What to feed if chicks have to go in the flock before they start laying?

tesncs

Chirping
7 Years
Jan 12, 2014
33
6
89
Sort of a long title, but that is my question. We have 4 chicks that are 10 weeks old. Currently, we have them separate in a small pen to themselves, but will need to put them in with our 7 older laying hens before the youngsters begin laying. The chicks are on starter/grower crumbles and the laying hens are on egg-layer pellets. However, from what we've read here, we should not feed the chicks egg-layer pellets until they are at least 22 weeks. So, how do we handle this when we put the youngsters in with the rest of the flock? Where we live there does not appear to be anything that we can feed both groups for this "in between" stage.
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,041
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
Simple solution for any mixed flock (actively laying birds and birds not actively laying due to age, gender, molt, broodiness, etc) is to feed everyone grower ration (I use Flock Raiser) and offer oyster shell on the side to be taken, as needed, by those birds who are actively producing and shelling eggs.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
23,374
33,506
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Colorado Rockies
Yes, it's totally that easy! And hens seem to love the taste of Flock Raiser over that of layer mash. After that first time merging chicks with laying hens, I discovered the hens were wild about Flock Raiser and I never went back to layer feed. It sure makes it much easier when you have a mixed-age flock every couple of years like I do.

Oyster shell available at all times so everyone who needs the extra calcium gets it.
 

seanb

Songster
8 Years
May 24, 2011
122
28
101
Central PA
This kind of answers the question I've been looking for an answer to. We've got 8 and 10 week olds that will be joining the general population very soon. The only reason they're not in the coop yet is because they're Buffs and Astralorps so I wanted to hold off as long as possible since those breeds have a tendency to get picked on by others. Was wondering how old they should be before being fed layer mash. 22 weeks? Really?

I may try the flock raiser and supplement with oyster shell to see how that works.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,290
20,144
907
Southeast Louisiana
There is no magic age when chickens can go on Layer feed. You are dealing with living animals. There just aren’t a whole lot of magic numbers involved for anything. Some pullets start laying at 16 weeks, some won’t lay for several months past that age. When pullets or hens are laying eggs, they need the excess calcium regardless of their age. If they are not laying, they don’t need it. All chickens need a little calcium for body maintenance and operation, but they don’t need the large amounts unless they are laying eggs.

That 22 weeks number probably comes from a commercial flock of special hybrid pullets that pretty much all start to lay at that time. The commercial operations micro-manage everything with lights, feed, and genetics to get practically all their commercial hybrids laying at about the same time. We don’t do that. You’ll be a lot better off watching your chickens and letting them tell you when they need extra calcium for egg laying than just taking some number that works in different circumstances and applying it to yours. I’ve yet to see a chicken that can read a calendar and get it right.

I feed Grower with oyster shell on the side since I practically always have under-aged chickens in my flock. It works great.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
23,374
33,506
1,122
Colorado Rockies
Just feed the all flock ration and forget the layer feed until after they begin to lay eggs. Or just forget the layer feed all together. As long as they get the oyster shell after beginning to lay, they are getting all they need. And the all flock feed (Flock Raiser) has more protein than layer feed, so that's a bonus.
 

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