Switching To Layer Feed..... When?


11 Years
Apr 13, 2011
Cape Cod
My Barred Rocks are currently 16 weeks old and I would assume they
should start laying in the next month or so (currently not laying). Right now
I feed them Nutrena "Chick Starter Grower" crumbles which is 18 % protein.
My question is at what point would I stop feeding this product and start them
on Layer Feed..... such as Nutrena Layer Feed, which is 16% protein?



10 Years
Aug 12, 2009
I started at 16-17 weeks old since I was adding them to the older birds. Figured they would need the extra calcium ifthey were getting ready to lay.


Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I agree totally with Fred. There is no benefit to starting them on Layer early. It will NOT start them laying earlier, no matter how many old wives you listen to tales from.

There are plenty of studies out there that prove the extra calcium in Layer can harm growing chicks. It can damage their bones or internal organs. These studies are usually done on chicks eating Layer from Day 1, so I do not know when is a safe time to switch to Layer. At 16 weeks, yours re still growing, but not all that much. And it is not one bite that will harm them, but a steady diet of Layer. You probably could switch at that age without doing much if any harm. At worst, you would probably just damage their kidneys or liver a little which would make them less able to resist other problems later in life. I seriously doubt you would see any bad results now. If they drop dead a year from now due to their damaged kidneys or liver finally giving out when they are stressed over something else, you will never connect that to them eating Layer early. At 16 weeks, it probably would not harm any of them at all. Probably.

I don't use that brand, but many bags of feed have a chart on them that shows when to switch. The standard is 20 weeks or when they start to lay. I suggest you keep feeding them as you are and get a bag of oyster shell. When you see the first egg, offer oyster shell on the side so the ones that need it will get it and the others won't. Then, when that bag of Starter/Grower runs out, switch to Layer.


12 Years
Apr 9, 2010
It was time for a new bag of feed yesterday. I have Barred Rocks roughly the same age. I believe Nutrena makes a Grower/Finisher for use between 15-20 weeks of age. So that's what I got. Of note: I purchase at Tractor Supply and 2 weeks ago they didn't have the grower/finisher feed, just starter/grower and layer.


9 Years
Aug 19, 2010
north central indiana
My Coop
My Coop
Ours are 15 weeks old today. We just bought some layer and mixed it with what was left of the starter. The people at the feed store told dh we shouldn't give starter past 6 weeks so he was ready to stop using it. I mentioned the multi flock but they insisted the layer is fine at 15 weeks so that's what he got. It was free this time (he picks up feed for this store since they don't order by the semi-load) but I don't know what it normally costs. Anyway that's what they're getting-hopefully it doesn't hurt them but I am not too worried.

eta: I do not believe that the layer feed will cause them to lay early. I've seen that mentioned before but it's basically the same feed w/ calcium and I doubt that the presence of calcium (which they get anyway from the yogurt treats I give them) will make them suddenly start laying at an earlier time than they naturally would.
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