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when to start layer feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by samandramey, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. samandramey

    samandramey Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 26, 2009
    queen creek, az
    so, my girls wont start to lay for a few months but i've been feeding them layer feed. I'm wondering if i should wait till they start to lay. I also have one girl (hope its a girl) who is much younger then the others and hasnt quite feathered out in her neck yet... should i definitely be feeding her grower feed or something? they all obviously eat the same food, any opinions/suggestions?
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Don't give them layer feed until they are 18-19 weeks.

    They need grower/finisher feed until then.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
  3. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Different hens/breeds begin laying at different ages; it can vary by a month or two or more. Do not start feeding layer feed until they actually lay their first egg; otherwise, you'll be giving them excess calcium that their bodies cannot use and will do damage to them for life. They also need less protein once they begin laying.
  4. kagedgoddess

    kagedgoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2009
    how old are they? if one hasnt finished feathering and theyre close in age i would say grower rwations, not layer. my co-op recommends switching to layer at 16 wks, But ya know if you have breeds like wyandottes that dont lay till like 6mos, i d wait till they were closer to point of lay. they *Should* be on layer Before they start laying, but not for long. its also no big deal if they start laying Before getting layer. as long as you switch once they start. my grower will run out when my chickies are about 14wks, i will switch to layer then, BUT i have rsl's and they are already Very pink in the combs, and some of that breed have been known to lay at 12 wks. good luck hope this helps!
  5. samandramey

    samandramey Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 26, 2009
    queen creek, az
    thanks everyone, that helps. I figured it was a bit too early for layer. Three of my older hens are about 13 weeks and the other one is totally unknown but i'd guess about 8 weeks. so when the other ones start to lay...the little one will be eating layer pretty early as there isnt really a way to seperate thier food. do you think i can mix grower and layer so the little one can still have it, or will it mess up the girls that are gonna be laying?

    Again, thanks everyone!!!
  6. livin-green

    livin-green Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2008
    Clay, Alabama
    Yes, I'm having the same issue. I have a laying flock that was 1 year in April. I have just worked 2 new Barred Rocks into the flock that are ~16 weeks old this Wednesday. Do you think it is too soon for them to be eating the same layer feed with added flax seed that the laying flock is eating. I don't know how to separate the feed without having to separate the chickens again....and luckily they seem to be getting along right now. What if I separate the young ones for a few hours in the morning with grower/starter and return them to the coop for the rest of the day/night?? Think that would make any difference?
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    When you have laying chickens mixed with younger birds, feed them all the grower. Offer oyster shell on the side so the hens can get the calcium they need. The chicks should eat little or none of the oyster shell.
  8. livin-green

    livin-green Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2008
    Clay, Alabama
    Thanks--that's good to know. I figured they would eat the oyster shell as much as the laying hens.

    Another post about how long chicks can stay on starter/grower talked about this same kind of thing. I'm curious if the start-n-grow that I use will be okay. I "advertise" our eggs as being free of hormones, antibiotics, etc., and the chick feed I use is medicated. It contains amprolium (113g/ton) which someone said is not an antibiotic but an anti-protozoal (not the same & safer)....any opinions on this??
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree with ddawn. And don't freak if the younger eat some of the oyster shell. Too much calcium is bad for them until they reach laying age but they do need some calcium for bone and beak development. If all they eat is grower then they should be getting enough calcium, but if they get other things to eat, they may want to supplement the calcium.

    I am NOT saying to offer oyster shells to growing chicks. I'm just saying to not freak out if they eat a few bites of the big girls supplement.
  10. valentinebaby

    valentinebaby Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2009
    Sherman-Denison, TX
    samandramey: Looks like you have a new hampshire red in your group of girls. I have 4 and one started laying at 17 weeks on the dot. Two started at 17 1/2 weeks and the last started at 18 1/2 weeks. You'll get differing opinions as to what to feed your chickens and when. Most agree that you don't switch until they are laying - the problem with that is that different breeds start at different times-and my BO's are a week younger than my EE's and NHR's. As long as you supply crushed oyster shell as a calcium supplement, those that need it will eat it and you shouldn't have to switch to layer feed until they are all laying.

    I read an old pdf book from a renowned chicken farmer in California (can't find it right now! but it was a link from one of the posts on this site) who recommended keeping chickens at 20% protein feed (he said it kept them healthier and more egg productive) so I had planned on keeping mine on a 20% Allway crumble and oyster shell on the side. About a week ago, I decided to try a 20% Allway feed that was pelletized (to reduce waste-hah!)...the girls HATED it! After trying to crumble it up to little success, I purchased TSC's 16% layer feed and they seem to prefer that over the other brand. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when this bag is through. It's kind of my experiment to see if they lay better on the 16% layer crumble or the 20% Allway crumble. If I see a difference over the next 2 weeks, I'll let you know. So far, the 20% is winning, but I'm going to use up the bag of 16% and give it time to see if it works as well. Could be that switching immediately over to the new 16% feed is the culprit to their producing less, but again, we'll see. Good luck!


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