When to change from starter crumble to layer crumble??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jmockbee, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. jmockbee

    jmockbee In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2014
    I have 2-Buff Orps and 1Wellsummer. They are about 7-mos old and all seem to be hens but no eggs yet. Should I start them on the layer crumble now?
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging

    Feb 18, 2011
    Most commercial feeds say to start feeding when the pullets are around 18 weeks old, or they start laying eggs. Since your girls are already past that age, it doesn't really matter if you start now or wait until they start laying. If you plan on using Layer, since you generally want to switch them over gradually to a new food, I'd just get a bag of Layer next time you get low on food and mix it with the Starter then switch over to Layer totally the time after that. Instead of Layer some people do feed an All Ages/ Flock Raiser type food and have oyster shell on the side for the girls who need it, it is easier to do that if you plan on having birds of different ages or adding younger birds to your flock again soon.
  3. carladababe

    carladababe Songster

    Nov 25, 2010
    Dixon, Missouri
    According to Raising Chickens for Dummies," pullets that are going to be layers should be switched to layer feed with 16% protein and additional calcium and other nutrients at 18 weeks or when laying begins." I love the "For Dummies" series, I also have the books to help me when I started bees and horses. Lots of information, easy and fun reading. Between this book and this web site with helpful people like Kelsie 2290, I usually get all kinds wonderful education. [​IMG]
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    After you have been infected with "chicken math" and end up, in a few years, with an actual FLOCK, you will make yourself crazy trying to figure out what to feed which sexes and age groups.

    Take it from me, layer ration is over-rated. The real "raising chickens for dummies" should say, "feed Flock Raiser for all of the chickens all of the time as soon as they finish their chick starter, with oyster shell offered free-choice for the layers.

    Also, chickens will tell you they find Flock Raiser tastes way better than layer feed. Or at least mine told me so.
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I too use a game bird feed with bulk oyster shells on the side or just hand full thrown to them two or three days a week.

    The only change in feed is with new chicks and I don't like to have a lot of feed hanging around or more than one type so turn the entire flock over to crumbles until the chicks are large enough to take pellets, around 10 to 12 weeks, then everyone goes back to turkey finisher pellets. Locally we don't have "flock raiser" but it's the same as a grower or finisher for turkey/ game birds. Just get the protein content your looking for. Grower has higher protein so used in crumble form when chicks are growing and then finisher when back to pellets which is 16% protein.
  6. I'm a firm believer that you should NOT switch to layer feed at any set age, instead wait until the hens are actually laying eggs, and then if they stop laying for winter or a molt you should again stop the layer feed and go back to an unfortified feed... The hens only need the extra calcium that is found in layer feed when they are physically laying eggs, when they are not laying the calcium does more harm then good to their bodies... No harm will happen if you keep them on a starter/grower until they start laying and even after that, but they really don't need the higher protein found in starter/grower once they are adults so you can switch to an 'all flock' type of feed that has the lower protein levels, but still has lower calcium levels... Just offer them a side of oyster shells and let them regulated calcium intake...

    Personally I'm against layer feed in general, chickens are VERY good at knowing when they need calcium, so there is little reason to force it upon them in a fixed amount mixed into their feed, I find it's best to keep them on an unfortified 'all flock' feed or what not and simply offer a side of oyster shells and let them self regulate their calcium intake all by themselves...

    I was using an 18% 'all flock' for my birds but the local feed store doesn't always carry it, so as of late I have been using 22% meat bird feed and cutting it 50% with scratch that lowers the protein back to about 16% give or take... My birds also get a daily dose of fresh vegetables, fruits and what not as well and of course always have a side of grit and oyster shells...
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  7. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    I like to get my young birds off of that expensive starter as soon as possible so when they get about 4 months old, whether laying or not, I toss the pullets into the Hen Pen where they all eat Layer.

  8. Expensive? A 50lb bag of starter by me is only about $1 more then layer food and since you can cut the starter with some scratch as they get older to lower the protein once it actually comes out cheaper per pound, also'all flock' is the same price as layer by me...

    IMO saving pennies while putting the birds health at risk and drastically increasing the likelihood of kidney damage by giving them excess calcium is not worth any pennies saved when it's easily avoidable...

    I highly recommend everyone read these two articles on the subject...


  9. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama

    Yep, expensive in my world. At TSC a 50# bag of DuMor starter is $18 vs $14 for layer.
    And that's about $2 per bag cheaper than local indy feed stores. During the peak of the season I have to buy 3 bags of something each week so I'd rather buy the lower priced feed.
    Last time I tallied up my feed records for the year, which was in Nov, I had used close to 2,000 lbs of starter and over 1,000 lbs of layer.
    I've cut starter with scratch but scratch isn't cheap at $14 per 50# bag. True it reduces my cost from $36 per 100# to $32 per 100#, but the hassle of having to handle & store 2 different types of feed vs. 1, plus the wastage from the birds cherrypicking the scratch goodies from the crumbles/scratch mix makes it undesirable to me.
    If I bought the "proper" feed for all my birds I'd have to buy starter, starter/grower, finisher, and layer...4 different types of feed to handle & store vs. the 2 that I presently buy.
    The pdf article you linked indicates my 4 month pullets may be overdosing on Ca but I also consider that my pullets & hens aren't commercial caged hens on a strictly controled diet; in typical backyard fashion they have limited free range to counteract their poison with insects, plant matter, horse turds and table scraps so I'm not jeopardizing their health as bad as you think.
    If my chickens' health & performance fails, no big deal; they become chicken salad sandwichs and I hatch out 50 more to take their place.
    I'm not saying my system is the best or that everybody should do it my way, just answering the thread's question of when & why I change from starter to layer. ;)

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