Should I change feeds?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by HSerChickLady, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. HSerChickLady

    HSerChickLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2012
    upstate NY
    My current flock of layers are making me wonder if their feed is working well for them. Mostly it's my Golden Comets. I'm not sure if it's the breed or the feed but i'm not impressed with the quality of their eggs. The whites are extremely watery and the yolks break almost everytime. It's nearly impossible to make a fried egg without the yolk either breaking when i put the egg in the pan or else it breaks when i try to turn the eggs. And the whites just run all over the pan. I've never had this happen with my home grown eggs or store bought eggs until i got these girls and i know someone else who has GC's and has the same trouble with his eggs (he uses a different feed than me, too).

    They also don't seam to be the hardiest breed. They seam to have trouble handling hot and cold weather. Last summer i had to give them electolytes when it was up in the 80's and 70's at night or else they were sitting on the roosts with their wings all spread open and beaks open. This winter once it gets into the 20's they're all huddled up with their feathers fluffed up and they spend all day in their coop. Again i've never had this with other breeds i've owned.

    These girls are on DuMor Layer feed. Plus i give them lots of extras since i can't free-range them: mealworms, seed treat i get at TSC, seeds/grains i custom mix, fresh veggies and fruits, occasionally cheese or yogurt-i try for a wide variety. They also get Cheerios and breads once in a while. Sometimes i also cook them mashed potatoes or oatmeal for a treat on cold mornings.

    Do you think it's the feed or the breed? If it's the feed perhaps the only other brands i have access to are Agway and Purina unless i make a special trip to a place that carries Blue Seal.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    The "Golden Comet" is not a breed. It is hybrid. Usually, these sex links are quite hardy, but they were developed primarily for the commercial laying houses where the temps don't fluctuate all that much. Thing is, that you cannot be sure of the parent stock of a hatchery hybrid. Just no real way of knowing.

    I've had a few different strains of these birds. Yes, some so-called Golden Comets as well. Their feed requirement is in keeping with most hatchery type birds. I would certainly try another feed. Purina makes DuMor so that "change" wouldn't be enormous. You could give the Flock Raiser, add shells on the side, and see what you think after feeding a bag. The 20% protein might make a recognizable difference. Try a bag of Blue Seal as well. Experiment and observe. Make mental note.

    Personally, I would want a higher ratio of animal protein than any of those listed feed brand options provide. I also find that egg quality improves greatly if the birds can spend 4-5 hours a day on pasture, which isn't always possible in the winter time. Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  3. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What you're describing is very odd. Thin whites and yolks that break are usually signs of old eggs. Are you collecting the eggs daily? Are you refrigerating them? Every day at room temperature is like 4 or 5 in the fridge. (I have more about storing eggs and egg safety here: http://www.hencam.com/henblog/handling-and-storing-eggs/ ) Are your birds stressed? Stress can interfere with the laying process and can change the quality of the eggs. Are the chickens vibrant and healthy?
    But, what I really think is going on is that you are feeding way too many extras. I'd remove all breads and extra carbs from their treat mix. I'd cut way back on the meal worms (not as nutritious as people tout.) Keep feeding greens to keep them busy, but that's it. I bet you'll see a difference.
     
  4. HSerChickLady

    HSerChickLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2012
    upstate NY
    I do collect the eggs daily-twice daily actually. They go right into the fridge as soon as i come inside. Once in a while i'll forget to but they're always in the fridge within a few hours of collecting them. The eggs are always used within 2 weeks of being layed.

    I don't think they're stressed. They seam just fine when i'm out there. If they are stressed the only thing i can think of the boys in the pen as they're not crowded at all. But this isn't a new problem. Their eggs have always been this way. And like i said i know another person who has the same problem with his eggs and his are on a different feed and free ranging. I've cut way back on the extras this winter and it hasn't made any difference in the eggs. I think i've only given them bread and cheerios a handful of times all winter. Sometimes they even lay eggs without shells or with very soft shells, though not very often. I just never had this with the other breeds i've kept in the past and it isn't a problem with the Ameraucana/Easter Egger who is also in this flock.
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    You've really got nothing to lose in changing feed, your original question. I have used three different feed products, as a staple, this past year. I can assure you there is a difference in them. The birds do not respond equally to the various formulas. Find one you like.
     
  6. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You've certainly presented us with a puzzle :) How old are these hens? As hens age, the texture of their eggs change. Whites get a bit more mealy and yolks not as sturdy. They're such productive layers that by the second year you'll see thin-shelled eggs because their bodies can't keep up. I'm assuming you're offering free-choice oyster shell. It might be the feed formulation. I've heard of feed mills who don't realize it, but their formula gets messed up in manufacturing process. But, I've a feeling that something else is up. I've had this breed and they've been sturdy, have handled the cold and the heat and did fine on the basic Agway ration. Do post in a month after you've switched feeds. I'll be interested to hear the result!
     
  7. HSerChickLady

    HSerChickLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2012
    upstate NY

    They are just under a year old now. I got them in late march last year. I gave them a packet of Save-A-Chick in their water this morning. Not sure if they need it but i doubt it will hurt either. Next week i think we'll try a different feed and see how it goes. I'll update when we've been on the new feed a few weeks.
     

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