Switching Feed for Chicks

Awakening Forest

Premium Feather Member
Aug 14, 2020
North Central Florida
I've recently switched my flocks to Purina Flock Raiser. The only ones I didn't switch were the chicks in the brooders because I had Purina Medicated Starter /Grower on hand and didn't want to waste the bag. While reading for something else, I came across the recommendation not to switch chicks from starter/grower until they lay their first egg. I've routinely switched them off of starter / grower when they are fully feathered and off heat and haven't seen any adverse effects. Is there a reason for this, I'm not be aware of?


Feb 14, 2016
I know very little but this is what I know:
It can become very dangerous to the chicks leading to horrible deadly consequences down the road either farther down the road or soon.
Layer feed is high in calcium which is need for shell production but this can cause kidney and liver failure in chicks. Calcium can be toxic for chicks, they can overdose and die from too much calcium.
Starter/Grower feed has the protein chicks need and without that amount of protein the chicks could have growth problems, they can have a small maturity weight.


Oct 4, 2017
Lincolnton, NC
You do not have to wait until they lay their first egg.... 18 weeks is a good place to start. Switch slowly by combining their old food with the new food at first (just like when you switch a dogs food). Their bodies are getting to the point where they will need to extra calcium. I agree with the above poster about not feeding young chicks layer feed - but at 18 weeks they are ready, regardless of if they’ve laid their first egg or not.


Mar 30, 2020
Fredericksburg, VA
I just looked up that feed. The calcium is not too high for chicks. Protein is also where it should be. Purina gives conflicting instructions. EDIT - actually I just can't read:) They say it's ok for chicks.

Feed your backyard flock. Purina® Flock Raiser® Crumbles provide complete and balanced nutrition for healthy flocks and baby birds. Sustain an entire mixed flock of poultry, including starting and growing hens, roosters, ducks and geese Purina® Flock Raiser® Crumbles is also for turkeys, pheasants and quail 8 weeks of age and older.

Feed Purina® Flock Raiser® as the sole ration to chickens, ducks and geese from hatch until laying age (about 18-24 weeks; see number 3 below).
For turkeys, first feed Purina® Game Bird Chow® Startena® as the sole ration from hatch until 8-10 weeks old. Then feed them Purina® Flock Raiser® until laying age (about 30-32 weeks).
At 18-20 weeks of age, feed Purina® Layena® free-choice to laying chickens; ducks will begin laying at 20 to 24 weeks of age and geese will begin laying the spring after they are born.


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Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
Thank you. So the problem would be the calcium in the layer feed and the lower protein? If I'm feeding Flock Raiser, that shouldn't be a problem then? Correct?
I've never fed anything but FR to my birds,
it's good for the chicks, the cock, the molting hens....
....just provide a separate feeder with Oyster Shell for the active layers.

Awakening Forest

Premium Feather Member
Aug 14, 2020
North Central Florida
Thanks everyone. I've raised my beloved backyard hens for a long time following no plan in particular. They seem to eat anything and thrive, especially the bugs in horse and cow poop. They pull their weight in cleaning up the paddocks for me. :wootThis year I've left the eating egg sideline and gone to the birds... :weeliterally.... with rare breeds and I'm like a mother hen over here. Relearning everything.:jumpy

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