When exactly to switch over to a laying feed?

rizhussain44

In the Brooder
Oct 29, 2020
6
31
23
Peoria, IL
Hi Fellows, sorry for this long question! I am a new chicken owner. I have a total of 10 chickens, 4 of these (2 ISA Brown & 2 California White) are now 14 weeks old, while the rest 6 (all Orpington Buffs) are now 12 weeks old.
What I have researched so far is that California White starts laying at age of 17 weeks while the ISA Brown and Orpington Buff starts laying at around 22 weeks or later. I feel this will be the case for my chickens too because my California white (CW) grew much faster than the rest.. they got their complete tail feathers at around 8 or 9 weeks and they were the tallest back then.. even though the rest of the chickens have now caught up or even surpassed the CW in size their tail feathers and wing tip feathers are still small in size.
So, assuming that my CW will start laying in 3 to 4 more weeks (18 week age) and the rest of my chickens will start laying much later, I plan to keep them all on the start & grow feed they are currently on and then introduce free-choice calcium (oyster or egg shells on side) when my older chickens (CW) will reach the age of 18 or even sooner if they start laying eggs.

Now, the question I have is, whether I should switch to layer feed for all of them when my younger chickens reach the age of 18 weeks or shall I keep them all on start and grow feed with free-choice calcium until most of my chicken start laying eggs? I assume that will be by week 22 to 23.
 

MarkJr

Change in America begins at the dinner table
Premium Feather Member
Jun 15, 2020
3,333
15,821
461
Elkton, OR
I personally give free choice oyster shell and 18-20% meat bird feed from a local bulk supplier. They are doing amazing on it. I don’t have to worry about moving to a different feed if I add a rooster, and integrating chicks from my broody is very simple.
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
723
1,297
196
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I am in the All Flock plus free choice oyster shell (and spent egg shell) camp as well. Direct reflection of my flock composition (includes ducks), that I raise some meat birds (ok, dual purpose males), and that I am periodically either culling for table or raising new chicks to replace what's been culled. So its really my only practical option.

But there is no reason that transitioning to a layer feed is superior except that it doesn't, in theory, require supplemental calcium -though I think we all do oyster shell anyways as a bit of cheap insurance - and when your layers have to be replaced, you will be right back in the two feeds condition most using layer are trying to avoid (though the frequency depends highly on the breeds of your layers).

Unless there is a significant financial advantage to going layer plus free choice, I'd stick with your current feed, and put out the oyster shell now. your birds will consume some because its new - won't hurt them any - then leave it alone unless/until their bodies tell them they need it. Its a lizard brain thing.

/edit I've used Nutrena All Flock and the Purina Flock Raiser I was buying from the local farm store. Am now mixing feeds from a local mill, 50/50 a 24% game bird grower and a 16% layer to get a 20% protein final product with some extra calcium (my ducks aren't great about the brand of oyster shell I bought), but not a calcium heavy dedicated layer feed. FWIW
 

RevlisRemmah

Songster
Jul 10, 2020
547
1,316
196
Central Michigan
My Coop
I agree with the others. My local feed store has a 20% “Flock Maker” that is an All Flock Feed.

They have access to a dish of oyster shell and a separate dish of grit. I do give them daily extras like kitchen scraps or mealworms, plus they forage in the run.

I only have 2/15 that are laying (and I have one cockerel) but so far their early eggs have strong shells! I’m happy with the feed!
 

rizhussain44

In the Brooder
Oct 29, 2020
6
31
23
Peoria, IL
Guys, thanks for your detailed replies and that also super quick! So all of your feedback tells me that it is perfectly fine if I keep them on their current diet for as long as I want.. and just add the free-choice calcium and that I can do as early as now as it won’t hurt and they will eat it only if needed.

This has cleared the confusion for me, thanks again!! ☺
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
723
1,297
196
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I see from your post count you are new to BYC @rizhussain44 . WELCOME!!! I hope you find this place as useful and helpful as I have.

and if I might offer one last piece of unsolicited advice? If you go into your Account Profile (click your screen name at upper right next to the Search feature), then select Account Details, about half way down the listing you should be able to set your location with as much, or as little, specificity as you want.

The answers to some questions are regional in nature - climate, available materials, etc - and having that listed automatically will help avoid future questions that delay the answers you seek.

Very best to you, and your chicken journey!
 

gclarrot

Chirping
Apr 21, 2020
146
226
70
I’ve been introducing all flock 20% nutrena to their grower starter from nutrena 16% with oyster shell on the side. I’m transitioning them all over to all flock since I will be purchasing ducks in the spring. My 2/12 ladies are laying (20 week EE and 1, 30 week buff orphington lol...) I have some pullets who are also about 15 weeks (2 black copper Marans, 1 isa brown and 1 silver laced wynadotte).
Their eggs have been rock solid and nearly impossible to crack. I mean very pleased with their quality.
 

rizhussain44

In the Brooder
Oct 29, 2020
6
31
23
Peoria, IL
I see from your post count you are new to BYC @rizhussain44 . WELCOME!!! I hope you find this place as useful and helpful as I have.

and if I might offer one last piece of unsolicited advice? If you go into your Account Profile (click your screen name at upper right next to the Search feature), then select Account Details, about half way down the listing you should be able to set your location with as much, or as little, specificity as you want.

The answers to some questions are regional in nature - climate, available materials, etc - and having that listed automatically will help avoid future questions that delay the answers you seek.

Very best to you, and your chicken journey!
Thanks, that’s good to know, I will do it :)
 

rizhussain44

In the Brooder
Oct 29, 2020
6
31
23
Peoria, IL
I’ve been introducing all flock 20% nutrena to their grower starter from nutrena 16% with oyster shell on the side. I’m transitioning them all over to all flock since I will be purchasing ducks in the spring. My 2/12 ladies are laying (20 week EE and 1, 30 week buff orphington lol...) I have some pullets who are also about 15 weeks (2 black copper Marans, 1 isa brown and 1 silver laced wynadotte).
Their eggs have been rock solid and nearly impossible to crack. I mean very pleased with their quality.
Wow, that hard! Thanks for sharing info about your feed. I will look into it. I am using Purina start and grow and was planning to switch to their Layer feed if needed.
 

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