When and how to feed layer ration (first timer!)

smoon

Chirping
Apr 27, 2016
105
2
71
I have a mixed flock of 5 barred rocks, 5 Easter eggers, and 7 silkies. All hens. They are ALL 20 weeks old, and everyone but the silkies looks big and beautiful, you can tell they are maturing and will be laying soon. But my Silkies are tiny little things and I have a feeling they are no where close. Everyone is still on grower feed until a see an egg.

My question is: once one hen lays, should "everyone" be forced to eat the layer pellets? Will it hurt my silkies since they are so tiny and seemingly far from laying? Should I offer both types of food?

Thanks for the help in advance!
 

BackyardFlock17

Chirping
Jul 7, 2016
74
6
53
I started giving my hens layer feed after all of them started laying. To get them used o it, I layered their old grower/finisher crumble and layer pellets. Now I offer them a feeder of each untill the crumble runs out. Switching the feed shouldn't hurt the chickens unless you do it too suddenly. It will help when all the hens start laying.
 

DanEP

Songster
10 Years
May 15, 2010
1,026
142
226
Cadiz Ky
Don't get in a rush they can go their entire lives on grower with a little oyster shell on the side. the extra protein won't hurt them a bit and will help their feathers stay in good shape. My older girls are about 30 months and I still give them a mixture of layer and grower and will be switching to all grower for their molt. The extra protein helps to regrow feathers.
 

aldarita

Songster
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Aug 2, 2012
644
204
211
Brenham TX
Don't get in a rush they can go their entire lives on grower with a little oyster shell on the side. the extra protein won't hurt them a bit and will help their feathers stay in good shape. My older girls are about 30 months and I still give them a mixture of layer and grower and will be switching to all grower for their molt. The extra protein helps to regrow feathers.
X2
I have chicks that just turned 16 weeks old today. They are in a yard sharing a coop and run with 2 hens (14 months old) they have been eating starter/grower, I keep a dish of oyster shells for them. I am starting to mix nutrena feather fixer which is 18% protein feed with the starter/grower feed (2/3 started grower and 1/3 feather fixer). I'm in no rush to completely switch them to feather fixer since I just bought a big bag of starter/grower. The chicks are going thru a juvenile molt and the hens are just beginning to molt so I will be increasing the feather fixer little by little until I finish the starter/grower bag.
 

aldarita

Songster
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Aug 2, 2012
644
204
211
Brenham TX
Don't get in a rush they can go their entire lives on grower with a little oyster shell on the side. the extra protein won't hurt them a bit and will help their feathers stay in good shape. My older girls are about 30 months and I still give them a mixture of layer and grower and will be switching to all grower for their molt. The extra protein helps to regrow feathers.
X2
I have chicks that just turned 16 weeks old today. They are in a yard sharing a coop and run with 2 hens (14 months old) they have been eating starter/grower, I keep a dish of oyster shells for them. I am starting to mix nutrena feather fixer which is 18% protein feed with the starter/grower feed (2/3 started grower and 1/3 feather fixer). I'm in no rush to completely switch them to feather fixer since I just bought a big bag of starter/grower. The chicks are going thru a juvenile molt and the hens are just beginning to molt so I will be increasing the feather fixer little by little until I finish the starter/grower bag.
 

jpalmatier83

Chirping
Jul 15, 2016
152
16
91
Traverse City, MI
Agreed. All my research and personal experience has indicated excess protein isn't nearly as bad for layers as excess calcium is for non-layers.

I would say keep on with the grower and add calcium (oyster shell) at liberty. Maybe mix in a little fat ( corn or scratch) until they're all laying. Maybe just forever.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,950
125,471
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.
 

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