When should I start feeding Layer and Scratch?!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tylerhearn, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. tylerhearn

    tylerhearn In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2011
    Hi all! I am new to chickens this year and I think that my girls are getting to the age where they will need to start eating layer food. So, I have read different things, some recommend feeding at a certain age (20 weeks or so) even if not laying yet, and some recommend switching to layer when they start laying. What do you recommend? My girls are 20 - 23 weeks old and I am almost at the bottom of my chick feed bag and wondering if I should switch to layer if they haven't started laying yet?

    Second part: Any recommendations on food brands and scratch? My feed store sells Nutrena Nature Wise, Nutrena Country Feeds, and Nature Smart Organic. Any of you use any of these, and if so/not what do you recommend out of them or other brands?

    All advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!


  2. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

    Jan 10, 2010
    Vacationland, Maine
    You don't need scratch. I instead choose plain black oil sunflower seeds and sprinkle those on the ground in the morning and right before they go to roost at night when it's cold, once a day when it's not cold.

    You can just switch to regular pelleted feed now, and skip the layer pellets all together. Just make sure you have free choice oyster shell calcium for them to get their calcium needs.

    If you have larger birds (ie not sex links, EE or white leghorns) they'll probably be happier with more protein in their feed anyway - besides the calcium the protein content differs from layer to something like Purina Flock Raiser or Blue Seal Turkey Grower Pellets.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You can do either. The only significant difference in Layer and Grower is the calcium level. The calcium is used for egg shells. If they are not laying, they obviously don't need the extra calcium in Layer, but at the age of yours, it won't hurt them to have it. Their bodies, now that they are pretty much grown, can process the extra without damage. If you are not feeding Grower but are feeding Flock Raiser, Developer, Starter, or that combined Starter/Grower, there is a difference in protein level, but that is not real important as long as you are not feeding a real high protein content feed. You can keep feeding any of it. I do agree that offering oyster shell on the side is a good idea. They may experiment with it a bit, but if they don't need it for the shells they should not eat much of it. It's just there if needed.

    You can feed whatever treats you want, but the usual recommendation is to only feed them enough that they can clean it up in 10 to 20 minutes. There is a whole lot of flexibility in this, but the general idea is that the commercial feed is a balanced diet if that is all they eat. If they eat a lot of other stuff, that diet is no longer balanced. A balanced diet is a lot more than just protein. It is also fats, fiber, amino acids (which I believe are specific proteins), minerals, vitamins, and who knows what else. I especially like to add green stuff to their diet. It generally adds some good stuff.

    A lot of us violate that 10 to 20 minutes and do fine. It is just a general guideline that will keep you out of trouble by avoiding excesses. If you free range, you lose control over what they eat anyway, so I'd worry about it a lot less. I violate that 10 to 20 minutes regularly when I keep them in the run, but I give them a wide variety of different treats.

    I'm not going to recommend a specific brand. I use different nationally known brands and they do well on all of them. But you will find some people with strong preferences.
  4. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    Most of us--well, definitely me--just switch over to layer feed if they are at (or real close to) laying age. Particularly if we are at the end of a bag of grower/starter feed & have nothing else to feed it to. No justification to buy a new bag, ya know?

  5. tylerhearn

    tylerhearn In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2011
    Quote:Thank you for the great information Ridgerunner, it is very helpful. I learned quick that they loooove greens, so every trip to the grocery store I pick some up. Thanks again!
  6. tylerhearn

    tylerhearn In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2011
    Quote:TigerLilly, I think that I am in the same boat, the grower/starter feed is just about out and I think that they are close enough to start them on the layer. Thanks for the information!
  7. mikecnorthwest

    mikecnorthwest Songster

    Mar 27, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    My Coop
    I switch to Purina Layena when my birds are about 20 weeks old and last time that was about the time my Start and Grow bag was empty.

  8. kerrysmommy

    kerrysmommy Songster

    Mar 15, 2010
    My house :]
    my silkie is on cracked corn and layer mixed.............she is 5mo (at least we hope its a she) people say that you shouldnt start laying feed intill they lay their 1st egg but i do it at age 4 months
  9. Mikee1948

    Mikee1948 Chirping

    May 19, 2011

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