What do you feed while your hens are molting/not laying?

capow21

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jan 27, 2012
55
2
41
I was just skipping through threads on here and came across the subject of feeding laying hens. The discussion got a little heated and I got kind of lost. A few people mentioned that feeding a layer pellet or layer crumble while they're molting or not laying isn't beneficial and that also feeding a layer while they're not laying can cause a calcium toxicity; I would like some more information on this.

I have nine hens and a Rooster, all the same age. They started laying in June/July and I was averaging 7-9 eggs a day. Now that I'm only getting about 2-3 a day I was wondering if there is a healthier diet I should be feeding them until they start laying more.

I'm currently feeding a 17% protein layer pellet, they free range a few hours a day, and I give them kitchen scraps and other treats occasionally. Today I'm going to pick up some BOSS for them and they also need a new bag of food, so just thought I would see what people's input was.
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
217
216
SE Pa.
I have a mixed age flock. I use a grower for the main feeders that the chicks can get to and a layer in the one the chicks can't, oyster shell in a side dish. Since yours are one age being first year birds they will continue to lay through the winter at the slower rate and will still need some calcium. Giving them other foods does cut the amount of calcium they are taking in. My guess is that they will be fine this year on the layer. Next year when they molt and stop would be the time to use a lower calcium feed. If you are worried for now. You could get the lower calcium feed now and have a calcium supplement for them on the side.
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
x2 I feed a grower with a separate calcium source all the time. I have a mixed age flock and a silkie who lays infrequently. I would rather my birds be able to regulate their own calcium. If I had a rooster I would especially want to do this because a layer feed will have WAY more calcium than a rooster would ever need.
 

Chris09

Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
10,999
594
328
Ohio
Layer feed can be very hard on non-laying fowl.
Chicks, Growing, Roosters and Hens not laying do to age, weather, molt or nutrition can get Calcium Toxicity if fed a feed that contains to much Calcium.
Most if not all non-laying fowl only needs 1 to 1.5 % Calcium in the diet, this amount of Calcium is usually in feeds like game bird, turkey, starter and grower feeds.

If one feeds a layer feed to non-laying fowl then there getting nearly twice the amount of Calcium they need and when chicken are feed a feed that is high in Calcium it can lead to kidney failure.


Chris
 

capow21

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jan 27, 2012
55
2
41
Thank you all for your responses. I bought the same layer pellets, because I went to the feed store before anyone had replied. So, next time I should look into something else. I checked the bag and this feed has 3.5% calcium. I do have a small dish with oyster shell free-choice, but not many use it and I think most of the hens are still laying some, just only a couple of days a week. I'm sure they still don't need the 3.5%.

You're right about the Rooster and he doesn't need all of the calcium.

Next question, is your grower labeled as grower feed only? I think when my flock were chicks the feed was a starter/grower for wild game, turkey, and pretty much all fowl. If that is the case and they do not carry a separate grower, what would be your next suggestion?
 

Chris09

Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
10,999
594
328
Ohio
Thank you all for your responses. I bought the same layer pellets, because I went to the feed store before anyone had replied. So, next time I should look into something else. I checked the bag and this feed has 3.5% calcium. I do have a small dish with oyster shell free-choice, but not many use it and I think most of the hens are still laying some, just only a couple of days a week. I'm sure they still don't need the 3.5%.

You're right about the Rooster and he doesn't need all of the calcium.

Next question, is your grower labeled as grower feed only? I think when my flock were chicks the feed was a starter/grower for wild game, turkey, and pretty much all fowl. If that is the case and they do not carry a separate grower, what would be your next suggestion?
Some feed mfg. have a Starter and a Grower others will have just a Starter/ Grower or a Conditioner.
I like to use Game Bird feed, I can get a Starter, Conditioner, Layer, and Maintenance.

Chris
 

Happy Chooks

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Jul 9, 2009
40,417
3,564
626
Northern CA
My Coop
My Coop
Chris, what do you think is the ideal animal protein percentage for general feed? I read mixed things.

I'd like to hear his opinion too.
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Chris09

Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
10,999
594
328
Ohio
The ideal percentage of animal protein will depend on the type of animal protein being used.
I believe that Fish Meal should be 10% or less, most other types I like to see about 15% or so.

If I'm looking at a feed tag I like to see Animal protein at the 6th ingredient or better.

Chris
 

The Hen

Chirping
7 Years
Aug 26, 2012
133
4
88
Leslie, Michigan "The Place To Be"
ok, so since my ladies are molting some and not laying i should be changing their feed? I buy our local feed mill's own that they make themselves. I have no clue on the %'s right now since the feed is kept in their coop. I know it does seem they have slowed down with eating and the other day I found Belle dead on the coop floor. No clue as to what happened besides seeing in the morning that she did not seem herself. Quiet, stayed in her nest box, wouldn't really move at all. I came home from work and she was dead.
hu.gif


Boy, this chicken stuff gets confusing and way too much sometimes
barnie.gif
. Very frustrated right now as to whether or not i am doing the right things for them. Molting-check, not laying-check, put a 60w bulb in-check, fresh warm water morning & night-check, feed/treats/mash-check, free oyster shell-check, clean coop-check. Am i covered???
 

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