When do you suggest to start my chickens on grower feed?

MTKitty

Songster
Aug 14, 2021
470
2,370
236
MT
I feed crumble. As an oatmeal-like consistency wet mash.
Like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, I'm now eaten up from nose-to-tail with curiosity.

How far in advance of feeding do you mix the pellet or crumble with water before feeding?How much do you mix to avoid waste or spoilage? Is fermenting necessary or can mash go straight to the feeder? What kind of feeder do you use for mash? How long do you leave it in the run before removing (I'm thinking fly attractant, dirt & manure accumulation, and/or spoilage if left too long)? Is eight weeks too soon to offer mash?

I'm intrigued for a lot of reasons, but if mash allows for better controlling wastage, it sounds worth trying.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
18,182
36,867
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
So, if given the option, with layer feed, between pellet and crumble, which is preferable and why?
Personally I prefer pellets because there's less waste/mess. Chickens of all ages generally prefer crumble, from what I've gathered from various reports on BYC.

Young birds will need crumble due to size (hence starter feed being crumbles) but can switch to pellets fairly early on, like 6-8 weeks-ish, if you prefer pellets and can find an all-flock or grower in pellet.

How far in advance of feeding do you mix the pellet or crumble with water before feeding?How much do you mix to avoid waste or spoilage? Is fermenting necessary or can mash go straight to the feeder? What kind of feeder do you use for mash? How long do you leave it in the run before removing (I'm thinking fly attractant, dirt & manure accumulation, and/or spoilage if left too long)? Is eight weeks too soon to offer mash?

I'm intrigued for a lot of reasons, but if mash allows for better controlling wastage, it sounds worth trying.
For mash I would just mix it just before serving, no need to ferment it. I put some dry feed into bowls (I use small dog/cat bowls, ramekins, etc) and then add water and stir, until there's a thick paste-like consistency. The chickens eat it up fairly fast so it doesn't sit out for long (however I do also feed fermented and that can stay out a whole day without issue).

Yes chicks will eat it but sometimes it may take a few days before they're really willing to try it, if they've only ever had dry feed before.

For me personally, I only serve mash when I have leftover dust from crumble or pellets (I save it up in a plastic tub), so it's a cost saving measure to turn food waste into feed that the chickens can eat.
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,050
15,094
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, I'm now eaten up from nose-to-tail with curiosity.

How far in advance of feeding do you mix the pellet or crumble with water before feeding?How much do you mix to avoid waste or spoilage? Is fermenting necessary or can mash go straight to the feeder? What kind of feeder do you use for mash? How long do you leave it in the run before removing (I'm thinking fly attractant, dirt & manure accumulation, and/or spoilage if left too long)? Is eight weeks too soon to offer mash?

I'm intrigued for a lot of reasons, but if mash allows for better controlling wastage, it sounds worth trying.
I measure it in a 5 gallon bucket (currently 5 scoops, about 12#, maybe 50-60% of a 5 gal bucket in height). I walk back towards the coop, open the spigot on my rainwater collection system, start filling. While it fills, I stir with a big stick till I have oatmeal. Take a few minutes, and probably 2-3?? gallons of water.

Then finish walking into the run, and start pouring it out, sort of sludgy, into 5" plastic gutters I use as feed troughs. Hang out about 10 min and watch the flock. They should take about that long to finish the majortiy of it, and a good number wander off.

If they almost all stop before then, and walk off I cut the feed ration by a half scoop. If they finish it all bu 7-8 minutes and start mobbing my feet, I add a half scoop.
 
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BrooksHatlen

Free Ranging
Jun 2, 2020
3,257
9,605
613
Near Devil's Millhopper
I use flock raiser crumble...even for the ones I hatched. I also use Nutrena all flock pellets mixed with a small amount of scratch as a treat around 9 wks. Little ones get the small leftovers from that sometimes. I've given mash as described above. Oyster shell is on the side for those that need it. I think the nutritional label is more helpful than the "type" the bag says.
 

catballou

Songster
Feb 12, 2021
201
207
126
Michigan
after the first bag of chick starter is gone, Flock Raiser crumble in the feeders.
They get 2 cup of ten way in the run to scratch at.
https://www.jandjbagging.com/10-WAY-SHOW-STOPPER-SCRATCH-50BG

What i realy like about the ten way is the soy bean they don't eat and things they miss Sprout in a day or two and they get fresh greens.
Yes, but the soybeans are a waste. They shouldn't put them in there because I don't like paying for something they don't want to eat. In the winter they don't sprout. But I still feed it.
 

Starpod

Chirping
Sep 18, 2021
55
112
86
Thank you everyone!
Thanks Thank You GIF by bluesbear
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,050
15,094
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Yes, but the soybeans are a waste. They shouldn't put them in there because I don't like paying for something they don't want to eat. In the winter they don't sprout. But I still feed it.
The soy beans are a critical component of a balanced diet in every feed I am aware of, where they are present. Necessary to boost the overall protein levels and provide a more balanced amino acid profile in an otherwise largely grain diet.

Birds refusing to/selectively eating bits is one of the biggest problems with whole grain feeds, whatever else you might think of them. Like a petulent pre-adolescent refusing to eat thier veggies - when they do it day after day, nutritional imbalances occur which are detrimental to your birds.

and much as I like fresh greens (and my birds, too), the nutrition of fresh greens is different from the nutrition of the seed of the same plant.

Reccomend either crushing/milling that feed so they are less able to "play favorites", or beginning a mash/ferment program, again, to make it more difficult for them to selectively gorge or avoid certain components of your feed.
 
Jul 23, 2021
247
382
111
Southern Idaho
I was going starter feed throughout the winter, possibly longer. Three age groups. 23 weeks, 11 weeks, and new 6/7 weeks. It is medicated. I will purchase a new bag tomorrow. Should I reconsider and get all flock. ugh, so confused. BTW 23 weeks are still not laying.
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,050
15,094
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I was going starter feed throughout the winter, possibly longer. Three age groups. 23 weeks, 11 weeks, and new 6/7 weeks. It is medicated. I will purchase a new bag tomorrow. Should I reconsider and get all flock. ugh, so confused. BTW 23 weeks are still not laying.
Chickens "lay when they lay". There's a lot of individual variations, with some distinct influence of breed. I usually offer a four week "range of typical". Production layers like comets, ISA brown, and other Red Sex Links generally start laying between 16 - 20 weeks, and are considereed very early layers. I've seencredible reports of 15 weeks and even a 14 week claim, but I've also seen (at least as credible) reports of week 22, 23 with individual birds of those very early laying breeds. My dark Brahma? 7 months. Mostly started around week 28-29. They are not considered "early" layers.

My age groups right now (approximately) 2 weeks, 5 weeks 8 weeks, 11 weeks, 14 weeks, 17 weeks, 20 weeks, 23 weeks, 30 weeks, 34 weeks, 37 weeks, 56 weeks, 84 weeks. "All Flock" is what I'd use, if my management practices were more typical, and what I did use when I started.
 

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