? So if I have a hen with its chicks, I have to feed both the hen and the chicks chick starter? Not to mention if I don't isolate them from the rest of the flock, I must feed the rest of the chickens chick starter?

But then what happens to the layers? I know I must keep my RIRs and GCs separate since they should get layer feed but my chicks can't have layer feed?

Lastly, what happens when I have two or three hens with different aged chicks?

IS this all even realistically possible to separate all the birds? Back in Asia, with our Asian game chickens, they were all fed the same grains and the chicks weren't given chick starter or even crumble. The hens took care of the chicks and the chicks just ate whatever the hen could find as well as broken pieces of rice, wheat, and corn.

I'm just trying to figure this because I have a real life, multi-age, free ranging flock.

PS, I am a seasoned pigeon man so I am not just a chicken guy.
I suggest you just feed everyone Flock Raiser or All Flock and provide Oyster Shell on the side. I feed Flock Raiser year round and it doesn't matter what age as long as there is OS available and provide chick grit for the youngin's.

I don't think it's logical nor possible to try and get each age group to eat a specific feed without separating them and it's also not necessary to try. Flock Raiser has higher protein so it's good especially for the chicks.
The only feed that isn't safe for all ages and stages is layer feed. That is for actively laying birds only. The high calcium content just isn't safe for birds that aren't going to use it up with egg production. Hens can get all the calcium they need from crushed oyster shell. Many of us here have never bothered with layer feed at all. Game types do tend to be better foragers than other breeds and require very little feed supplemented. With only 2,000 sq ft of forage, some sort of all flock/starter/grower will be needed.
I use starter/grower for all the chickens, and feed back egg shells. Most of the time I boil/steam whole eggs that were *too dirty* to clean, then smash them up with shell on and feed it back to the chickens. I've not had any soft shell issues yet (knock wood).
The first flock I had I did the chick starter/grower till 18-20 weeks then changed to layer feed. After reading on this site about people not using the layer feed. With my second flock I did the chick starter/grower until about 16 weeks and then did the grower/finisher with oyster shell and these I fine filled out very nicely. They look like what I pictured a hen to look like. Never used the flock raiser.

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