What to feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Plinky, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. Plinky

    Plinky Chirping

    Mar 9, 2016
    Hello all,
    I have 4 hens which are almost 9 months old. Mixed flock: Leghorn, RIRed, Barred Rock, Brahma.
    The Brahma is blind and had a crisis (possibly due to being blind) a couple of months ago when she almost died. She has not started laying.
    The Leghorn lays a beautiful egg almost every day. and is in good health in spite of having had a possible lash egg episode a while back (picures elsewhere on forum).
    The RI Red lays almost everyday and looks to be in great shape - she had a period when she looked kind of scruffy and seemed to have lost weight, but now feathers all glossy and beautiful.
    The Barred Rock stopped laying about a month ago and seems to be molting. She is also very crabby (which I understand goes with the molt).
    At the moment I am feeding them all purina organic layer. The get greens and a modest amount of corn/mealworm/sunflower/pumpkin seeds to scratch for. Also turned out to free range a bit each day.
    With one molting and one still not laying (perhaps she never will) I'm wondering if they are all getting their nutritional needs met.
    What SHOULD I be feeding?

  2. FoodFreedomNow

    FoodFreedomNow Songster

    Your pullets' diet sounds pretty good to me, and they sound like they're doing well on it. Molting is protein-intensive, so if you wanted to bump up the protein, you could try (for example) feeding chick starter plus free choice oyster shell - chick starter usually runs around 21% protein vs around 16% for layer (you can buy higher-protein layer feed, but I used Scratch and Peck's organic layer as the example).

    Some people feed Nutrena Feather Fixer during the molt, and it's around 18% protein. I don't use it, so can't really expand on it. I'm not sure if it's available as organic or non-GMO, either. There are several threads addressing the feed, here's one: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/820282/naturewise-feather-fixer-pellet-anyone-using.

    Laying tends to slow in winter, so maybe your Brahma will surprise you come spring. BTW, I also had a BR once and she seemed crabby most of the time. [​IMG]
  3. Hi. [​IMG]

    I'm glad you asked!

    I have a mixed age and gender flock. I use Purina Flock Raiser which is 20% protein and 1% calcium with oyster shell on the side. Too much calcium as in layer feed (4%) for non layers can cause kidney issues in the long term. That is what is available to me. The important factor is more protein and less calcium.

    If organic is important to you, you can use a starter or grower non medicated feed as I haven't found any flock raiser that is organic. The higher protein will not hurt anybody and offer oyster shell on the side for the layers. And the extra protein will help feathers grow in faster. Feather Fixer is a gimmick and just what they call it because it has 2% more protein than their layer feed. The non layers may sample the OS but they won't over dose on it.

    Using either the flock raiser or a starter means you won't have to switch if you have chicks in the future.

    As far as what you are using for scratch, I would limit it to less than 10% of their total daily ration because those products further diminish your protein level. And corn digest hot, so it may be a good winter evening snack but avoided during hot weather. Pumpkin seeds are claimed to be a natural wormer. And most people prefer Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, sometimes called BOSS.

    Best wishes!
  4. Plinky

    Plinky Chirping

    Mar 9, 2016
    Thanks! My question was, in fact, if higher protein would negatively affect the layers. But what I'm understanding is that better higher protein and offering oyster shell on the side than the lower protein with calcium of the layer feed. Great!

  5. Some breeds actually require more protein to produce eggs consistently and be healthy. So it might actually help them! The 16% is OK for some light breeds.

    As long as you aren't going like 30% protein, you should be good. [​IMG]

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