Should I switch their feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Gwen, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. Gwen

    Gwen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Langley, Washington
    I have 7 hens that are about 3.5 months old. None have started laying yet and I've read that when they mature in the fall, they often wait til spring to begin laying. Which is fine, but should I switch their feed to layer feed when I run out of the current bag? Even if they aren't laying, they'll be laying age and it seems to me I should switch. What do you think?
     
  2. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Wait until about 16-18 weeks to switch to layer ... 16 for fast maturers like sex links (at the earliest), and 18 weeks or so for anything else. I start phasing in a little layer at first, and gradually switch to more later and less grower as I get closer to running out of the grower feed.

    Once they're mature, they're fine on layer even if they take some time off from laying. Just don't start immature birds on layer.
     
  3. Gwen

    Gwen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Langley, Washington
    Okay, I'll wait til the end of the month then, when they will be 4 months. I hope I have enough food to get to then. I'd hate to buy another big bag that I can't use up. Or can I continue to use it, mixing it in with the layer until the grower is all gone?
     
  4. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    Yes, you can mix it in. I switch from grower crumble to pellet layer, and it takes them a while to get used to the idea that pellets are food ... but I think I get less waste with pellets. Phasing in the pellets helps them adjust to it ... just my opinion, but it has worked well for us.

    4 months is only about 16 weeks, I'd wait until 18 weeks unless you have faster maturing birds ... sex links are closer to mature at 16 weeks, but 18 weeks is probably better for most breeds ... and maybe 20 weeks for slow-maturing sorts.
     
  5. Gwen

    Gwen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Langley, Washington
    I have 2 buff orpingtons, 1 black star, 1 black australorp, 1 dominique, 1 barred rock, and 1 white rock. So only 1 sex-link. Not sure if the others are medium maturing or slow or what.

    I buy organic feed and I'm not sure how it comes, pellet or othewise. So I just take what they have. [​IMG]
     
  6. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    I'd wait 18-20 weeks then, Orpies and Australorps get big and take a while to get to full size, and generally come in to lay a lot later than sex-links.

    Basically, you want to hold off on layer feed until their structure reaches full size (they might not be filled out yet, but their bones have reached adult size).

    If your lone sex-link looks like she's coming into lay before 20 weeks (some do), you can always just give her some yogurt as a treat for extra calcium, and some peanuts or other snack for protein until everyone's ready to be on layer.

    If you're phasing in the new feed, you'll probably spend a week at that, using up the old feed ... that and another week one way or the other is not likely to make any difference, though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2009
  7. Gwen

    Gwen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Langley, Washington
    Okay, thanks. I was wondering if they were going to get bigger. They don't look nearly as big to me as other chickens I've seen. Glad to hear they aren't done growing. They'll need to get bigger to fend off our cat!
     
  8. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yep, they're larger breeds so if you buy another bag, just feed it to em, start to mix in layer at 18 weeks or so, but I understand about not wasting it. I fed a half and half, then more layer (2 to 1, then 3/4 etc) for some time past the 18 wk date, it's all fine. Mine actually started laying while still on the starter, so I couldn't eat them since it was medicated. It didn't bother me since I've had chickens for a longgggg time, but if it bothers you and you want to eat them, cut back sooner.

    Starter isn't all THAT expensive, but I still hated to waste it... so I wasted the eggs they layed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2009
  9. Gwen

    Gwen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Langley, Washington
    I don't believe my current organic grower feed is medicated. I wasn't even aware you can't eat eggs if the chickens are fed medicated feed. Makes perfect sense, I just never gave it any thought one way or another.
     
  10. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ahhh, missed the 'organic' part, no, it will NOT be medicated so you're all good!!!
     

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