Switch Feed if Chickens are not Laying?

shannix

In the Brooder
Sep 1, 2020
7
18
19
Good morning,

I have eight, twenty-six week old Faverolles and live in the Finger Lakes region of central New York state. The ladies have not yet laid any eggs and based on what I've read on this, and other forums, it is likely that they will not lay their first eggs until spring. They are all healthy, active and behaving normally. My question is, should I switch their feed back to grower feed? I switched to layer feed at 20 weeks in anticipation of future eggs and I want to make sure it is not detrimental to their health to keep them on layer feed. I presently feed them Lakeview Organic No-Soy Layer mash feed from a local feed provider. Thanks in advance for any and all insight.
 

DobieLover

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Finger Lakes region of central New York state
Near which finger? I like Cayuga and Seneca. Named two birds after them...
Never mind. You are near Penn Yan. I used to purchase grains at Lakeview. Great place.
I've never fed layer feed and never will.
I feed Flock Raiser with oyster shell on the side. It has better protein content and I don't ever have to worry about birds having to process excess calcium that their bodies do not require. It can cause eventual health issues with the roosters in particular because they NEVER need the extra calcium.
Any quality complete feed with 18-20% protein and 0.8-1.3% calcium works.
 
Last edited:

Kiki

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Good morning,

I have eight, twenty-six week old Faverolles and live in the Finger Lakes region of central New York state. The ladies have not yet laid any eggs and based on what I've read on this, and other forums, it is likely that they will not lay their first eggs until spring. They are all healthy, active and behaving normally. My question is, should I switch their feed back to grower feed? I switched to layer feed at 20 weeks in anticipation of future eggs and I want to make sure it is not detrimental to their health to keep them on layer feed. I presently feed them Lakeview Organic No-Soy Layer mash feed from a local feed provider. Thanks in advance for any and all insight.
Keep them on the layer feed. Starting them on the extra calcium before they lay is actually better than waiting until you see an egg. They probably will start laying before spring.
 

GC-Raptor

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5 Years
Jul 26, 2016
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I like to feed a Starter-Grower feed 18% till the first eggs from each breed, then mix with a Layer feed for a week or until the Starter-Grower is gone.
I do add a separate container of Oyster Shells at 15 weeks old.

Do you add lights to encourage laying during the winter season?
GC
 

shannix

In the Brooder
Sep 1, 2020
7
18
19
Near which finger? I like Cayuga and Seneca. Names to birds after them...
Never mind. You are near Penn Yan. I used to purchase grains at Lakeview. Great place.
I've never fed layer feed and never will.
I feed Flock Raiser with oyster shell on the side. It has better protein content and I don't ever have to worry about birds having to process excess calcium that their bodies do not require. It can cause eventual health issues with the roosters in particular because they NEVER need the extra calcium.
Any quality complete feed with 18-20% protein and 0.8-1.3% calcium works.
Thanks, Tonya! I was hoping you'd respond to this thread. You've helped me out several times already with your clear, detailed, no-nonsense advice and instructions. I'm a BIG fan, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to thank you for all you do for this community. Needless to say, I'll switch over to a grower feed with oyster shell once I've finished up this bag of layer feed.

I live in the Little Lakes region, near Hemlock Lake. My supplier for Lakeview is in Naples, so fortunately I don't have to trek to Penn Yan every time I need feed.

Shannon

P.S. - Love the Bill Murray quote.
 

shannix

In the Brooder
Sep 1, 2020
7
18
19
I like to feed a Starter-Grower feed 18% till the first eggs from each breed, then mix with a Layer feed for a week or until the Starter-Grower is gone.
I do add a separate container of Oyster Shells at 15 weeks old.

Do you add lights to encourage laying during the winter season?
GC
Hi, GC! No, I don't use lights during the winter. I like to operate under the premise, as natural as possible. Thanks for the advice on feed. I really appreciate it!
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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Jul 23, 2018
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My supplier for Lakeview is in Naples, so fortunately I don't have to trek to Penn Yan every time I need feed.
I'm all the way down in Apalachin and used to make the drive to Penn Yan 4 times a year for supplies. It's a gorgeous drive year-round and we made stops at the various waterfalls and some of the State parks along the way. Great fun! I plan to start back up next summer if I get a few of the larger projects done on the house in spring.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
Good morning,

The ladies have not yet laid any eggs and based on what I've read on this, and other forums, it is likely that they will not lay their first eggs until spring.
Don't be shocked if you do see a few eggs before spring. They don't always do what you expect. I've had pullets start to lay in early December during the shortest days of the year and I do not add any lights. You are further north so your days will be shorter than mine right now, but I think a safer way to say it is that not all of them will be laying until spring.

They are all healthy, active and behaving normally. My question is, should I switch their feed back to grower feed?
I'll address the Grower part first. Some Grower or Layer can come in a higher protein percent than others. I could not find the percent protein in your Lakeview feed. Most Grower or Layer come in 16% protein but I have seen some as high as 18%.

