What feed is best for an elderly chicken?

Gingers-Mom

In the Brooder
Aug 18, 2019
7
12
24
Our Easter egger, Ginger, turned 10 this summer. For the most part, she has stopped laying. But the past 2 years she laid 2-3 eggs and each year she had problems where the shells were too thin or shell-less and broke inside her. We were able to nurse her through each of these episodes. We have always fed Ginger Natures Best organic layer diet. We also supplement with oyster shells for calcium.

Does anyone have experience with elderly chickens and should we be switching from the layer feed? I was afraid that the grower feed would be too much protein? How much protein should she have for her age? Should we continue with the oyster shells? After a beak injury a few years ago, we have found that Ginger does best with a pellet type feed. Looking for recommendations on what type of feed or if we should just continue feeding her the layer diet. Does the layer diet encourage her to continue laying, I would prefer if she no longer laid eggs, its been pretty tough on her when she does.
 

cavemanrich

Addict
7 Years
Apr 6, 2014
18,118
64,466
1,317
Melrose Park Illinois
I have a Senior hen, a RIR that is about 9 years now. I had my EE go for 11 years and my longest living chicken lived 13 years. All my chickens are pets, and do live long lives.
I feed my chickens Alflock, 2% calcium, and 18% protein. Oyster shells free-choice.
Its not organic, just standard plain feed. I also choose pellets over crumbles.
Layer feed which is at about 4% calcium, does not encourage laying. It is feed that contains all the essentials to producing eggs. It varies between 16% protein to about 18% protein. 16% is on the minimum, and many suppliers carry the minimum, because it is less expensive. Protein is a more expensive ingredient, so the producers try to minimize that to maximize their $$$$ return.
18% protein does allow you to offer scratch, treats, (as well as free-range picking of greens and Etc,) to your chickens, and still chickens have sufficient protein in their diet.
I don't have an answer to why your hen had the issues with soft shelled eggs, and problems laying the few she did in last 2 years. It is not from the feed that I see. There was sufficient calcium, to the point that it was too much. That is my reason for using Alflock. I have layers, and non-layers. The layers supplement their calcium needs with the oyster shells, or the natural greens they consume free-ranging.
Not sure on the particular calcium, and protein amounts of the grower feed you are considering. Generally if the protein is somewhat high, one of the resulting conditions, are runnier stools, and somewhat smellier.
Here is my EE that lived 11 years. In the last few years she also stopped laying.
0426151454-01.jpg

WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
 

hayley3

Crowing
14 Years
Aug 16, 2007
2,072
1,956
446
Southern Indiana
Mable Dec 2020.JPG


This is Mable she is 14. See how droopy her eyes are. She looks like an old lady.
(She's had that bump on her comb forever)
She's lived through a fox massacre and was in the jaws of a raccoon once.
I've always fed her layer crumbles with uncooked eggshells.
She stopped laying about 5 yrs ago. She'll lay an egg or two in the spring, her shells are thin and break easy but she manages to lay them.
 

Gingers-Mom

In the Brooder
Aug 18, 2019
7
12
24
I have a Senior hen, a RIR that is about 9 years now. I had my EE go for 11 years and my longest living chicken lived 13 years. All my chickens are pets, and do live long lives.
I feed my chickens Alflock, 2% calcium, and 18% protein. Oyster shells free-choice.
Its not organic, just standard plain feed. I also choose pellets over crumbles.
Layer feed which is at about 4% calcium, does not encourage laying. It is feed that contains all the essentials to producing eggs. It varies between 16% protein to about 18% protein. 16% is on the minimum, and many suppliers carry the minimum, because it is less expensive. Protein is a more expensive ingredient, so the producers try to minimize that to maximize their $$$$ return.
18% protein does allow you to offer scratch, treats, (as well as free-range picking of greens and Etc,) to your chickens, and still chickens have sufficient protein in their diet.
I don't have an answer to why your hen had the issues with soft shelled eggs, and problems laying the few she did in last 2 years. It is not from the feed that I see. There was sufficient calcium, to the point that it was too much. That is my reason for using Alflock. I have layers, and non-layers. The layers supplement their calcium needs with the oyster shells, or the natural greens they consume free-ranging.
Not sure on the particular calcium, and protein amounts of the grower feed you are considering. Generally if the protein is somewhat high, one of the resulting conditions, are runnier stools, and somewhat smellier.
Here is my EE that lived 11 years. In the last few years she also stopped laying.
View attachment 2447612
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 

Gingers-Mom

In the Brooder
Aug 18, 2019
7
12
24
Thank-you so much for the information! There is so much info on raising younger chickens but not much on the seniors. It looks like you are doing something right to have so many live to an old age. Ginger is a family pet and our first experience raising chickens. She is the only one left from our flock of 4. It looks like we may be giving her too much calcium. Thank-you again and all the best with your senior hen :)
 

Gingers-Mom

In the Brooder
Aug 18, 2019
7
12
24
View attachment 2448470

This is Mable she is 14. See how droopy her eyes are. She looks like an old lady.
(She's had that bump on her comb forever)
She's lived through a fox massacre and was in the jaws of a raccoon once.
I've always fed her layer crumbles with uncooked eggshells.
She stopped laying about 5 yrs ago. She'll lay an egg or two in the spring, her shells are thin and break easy but she manages to lay them.
 

Gingers-Mom

In the Brooder
Aug 18, 2019
7
12
24
It sounds like Mable is one tough girl. Ginger has put us through some scares. This has been our first experience raising chickens and they were mostly pets the eggs were just a bonus. We started with 4: a polish, buff, and 2 EE. Ginger is the only one left. A few years ago, we lost our last EE, Phoebe, to a hawk attack. We were adding an extension onto the run and a hawk found the only spot that we did not finish enclosing. Luckily we were home and heard the noise, but we were not able to save Phoebe. The hawk did not get Ginger, but Ginger scraped off the tip of her beak and injured the top of her beak and comb on the chickenwire when she was trying to escape. We hand fed her until her beak healed. The last 2 summers were really hard on her with the egg problems. It took her a while to recover each time where we thought we were going to lose her. That's why I was wondering if I should be changing her feed. We were adding the oyster shell to her feed - but are now keeping it in a seperate dish. Its really helpful to hear from others who have raised seniors. Thank-you for all the info and all the best to your Mable :)
 

RoosterML

Make Ameraucanas Great Again
Premium Feather Member
Nov 5, 2018
5,549
44,852
982
Tolland County Connecticut, USA
View attachment 2448470

This is Mable she is 14. See how droopy her eyes are. She looks like an old lady.
(She's had that bump on her comb forever)
She's lived through a fox massacre and was in the jaws of a raccoon once.
I've always fed her layer crumbles with uncooked eggshells.
She stopped laying about 5 yrs ago. She'll lay an egg or two in the spring, her shells are thin and break easy but she manages to lay them.
So much for people say that layer feed will kill your birds if not laying. :lau
 

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