What to feed a mixed age flock?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Tendu, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. Tendu

    Tendu Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 8, 2009
    Hi, I've been thinking about raising chickens for awhile now, and I'm one of those people who like to research something thoroughly before I start. So this is something that I'm not going to have to worry about for awhile, but I'd like to know in case I need to take this into consideration when building my coop.

    So from what I've learned so far I know that the chicks I buy will need to be eat a medicated starter feed. After that they are switched to a high protein grower feed, and then to a slightly lower protein and higher calcium layer feed after about 18 months. This seems simple enough, but I'm thinking that I may like to have some hens hatch their own eggs (I'm thinking about getting a broody breed). After the eggs are hatched in the brooder both the non-egg laying mother and chicks can have starter feed, but after they get old enough I would like to reintroduce them to the flock since I'm planning on free ranging my chickens. When I do they will still be below the 18 month requirement to eat the layer feed.

    So what should I do? If I just have the (more expensive) flock feed that they sell at TSC can I put out oyster shells on the side without the younger birds eating them and getting too much calcium? Or will the fact that the egg layers are free ranging in (what I hope to be) a large area give them enough nutrients on their own so that their eggs are not going to suffer? If I put starter feed crumbles in a place where only the chicks can reach (such as in a box with a small hole) will they be more likely to eat that than to eat a lot of the pelleted layer feed? Or are they going to eat what mamma eats?
     
  2. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    I feed 22% gamebird to everybody and have oystershell available free choice for the hens that are laying.

    I don't have any chicks on the ground and haven't had a broody raise any yet, though that is in the works for next spring. I'm planning on having broody and chicks in a run next to the main flock (see but not touch) for the first two weeks so I'll be able to feed medicated starter initially. After that I'll watch closely and if there are any signs of cocci they'll get Corid. I want broody and chicks seperate mostly because while my cats are fine around the big chickens I'm not sure if chicks would be safe.
     
  3. Tendu

    Tendu Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 8, 2009
    I've read in other posts that many use gamebird feed, but I haven't seen any explain why. Is the higher protein content good for the birds? Also, does only your laying hens eat the oystershell?
     
  4. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    I feed nothing but Purina Flock Raiser from chick to layers. It's 20%protien. I feed it to chickens, quail, and guineas. I have big healthy birds with no problems. I do start my chicks out on 1 bag of medicated Purnia Sunfresh chick food. Gamebirds get 1 bag of gamebird starter. I do this just to give them an extra boost. But by the time the chicks are ready to go in with the bigger birds they have been on Flock Raiser for a couple of months.
     
  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Quote:Yes it's because of the higher protien. In my case I have several 18 month old hens that are going thru a hard molt, 1/2 dozen young roos that are destined for freezer camp, and another 1/2 dozen or so pullets that are close, but haven't started laying yet in addition to the dozen or so actively laying hens/pullets. The higher protien helps the feathers come in faster for the older birds, puts a bit more weight on the roos, and gives the pullets the extra they need to finish maturing and start laying. The hens/pullets that are laying seem to know how much extra calcium they need and use the oyster shell accordingly. I have seen the roos peck at it once in awhile, but I think they're just checking to see if it's some new treat--they don't ever actually eat it.

    It is more expensive, but I know everybody is getting what they need and don't have to deal with the logistical nightmare it would be for me to keep all the groups seperate.
     
  6. Tendu

    Tendu Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 8, 2009
    Thanks to both of you. I was starting to worry about having to separate my coop and run by age in order to keep things straight. When I'm ready to buy I'll check out what my feed stores have in stock and decide between gamebird and flock feeder then. Depending on how things are going I might just go for cheapest or if I'll base my decision on if I'm going to be raising any waterfowl and guinea hens.
     

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