Some people feel that they need to feed a higher protein feed. I don't, I'm quite happy with a 16% feed. My chickens are healthy, active, and act normally. Besides, mine forage for part of their food and they get garden and kitchen wastes so I can't micromanage their feed anyway. There is nothing wrong with feeding a higher protein feed as long as you don't get ridiculous about it. Some studies have shown that if you get up to around 28% to 30% protein they can develop problems like avian gout. My main suggestion on protein is to be fairly consistent in what you feed them so they are used to that. If you want to go up a little it won't hurt them.

There are studies that show feeding growing chicks the amount of calcium in Layer as their sole food can be harmful. These studies are paid for by the commercial chicken industry, for both broilers and laying flocks. That's who has the money and the interest. These studies really don't apply to your situation. You don't butcher yours at 6 to 8 weeks of age. You don't have layers specifically bred to lay a lot and early and don't control when they start to lay, mainly by manipulating lights. These studies are where the recommendations on the bags of feed come from. I learn a lot from the various studies they do but I try to see if they really apply to me.

Several years back, someone (probably Bobbi or Canoe, can't remember who) shared a study where roosters were fed a diet that had the same amount of calcium as Layer. The commercial operations do have breeding flocks so they were interested. They found that mature roosters can develop medical issues on that high calcium diet. All of them didn't develop those problems. They cut them open to look at the internal organs so they could see what damage was done. They counted dead roosters but that wasn't the only criteria they used.

I think their is a correlation between roosters that don't lay eggs and pullets or hens that aren't currently laying eggs. Broody hens, molting hens, and pullets not yet laying all fall into the category of not actively laying. Since the commercial operations know when they are going to manipulate the lights to start their pullets laying they can preload them with calcium. We don't know when ours will start laying.

This is the type of stuff I base my opinions on. Since I almost always have growing chicks in the flock, let alone a rooster and occasionally broody hens and even occasionally molting hens, I never feed Layer. All the chickens get the same low calcium feed. If I have baby chicks in the flock the entire flock gets Starter with a higher protein content. About the time they hit a month old and that bag of feed runs out I switch back to Grower. I always offer oyster shell separately for the ones that need the calcium for their shells.

Hopefully you will get something useful out of all this. Good luck.
 
Jul 23, 2021
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382
111
Southern Idaho
Don't be shocked if you do see a few eggs before spring. They don't always do what you expect. I've had pullets start to lay in early December during the shortest days of the year and I do not add any lights. You are further north so your days will be shorter than mine right now, but I think a safer way to say it is that not all of them will be laying until spring.


I'll address the Grower part first. Some Grower or Layer can come in a higher protein percent than others. I could not find the percent protein in your Lakeview feed. Most Grower or Layer come in 16% protein but I have seen some as high as 18%.

Some people feel that they need to feed a higher protein feed. I don't, I'm quite happy with a 16% feed. My chickens are healthy, active, and act normally. Besides, mine forage for part of their food and they get garden and kitchen wastes so I can't micromanage their feed anyway. There is nothing wrong with feeding a higher protein feed as long as you don't get ridiculous about it. Some studies have shown that if you get up to around 28% to 30% protein they can develop problems like avian gout. My main suggestion on protein is to be fairly consistent in what you feed them so they are used to that. If you want to go up a little it won't hurt them.

There are studies that show feeding growing chicks the amount of calcium in Layer as their sole food can be harmful. These studies are paid for by the commercial chicken industry, for both broilers and laying flocks. That's who has the money and the interest. These studies really don't apply to your situation. You don't butcher yours at 6 to 8 weeks of age. You don't have layers specifically bred to lay a lot and early and don't control when they start to lay, mainly by manipulating lights. These studies are where the recommendations on the bags of feed come from. I learn a lot from the various studies they do but I try to see if they really apply to me.

Several years back, someone (probably Bobbi or Canoe, can't remember who) shared a study where roosters were fed a diet that had the same amount of calcium as Layer. The commercial operations do have breeding flocks so they were interested. They found that mature roosters can develop medical issues on that high calcium diet. All of them didn't develop those problems. They cut them open to look at the internal organs so they could see what damage was done. They counted dead roosters but that wasn't the only criteria they used.

I think their is a correlation between roosters that don't lay eggs and pullets or hens that aren't currently laying eggs. Broody hens, molting hens, and pullets not yet laying all fall into the category of not actively laying. Since the commercial operations know when they are going to manipulate the lights to start their pullets laying they can preload them with calcium. We don't know when ours will start laying.

This is the type of stuff I base my opinions on. Since I almost always have growing chicks in the flock, let alone a rooster and occasionally broody hens and even occasionally molting hens, I never feed Layer. All the chickens get the same low calcium feed. If I have baby chicks in the flock the entire flock gets Starter with a higher protein content. About the time they hit a month old and that bag of feed runs out I switch back to Grower. I always offer oyster shell separately for the ones that need the calcium for their shells.

Hopefully you will get something useful out of all this. Good luck.
I am glad to read this. My 27 weekers are not laying yet. I have toyed with the idea of layer feed because I am worried this is the reason. Then I have 2 16 weekers and 3 11 weekers. I have the whole flock on Purina Stater/grower feed with the flock roaming my yard. They are a healthy flock.
 

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