when and what age to switch from starter feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by chickens12, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. chickens12

    chickens12 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2012
    at what age should i stop feeding them starter grower feed ? and what sould i switch to after that? thanks for all the help!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    This may sound complicated but it is not. You have a lot of options. This is for chicks that will become layers. If you are raising them for meat, it can be different.

    Other than the calcium Layer the main difference in feed is the percent protein. Different brands will vary a bit in name and percent, but the usual options are something like:

    Starter - 22% to 24%
    Grower - 16%
    Developer/Finisher - 15%
    Combined Starter/Grower - 20%
    Flock Raiser - 20%
    Layer - 16% plus extra calcium

    For a flock that will become laying chickens, the general idea is to give them a higher protein feed to start, but once they have feathered out and gotten that good start, reduce the protein a bit so their skeleton and internal organs have a chance to mature in pace with their body weight and size. But it is not a real precise science for us. You have quite a bit of latitude in what you do. Commercial chicken operations are pretty specific about what they feed and when, but they are raising chickens specially bred for their commercial operations and are raising thousands of chicks at a time. From a cost standpoint, they have to be really efficient in how they feed their chicks so they can stay competitive. Don't get too hung up on trying to do what the professionals do. We are in a different situation.

    A normal progression is to feed Starter for 4 to 8 weeks. When your bag of Starter runs out after 4 weeks, switch to Grower. When they start to lay or hit 20 weeks, you can switch to Layer. Another standard option is to switch to the 15% Developer/Finisher at 13 weeks to slow their development a bit more.

    Don't give Layer to growing chicks because the extra calcium can harm growing chicks.

    A lot of us don't have this option due to what we can find at the feed store. You can feed them the 20% Starter/Grower or 20% Flock Raiser from day 1 until you switch to Layer. It really works fine.

    Some people feed the higher percentage Starter until they switch to Layer. I personally don't like to do that but prefer to let them grow up and mature a bit slower.

    Some people feed them Starter for 4 to 8 weeks and them switch to 20% flock Raiser. Flock Raiser is intended for a flock where some will become laying chickens and some will become meat, but it really works for a pure laying flock too.

    You can start them off with Grower and they will do OK. They will grow slower but they will live and grow. Dad used to feed nothing but corn meal for the first three weeks and they lived and grew. You really do have a lot of latitude in what you do, but I don't recommend corn meal like that. I do want to feed them a balanced diet.

    Just about anything works except feeding Layer to growing chicks. You really don't have to be that precise with it. But depending in what is available to you, I recommend switching to Grower or Flock Raiser or Starter/Grower after the bag of Starter runs out after 4 weeks.

    Good luck!!
    1 person likes this.
  3. Chicky Mama

    Chicky Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Mountains of N.E. CA
    It's been a few years since I've raised chickens & got them mid may. I wondered if you could tell me at what age their gizzards are developed enoungh to start scratch & other things as a treat? Thanx for the above info just what I was also looking for.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    There is no need to rush such things, but after they are out of the brooder, they will either pick and peck at sand and pebbles outdoors or peck at the grit you provide in a side dish. Either way, they do indeed need grit, tiny gravel, sand, etc to use as an agent to crush up and grind up food.
  5. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    I give my chicks a clump of dirt with a dandelion attached (plenty of that in my yard!) the first week in the brooder. They learn to peck the ground and not each other - it really reduces pecking later on. Also, chicks get bored in the brooder, and this gives them something to do, again reducing pecking each other. And, it gives them a bit of grit and a small exposure to the germs in my area. Chicks raised by a hen all start pecking at the ground the first week, so giving dirt right away is natural and good for them. I live in New England - lots of granite in the soil, so it has plenty of natural grit. I do keep the brooder very clean and remove the clods and put fresh ones in, along with cleaning up the poops.
    I have a FAQ about feeding here: http://hencam.com/faq/what-to-feed-your-chickens/
  6. humphrey farms

    humphrey farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2012
    Naples Maine
    Just found this post and am so glad I did! The feed store had me put my 9 wk old mixed layer flock on "Layer" and "Scratch" grains. I thought they needed grower but they said no. Poor things. I dont want to hurt them by not feeding correctly. [​IMG]
  7. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  8. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    They do need the grower or starter. No layer food till they're laying.

    A simple answer to the original question: You can feed starter until they begin to lay. Many switch to grower once they are 6-8 weeks old.
  9. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 2, 2011
    Terry, I read this on your website the other day, am a complete newcomer, and was wondering if I could give them anything to occupy them while in their brooder. I can't tell you the excitement that it caused, you would of thought I brought them out to a carnival. They are only 4 days old, and you would have thought they were at an amusement park! They jumped on it, pecked at it, pulled and played tug of war with the dandelion leaves, and by the end of the clods uselfulness, they were showing signs of scratching away, and trying to lay down and roll in it. I am a horse person, and used to reading animal body language, and this is just hysterical. Thank you for the suggestion, my 10 girls really had a blast!
  10. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    Melabella, I'm glad it worked for your chicks. All animals get bored, and chicks are no exception. I do think that my hens raised like this in the brooder are the calmest birds with 0 pecking issues.

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