Start layer feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by GatorBunny, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. GatorBunny

    GatorBunny Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 5, 2012
    My chickens are 15 weeks old, and I am running out of chick feed this week. I want to get another 50 pound bag to save the trip to the store. Can they switch to layer feed at this point or should I buy another 50 pound bag of chick feed?

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That question is a lot harder for me than it should be, but there is an easy solution. The solution is get another bag of whatever you are feeding them and offer oyster shell on the side. Other than protein level, the only significant difference is probably the percent calcium. The oyster shell will solve the calcium problem. I don't see a huge problem with protein levels, as long as you don't get carried away.

    If you are interested, I'll tell you whyt that is a harder question than it should be. There are plenty of studies out there where they clearly prove that feeding Layer to growing chicks can cause problems. There is a difference in "can" and "will", but they cut the chicks open to see what that extra calcium does to their internal organs. They also count how many chicks actually die. There is no question that feeding Layer is bad for very young chicks.

    The problem is that those studies all start feeding Layer at hatch. I'm not aware of any relevent studies about starting Layer at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, any of that. I don't know at what age the extra calcium ceases to be a problem. There is also the issue that the percent calcium is not really that important if they eat a lot of stuff that is not Layer. The problem is in how much total calcium they eat in a day. And it is not even a day problem. One bite won't kill them. It's how much total calcium they eat over time. To me the answer is not really clear cut.

    I think yours would probably be OK switching to Layer at 15 weeks. I think, but I don't know. And with such an easy solution, offering oyster shell on the side, why take chances?
  3. HouseCat

    HouseCat Chillin' With My Peeps

    I fully agree with Ridgerunner. Just grab a bag of oyster shell and another bag of starter/flockraiser/anything-but-layer.
  4. TurtlePowerTrav

    TurtlePowerTrav T.K.'s Farm

    Jul 29, 2012
    Oregon City, OR
    My Coop
    I am only going to feed the starter/grower feed and not layer. 2 of my pullets just started laying this week. I am offering oyster shell free will and I have some flock blocks. I have a cockerel and don't want him to get to much calcium from feed. I am also integrating new birds about every 6 months. I just got 2 EE's and a golden sex-link today, 2 days old. So stinking cute.
  5. Puddin Fluff

    Puddin Fluff Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 30, 2012
    River Valley, AR
    What do you feed if you have layers and roosters? This is my first go with cockrels and I am getting mixed info. on what to feed the flock. Currently I have both layer pellets and flight developer available free choice to all as I have hens, non-laying pullets and cockrels. Also have oyster shell on the side and we feed back egg shells.

    Thoughts on what layer feed will do to the boys?
  6. TurtlePowerTrav

    TurtlePowerTrav T.K.'s Farm

    Jul 29, 2012
    Oregon City, OR
    My Coop
    I have read that roos do ok on layer feed. I just don't want to force him to take in more calcium than he needs. I feed mine the Purina Non-Medicated Starter feed from Wilco Farm Stores. The oyster shell is in a 1qt feeder for them when they need it.
  7. TurtlePowerTrav

    TurtlePowerTrav T.K.'s Farm

    Jul 29, 2012
    Oregon City, OR
    My Coop
    It is a 16% feed
  8. MarineCorpFarmr

    MarineCorpFarmr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2012
    AL/TN Stateline
    My Coop
    Our layer feed is a blend of 22% pellets, flax seed, millet, catfish food, sweetlix minterals, oystershells, corn, and prolly bout 5 other things i cant think of off the top of my head, but we give it to every bird we have.its prolly about 30% protein and we have no ill effects. turkeys chikens ducks all have free access to it. Im even raising chicks on it now same exact mix just a finer grind.
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    As of now,
    I am feeding breeding pens a mix of Game Bird Starter, 2 types of Floating Fish Pellet and a 5 grain scratch.
    The above mix is right around 25% protein and I just offer a Calcium Mix on the side.

    If all you have is a few layers and a rooster you could just feed a "all flock" feed.

  10. HouseCat

    HouseCat Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have almost as many roosters as I do hens. If calcium-enriched feed is hard on the hens organs, I assume it would be even harder on the boys as they don't expell it from their bodies like the girls do. My chickens get an all-flock blend year round until they molt. Then I switch to Gamebird feed. It's a little more expensive but I think the added protein and nutrients make it a little easier on their bodies to replace their feathers as well as coming in brighter, more colorful, and less brittle as the year goes on. I got the idea from reading up on raising gamefowl. If it's good enough for a $250 American Game Rooster, it should work for my little flock. has some great free books on raising gamefowl/gamecocks published in the mid 1800s to early 1900s. They have quite a bit of information that I think may have been forgotten over the years.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by