Time for a New Bag of Feed - 6 year old hens and 16 week old hens


11 Years
May 2, 2012
It's almost time to get another bag of feed, if the young ones can't have layer yet.

I've got five 16 week chicks and three old hens. When I combined the oldies with the littles, I took away the layer feed and was just feeding the starter feed. ( I have one bag of layer and some extra waiting until I can give it to them again). I'd had oyster shell on the side. Only one hen is laying and she just took a week or two off, after taking most of the winter off as well. She just started laying the last two days. I'd removed the oyster shell to refill it and forgot to return it, and so she was out of it for a couple days and then started laying.

The littles haven't started laying, I don't expect them to start for another month. Is it too early to switch to the layer feed in a week or two when this starter feed runs out? I've read different things about when they should start getting the layer feed, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, or after you see an egg.

Another thing, they're eating crumble, lots of that is or becomes powder rather than crumble. It seems like much of that is wasted. Is there any way to recover this and make it crumble again? They spill a lot of it and I've basically been just dumping this out so that the crumbles will be available. (I have a gravity feeder with the little dividers.) I did just start putting a container under the hanging feeder and that's been catching a lot of the powder.

Also, is there any kind of a chart for average time for first egg by breed? I've got an Americana, a lavender orpington, a partridge rock, a french black copper marans and one who was supposed to be a blue rock, but looks a lot like the marans or a black australorp.
OK, lots of questions.

FIrst, with mixed age and mixed gender flocks, the overwhelming concensus of BYC posters (which I share, and can back with numerous studies) is to use an All Flock/Flock Raiser type feed, with free choice oyster shell on the side. Its just so damned convenient, particularly with the typical backyard flock and goals

The biggest problem of crumble is waste - that's why people pay more for pellets, though pellets aren't an option for hatchlings. Easiest, low cost fix? Feed the crumble as a wet mash, oatmeal-like consistency. Will also help, ever so little, with the current heat issues. Not as practical if your winters drop into the real negatives. My humidity is so high the crumble will clump in bulk gravity feeders, i put the oatmeal-like mash in 5" plastic gutters.

As to charts??? There's some disagreement out there, but I find these to be handy references.

Breed Conservancy
Livestock Conservancy (.pdf)

Those should get you started.

and remember, chickens aren't robots - start of lay is influenced by breed and daylight, but there's a lot of indivudual variation. They start when they start. I tend to think of them as "strong suggestions" with a broad range of possibilities, not something to set a calendar by. Typicall,y I'll offer a four week range if asked about a particular breed I have experience with.
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