What's the earliest I can feed layer?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by gale65, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. gale65

    gale65 Songster

    Our starter is getting low (about 1/3 of a 50 lb bag) and before we switch all the way to layer, I want to mix some. So I need to save some to mix. Our chicks are 14 weeks old and I am estimating that I'll need to save some out to mix by a week from now (or so). Is 15 weeks to early to feed layer?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    To me it is. There are plenty of studies out there that show feeding the levels of calcium in Layer to young chicks is dangerous. Chick mortality is higher and when they cut open the ones that don't die, several livers and kidneys are damaged. Not necessarily all of them, but a lot of them. And several have bone damage.

    One huge problem I have with this though is that these studies always start off with day old chicks. I have not seen any studies where they start off with 8 week old chicks or 15 week old chicks. At some point they grow big enough that their bodies can pretty well handle the extra calcium. I don't know what that age is. All the recommendations I have seen is to not feed them Layer until they are 20 weeks or they start laying. I'm guessing that they really don't know exactly when it becomes safe, so they are going to err on the side of caution. But I don't know enough that I can recommend any different than what the authorities say.

    One way around this is to keep feeding Grower or Starter and offer oyster shell on the side when they start laying. That way you can feed all of the new bag even if they start laying before it is all gone and you don't take a chance of hurting them. Once they start laying you can start mixing the feed if you wish.
  3. EMaker

    EMaker Chirping

    Aug 19, 2011
    Yes, it is too early, for the reasons the previous poster noted. You can feed Starter until the pullets start to lay eggs. Or, you can transition over to Grower, but don't feed Layer until the pullets start laying. It just isn't good for them, at all.
  4. weebles&wobblesmom

    weebles&wobblesmom Chirping

    Mar 24, 2011
    I found my first egg today, just 1. My chicks are 18 and 19 weeks old. I also have ducks & too be honest, I'm not sure if it was a duck or chicken egg. I was told when they first start laying, the eggs are smaller than normal.

    Anyway, my question is (based on what I read above), since it was just 1 egg, should I wait to start them on layer or is it OK to start switching them now? I was also told NOT to switch them until they are 6 months old.

    I don't know if I can give Oster shell to my ducks, but I don't want to hurt my chickens either if they need to start getting more.

    Thank you
  5. pjknust

    pjknust Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    I have 7 , 3 mo old pullets, and 5, 3 yr old hens
    I was needing to buy another bag of feed, (which they dont eat much of because of eating bugs all day) so I called the vet, who also owns the feed store and he told me to just feed them all Layena crumbles.
    I didnt, because of what I have read on BYC.
    I bought another bag of chick starter/grower at the other chain feed store, (nutrena), but its nearly all tiny crumbs.
    I also feed plenty of scratch, which I just noticed that all the corn pieces have holes in them........ so Im thinking BUGS

    Just wish I could find a store with what I wanted to buy, and it be fresh, not buggy. Guess Im just going to have to go out of town and buy it until my pullets are laying.
    I never paid attention about bugs til I ordered that organic HandH and it was FULL of buggggggs
    then I noticed my starter/grower had bugs, so I added DE
    and now the corn.......

    pam in TX
  6. Your sig shows a dozen chickens? Right?

    If so, you'll easily go through another 50 pounder before they are 20 weeks and in full lay. I'd recommend elaxing on the switch thing. It well over-rated. [​IMG]
    They'll be eating layer soon enough. You've a whole month to go before they're really in full out lay. At first they just spit out these itty bitty eggs anyhow.
  7. Alethea

    Alethea Songster

    May 23, 2011
    I'd wait until at least sixteen weeks/four months. Too much calcium too early can cause bone deformities.
  8. tclegg

    tclegg Chirping

    May 15, 2011
    I think your fine---basically they say about 16 weeks--so I think you are fine..I have found that has been about true. There has not been a true set rule. You should be fine..I mean we all have a few girls--give or take a few---But start layer now and also oyster shell on own self--they should be fine...
  9. gale65

    gale65 Songster

    thanks everyone. Yes we have 12. I have read that sometimes sex links will lay as early as 17 weeks so that's why I wasn't so sure about using up a whole bag. In addition to the feed they get grass and kitchen scraps and a little bit of scratch. I wish I'd paid attention to when we got the last bag of feed. I think I'll call tomorrow and find out (dh puts them on his farm account so they would have the date). The main reason for the mixing was because I've read on here a few times about how chicks don't want to eat a new feed. I figured mixing it would help with that.

    eta: the other option would be to get one bag of multi-flock and add a feeder of oyster shell on the side when they hit laying age...
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  10. cheapsk8

    cheapsk8 In the Brooder

    Sep 7, 2011
    Hillsville VA.
    Switched mine at four and a half months eggs came a month later and am now at an egg a day per hen

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