Transitioning to a new feed, I need your input.


Jul 17, 2009
Saint Petersburg, FL
I need to go to the feed store in the next few days here to get some more feed for my chickens. But I don't know what to buy. A little background on my flock:

Everybody right now is on PurinaMills Start & Grow (its in crumble form), and I provide crushed oyster shell free choice.

-I have 12 chickens total. 6 of them were raised by me from day olds and are now about 13-15 weeks old. 4 other ones (ranging from 5mo-1yr) are laying now (well one is in a molt actually), and 2 of them, my Ameraucanas (5mo), should be laying any day now.

As stated, everyone right now is on Start & Grow which is 18% protein. They also get a good helping of Purina Scratch Grains each day, as well as lots of veggies, greens, fruits, scraps, and whatever bugs, etc they catch during the day while they free range. I provide crushed oyster free choice, and I only ever see one of my laying hens eat it. She has really strong shells. But the other ones that are laying seem to have just fine shells. They are stronger than store bought ones, but not as strong as the one that eats the oyster shell all the time. Also, I know some of my young chickens are cockerels.

What should I buy at the feed store?

My feed store stocks PurinaMills products mainly. I am thinking maybe I should transition them to the FlockRaiser blend mixed with Start & Grow. Should they stay on Start & Grow? They seem to like it. What do you all think?

Here is a link to the PurinaMills products I have to choose from:
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I move layers over to Purina Layena at about 16 weeks or so. I usually start mixing it in with whatever grower I have left, and move to more Layena as the grower gets used up.

I use pellets as they waste less, but it can take them some time to get used to the pellets.

That and garden scraps and about 10%-15% scratch, plus letting them out to forage in the afternoons ... and oyster shell in a separate feeder.
I am aware that ideally I should have my layers on Layena but the thing is that I have this varied, mixed flock, of all ages & sexes. That's the problem.
They don't really waste too much, if any of the crumble. But seems like it takes a lot of effort for them to eat enough of it, so I am thinking pellets would be better. It just the conundrum of half of my flock laying, and half not.
The ones that are laying and the ones who are about to can all be on Layena as soon as the "about to" get to about 16 weeks. I would just stick with what you've been doing for a few more weeks, and then the 13-15 week olds will be there. You don't have to wait until they lay to start layer ration ... it's better if you start it before they come in to lay, so that they have been getting the right nutrition.

The only question would be the cockerals. If they're all together, you can't really keep the cockerals out of the layer feed. I've never noticed any ill effects, but we've not kept any roos long-term.
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I foresee having to get rid of a few roos as soon as they start crowing. Now, if they happen to be the exception to the rule and are quiet & docile then they may stay. LOL. Here's to hoping right?!?! Anyone have any input on the ill effects of feeding layer pellets to cockerels/cocks?
The problem with feeding layer feed to any non laying chicken is they don't use the extra calcium so their body must get rid of it. When they are chicks and growing SO fast it can cause serious damage to their bodies as they try to filter it out.

Once they pass that stage of explosive growth they still need to get rid of it, but it isn't so hard on them. That's why non-layers and roosters can eat lay food without serious problems.

So the key is to wait until they're done growing before switching to layer feed, otherwise you can have serious health issues.

What you are feeding right now sound ideal. I know several people who only feed a general flock feed and leave out oyster shell for the layers.

I mix 50/50 Layer and Game bird feed because I have so many roosters and older hens.
Thank you for this valuable information. I think I am going to buy a bag of Start & Grow AND a bag of Flock Raiser this trip to the feed store, and mix it half & half. This way I can have a slow transition from crumble to pellets, I can avoid the extra calcium on the young'ins going through puberty, and then by the time this batch of food is all gone they will all be old enough to switch to purely layer feed. Does this sound like a good idea?

I have done so many searches and read so many postings you'd think I'd have this all figured out by now thanks to BYC, and perhaps I am being overly concerned (new chicken parent syndrome, lol), but after all they are just chickens. C-H-I-C-K-E-N-S. I think all my years working in the medical field, double checking my drugs & dosages before administering them to patients, making sure not to make any mistakes, has made me a little OCD about perfecting their feed.

So, I'll buy a bag of Start & Grow and a bag of Flock Raiser and mix them. Unless someone says otherwise. I'm going to the feed store tomorrow afternoon, so speak up of forever hold your peace. hehe
I asked for layer pellets at the local place; when I got home the label read 15% - is that too low protein? Five hens 8-9 months old, laying fine...some free range

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