What to feed now that they're bigger?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SkyWarrior, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Okay, I've been looking this up and feel a bit confused, so I need folks to enlighten me. I currently have chicks ranging from 6 weeks to 15 or 16 weeks. They've been on chick starter and are doing fine. But I keep thinking they need to go off the chick food and onto an intermediate food before they start laying.

    I've looked at the feed store offerings and they have either Start and Grow (Purina) or Chick Starter/Grower (Nutrina). The other food available are either for layers or for meat birds. There is a food called flock feeder (Purina) that is basically the same as Meat Bird feeder from Nutrina.

    So, do I keep the chicks on chick starter/grower until they lay? [​IMG] Should I switch to Flock Feeder? I've been told to wait until 22 weeks or the first egg to switch to layer food. What would you suggest?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Depending on how detailed you want to get, these are two pretty good sites on feeding chickens. If you are trying to develop a laying flock, the Oregon State site is probably what you need.

    Oregon State - Feeding Chickens
    http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/pnw/pnw477/#anchor1132074

    Alabama - Feeding Chickens
    http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1317/

    Sounds like you have the same situation as me. My TSC does not sell starter and grower separately but sells the combined Starter/Grower. The normal progression is Starter until they are about six weeks old, switch to Grower until they are about 20 weeks old or you see the first egg, then switch to Layer. In your case (which I am), I'd feed the combined Starter/Grower until they are about 20 weeks old, then switch to Layer. Don't feed the Layer to young growing chicks since it has enough extra calcium in it that can harm a growing chick's liver. At the recommendation of the extension services, I do not feed the growing chicks the extra high protein feed that is for meat birds. A chicken that is going to be a laying chicken needs the time for her internal organs and laying equipment to mature before she starts laying, otherwise she can injure herself trying to lay or damage her egg laying factory where she never quite gets it right.

    Good luck!
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    No seperate starter and grower available here either. I just fed the combination starter/grower until my pullets laid their first eggs at 19 weeks. They're brahmas, so I thought I had a few more weeks to go, but they surprised me.
    Every once in awhile the idiot manager at the feed store will try to sell me gamebird feed, telling me that they are all the same. Shows what he knows! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  4. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Thanks for the answer! I'm looking to see if there are directions for withdrawal since the food is medicated. My tough part will be how to switch the chicks over since I will have some that will lay before the others. [​IMG]

    Any suggestions there?
     
  5. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jacksonville
    You could try feeding all of them the grower and seperate the younger chicks and offer the medicated if you want. I would use up the medicated first. My girls did not start laying until long after 20 weeks. The higher protein in the grower is good for all of them. And the medicated is not going to hurt them until they start laying which depending on the breed may take a while - my SLW and GLW were around 34 weeks before the first egg. If I were you I would not waste the money and use up what I had and purchase the other as I needed more food. You can offer oyster shell seperately too.

    Hope that helps
    Caroline
     
  6. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    game bird feed is higher protein but it make their poop really smelly and strong.
    Caroline
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The bit below is an exerpt from the Oregon State site. Note that it is not desirable to feed chicks destined to be layers a high protein diet. The recommendation is to feed chicks that will become a laying flock lower protein diets, not the supercharged high protein diets.

    http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/pnw/pnw477/#anchor1132074

    Starter feeds
    Feed newly hatched chicks a starter diet until they are about 6 weeks old. Starter diets are formulated to give proper nutrition to fast growing baby chickens. These feeds usually contain between 18 and 20 percent protein.

    It is not necessary to feed "meat bird starter" to young layer chickens. Diets formulated for starting meat chickens are higher in protein (22 percent) to maximize growth, which is not necessary or desirable for egg laying chickens and is higher in cost.

    Grower and developer feeds
    Once the birds reach about 6 weeks of age, substitute a grower feed for the starter. Grower feeds are about 15 or 16 percent protein and are formulated to sustain good growth to maturity.

    After about 14 weeks of age, you can substitute the grower feed with developer feeds if they are available. These feeds are lower in protein than grower feeds (14 to 15 percent) and are formulated to prepare young chickens for egg production. Note: These two feed types are virtually interchangeable; either one can be fed to chickens between 6 weeks of age and the beginning of egg production.
     
  8. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Okay, so when I go to the feed store tomorrow (since I'm out of Start and Grow), I'm going to look for grower, but I have my doubts that the feed stores have it. Still, I'll check the feed store I know has various feeds and maybe they'll be able to give me better choices.

    Right now my chicks are healthy and happy. I'm thinking of giving some time in the outside run and if they eat some of the meatbird feed, that's okay, provided that it isn't what they get constantly.
     
  9. Mervin

    Mervin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could feed them the flock feeder as it's probably higher in protein and put out oyster shells free choice for those that are coming into lay. That's they way I'm moving now.
     
  10. acid_chipmunk

    acid_chipmunk Polish Silkies d'Uccles O my!

    Mar 29, 2010
    While I am sure those people know what they are talking about by saying layers should be fed a lower protein diet, this may not work for your birds. Layer feed didn't work for my layers because it wasn't high enough in protein. They started picking feathers (yes they have enough room in their coop). Once I switched them to Flock Raiser, the picking stopped and their feathers are actually shinier now. I have free choice oyster shell on the side for them. All of my birds, but the babies, are one FR now. I have not noticed a stronger smelling poop or any change for that matter, other than they seem happier and they look prettier.

    There is no grower available here, either, which is why everyone is on FR.
     

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