Should I only give my chickens laying mash?

mrl8810

Chirping
Jun 26, 2019
47
36
54
I have some hens that I want to lay and they are technically laying but not as much as even a few weeks ago. I'm giving them the same food as I was and nothing has changed. I now give them half laying mash and half-cracked corn...along with occasional treats like watermelon, cantaloupe, apples etc

Someone told me that I should be feeding ONLY laying mash to keep them laying and I was wondering if this is true? Will my chickens be getting the nutrition they need and be healthy if i feed them 100% laying mash instead of cracked corn as well. I will still give them treats like watermelon etc

Also I have a few roosters in with them but I've had them since day one. Thanks
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,203
18,537
632
South Park, Colorado, USA
All of those treats are ok for chickens to eat, but they are just treats. By giving them only half laying mash and half cracked corn, they probably aren't going to get the protein they need to keep being productive. Generally the corn plus any other fruits and veggies should only make up 10% or less of their overall diet. I like to give my birds their boring old feed first thing in the morning, and only after they have eaten all that, I might give them a bit of cracked corn or some kitchen scraps in the evening, but only a small amount, and not necessarily every day of the week. Plenty of fresh water available is also good for egg production. I know you don't have much control over the weather, but weather can stress birds and cause a drop in production, so if it's extremely hot where you live it's important to provide shade and help chickens stay cool enough, and if it's extremely cold, it's important to provide ways to keep them warm enough and dry. If you are in a part of the world where daylight hours are getting shorter, a drop in production is normal until after the solstice when they start getting longer again, supplemental lighting can help minimize this impact. Also watch your birds behavior, check feather condition, give the coop a good once over, sick birds do not lay well, things like mites and lice and respiratory illness and worms can all cause a drop in production. I hope you can look at all the factors involved and hopefully find small changes you can make that will help boost production back up! Good luck.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
19,971
832
California's Redwood Coast
Cracked corn is crap like chips of the chicken world. Tasty but lacking in nutrients including protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are added into our formulated rations.... which are often made from mostly corn already.

Yes, it's true that diminished nutrition can cause a whole host of issues including decreased laying, and immunity to parasites and disease. Adding in the corn can even contribute to fatty liver syndrome and possibly failure or death... though *most* likely in birds that genetically predisposed somehow, such as Orpington.

With regards to "layer" mash... I never use "layer" feed partly because it only has 16% protein which is about the bare minimum for light bodied layers like Leghorn. Dual purpose birds such as Rocks or Marans will do best with not less then 18%. But also because I don't want my roosters, broody's, molter's, or juveniles to have the added calcium of "layer" which *can* (doesn't mean will) cause kidney issues including gout and even failure... again, *most* likely in birds that have been genetically predisposed. I keep my birds for breeding so nutrition is important to me. 22% protein was shown to give the best hatch rates, which to me says more nutrition in the eggs my family is consuming. Also feathers are made from 90% protein and it's amino acids.

Your birds will actually get the most nutrition if you use a formulated ration such as layer, grower, flock raiser, or even starter. The main differences in ALL the feeds is going to be protein and calcium content. But YES... it sounds like that person DID give you accurate information regarding corn verses layer feed.

My preference... is (Purina) Flock raiser with 20% protein, and oyster shell available free choice on the SIDE for active layers to take what they need. While non layers may sample the OS, they are able to avoid it and not likely to overdose, which in juveniles can stunt growth and delay onset of lay.

The general rule of thumb to keep things balanced as mentioned by the other poster is... not more than 10% of their total daily intake in treats. :)

Hey, hope you are enjoying BYC! :frow

Good for you for looking into the nutrition thing. It's ALWAYS a good idea to get a second or even third opinion on this type of stuff since plenty of folks are well meaning but sadly often misinformed. ;)
 

21hens-incharge

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
26,198
108,722
1,672
Northern Colorado
I too feed an all flock feed.

Cracked corn doesn't even go on my list of things to buy.
I do give some scratch daily that has 5 kinds of grains and yes one of those is corn. No need to give even more corn. ;)

I took in 6 birds that for the first year were fed 80% cracked corn and 20% pellets. They all had issues related to nutrition.
None laid as they should have and all died before 5 years old.

Was the person that told you to only feed layer right? Kind of. They were right that there needed to be a change.
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,394
602
Idaho
Depending on where you are at, it's possible they are heading into molt which drops your egg production, Mine tend to stagger theirs. The process can take up to a month
 

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