Should I be changing my chickens' feed for when they are moulting or just not laying in general during winter?

OwO

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I keep them on layer pellets all year round, even when they are not laying during moults/cold weather. This is mainly because their moults don't usually align so I'd have to separate those who are and aren't laying so they get the correct feed. Will layer pellet calcium content harm my chickens if they are not producing eggs?

Edit: Just realised I should have posted this in feeding and watering your flock - sorry
 

All4Eggz

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You should probably get a feed with higher protein whenever you see your first chicken starting to molt. When you see the last chicken finish molting, you can switch back.

I think the extra boost of protein helps them grow back their feathers faster and they will grow back healthier and prettier looking.

Will layer pellet calcium content harm my chickens if they are not producing eggs?
I doubt it would harm them.
 

rosemarythyme

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Will the extra calcium during winter harm them in the long run? Hard to say. I dilute down calcium a bit more during fall/winter as the flock winds down, however I don't switch feeds to compensate for molt. Instead I change the ratio of what I feed (so instead of 60/40 grower to layer I aim for more like 80/20), but that's because I feed 2 different feeds so it's easier to customize what they're eating that way.

More protein should help them through molt, so you might want to consider supplementing protein with a higher protein feed during this time of the year.
 

NatJ

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I keep them on layer pellets all year round, even when they are not laying during moults/cold weather. This is mainly because their moults don't usually align so I'd have to separate those who are and aren't laying so they get the correct feed.
Laying hens can safely eat other kinds of chicken food, as long as you provide a separate source of calcium (like a dish of oyster shell.)

Other than calcium, laying hens need the same nutrients as any other chicken.

Many people on this forum feed all-flock* feed to all chickens, of all ages, all year long. A dish of oyster shell lets the layers get the extra calcium they need, and is mostly ignored by the ones that do not need extra calcium. Chickens are usually quite good at self-regulating their calcium intake.

*all-flock feed is sometimes called flock-raiser feed, and you can also use chick starter or grower feed for chickens of all ages. There are many different names, but the actual feeds are pretty much interchangeable as long as they have similar protein levels and similar calcium levels.
 

OwO

Songster
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May 26, 2014
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Thank you very much for the advice everyone. Might pick up some grower feed soon for the winter and mix it in if that is ideal? Here is the feed I am currently using (it says 17% Crude Protein and 4.1% Calcium, among many other things):

1634749225656.png


Laying hens can safely eat other kinds of chicken food, as long as you provide a separate source of calcium (like a dish of oyster shell.)

Other than calcium, laying hens need the same nutrients as any other chicken.

Many people on this forum feed all-flock* feed to all chickens, of all ages, all year long. A dish of oyster shell lets the layers get the extra calcium they need, and is mostly ignored by the ones that do not need extra calcium. Chickens are usually quite good at self-regulating their calcium intake.

*all-flock feed is sometimes called flock-raiser feed, and you can also use chick starter or grower feed for chickens of all ages. There are many different names, but the actual feeds are pretty much interchangeable as long as they have similar protein levels and similar calcium levels.

So do the chickens "know" when they need more calcium? And they also "know" that the oyster shell provides calcium for them? In that case, is it best to just keep them on grower feed with oyster shell available (or at least during colder months)?
 

OwO

Songster
7 Years
May 26, 2014
190
43
151
Will the extra calcium during winter harm them in the long run? Hard to say. I dilute down calcium a bit more during fall/winter as the flock winds down, however I don't switch feeds to compensate for molt. Instead I change the ratio of what I feed (so instead of 60/40 grower to layer I aim for more like 80/20), but that's because I feed 2 different feeds so it's easier to customize what they're eating that way.

More protein should help them through molt, so you might want to consider supplementing protein with a higher protein feed during this time of the year.

So throughout the year do you have them on 60/40 grower to layer, even during spring and summer? Do you give them oyster shell?
 

NatJ

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So do the chickens "know" when they need more calcium? And they also "know" that the oyster shell provides calcium for them?
Basically yes, although ut probably works more like "that would taste good right now."

However it works, chickens usually will eat the correct amount of oyster shell when it is kept available in a separate container. I've read of a few cases where specific hens were not eating enough oyster shell and started laying softshell eggs, but it appears that MOST hens will do fine.

In that case, is it best to just keep them on grower feed with oyster shell available (or at least during colder months)?
That can work well, and plenty of people do it that way.
 

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