When to switch feed

kadylady

In the Brooder
Feb 10, 2021
21
14
26
I've been feeding my chicks Purina Start and Grow medicated since hatch. When should I switch them to a different feed? Purina site says to feed till 18 weeks. Then to transition to layer feed. They are 12 weeks and not allowed to free range yet.
 

kadylady

In the Brooder
Feb 10, 2021
21
14
26
You can switch when you get some eggs, a lot of poultry keepers feed All Flock or Flock Raiser which has more protein and have oyster shell on the side
My plan was to keep them on Start and Grow until laying. Thought I better get some other opinions. Thanks
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,080
22,820
907
Southeast Louisiana
I've been feeding my chicks Purina Start and Grow medicated since hatch. When should I switch them to a different feed? Purina site says to feed till 18 weeks. Then to transition to layer feed. They are 12 weeks and not allowed to free range yet.
You have a few different issues here. Purina is basing that time on the commercial egg laying operations. They manage when their pullets start to lay by using the commercial egg laying hybrids and controlling lights. We don't do that so we don't know when our pullets will actually start laying. That's why you often see the suggestion to wait until you see eggs to switch to Layer. They don't need the extra calcium in Layer to make egg shells until they start to lay.

Some of us never switch to Layer. I feed them a fairly low calcium Grower (16% protein content) and offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the calcium in oyster shell for the egg shells seem to know it, the others don't eat enough to harm themselves. Instead of Grower some people feed a higher protein content feed like Starter, Starter/Grower, All-Flock, of Flock-Raiser with the oyster shell on the side. These all have a fairly low calcium content.

The other issue is "medicated" feed. Some use it, some don't. It's often misunderstood and can be complicated. I always suggest you check the label to see what the medicine actually is. Different medicines work differently, I always want to know which one I'm working with. This is for other people using a different medicated feed. Purina Start and Grow Medicated does use Amprolium so this does apply to you.

This is kind of long but hopefully you can make an informed decision on the medicated part of the feed. If they have been on the ground )in a run) for over three weeks they should have developed immunity, I'd switch to a non-medicated feed when the current bag runs out. But not Layer.

First you need to know what the "medicated" is in the medicated feed. It should be on the label. Usually it is Amprolium, Amprol, some such product, but until you read the label, you really don't know. Most "medicated' feed from major brands for chicks that will be layers uses Amprolium, but there are a few out there mostly for broilers that use other medicines. I'll assume yours is an Amprolium product, but if it is not, then realize everything I say about it may not apply. And it is possible that the "medicated" is Amprolium AND something else.

Amprol is not an antibiotic. It does not kill anything. It inhibits the protozoa that cause coccidiosis (often called Cocci on this forum) from multiplying in the chicken's system. It does not prevent the protozoa from multiplying; it just slows that multiplication down. There are several different strains of protozoa that can cause Cocci, some more severe than others. Chickens can develop immunity to a specific strain of the protozoa, but that does not give them immunity to all protozoa that cause Cocci. Little bitty tiny baby chicks can develop that immunity easier than older chickens.

It is not a big deal for the chicken’s intestines to contain some of the protozoa that cause Cocci. The problem comes in when the number of those protozoa gets huge. The protozoa can multiply in the chicken’s intestines but also in wet manure. Different protozoa strains have different strengths, but for almost all cases, if you keep the brooder dry, you will not have a problem.

To develop immunity to a specific strain, that protozoa needs to be in the chicks intestines for two or three weeks. The normal sequence is that a chick has the protozoa. It poops and some of the cysts that develop the protozoa come out in the poop. If the poop is slightly damp, those cysts develop and will then develop in the chick's intestines when the chicks eat that poop. This cycle needs go on for a few weeks so all chicks are exposed and they are exposed long enough to develop immunity. A couple of important points here. You do need to watch them to see if they are getting sick. And the key is to keep the brooder dry yet allow some of the poop to stay damp. Not soaking wet, just barely damp. Wet poop can lead to serious problems.

What sometimes happens is that people keep chicks in a brooder and feed them medicated feed while they are in the brooder. Those chicks are never exposed to the Cocci protozoa that lives in the dirt in their run, so they never develop the immunity to it. Then, they are switched to non-medicated feed and put on the ground where they are for the first time exposed to the protozoa. They do not have immunity, they do not have the protection of the medicated feed, so they get sick. Feeding medicated feed while in the brooder was a complete waste.

I do not feed medicated feed. I keep the brooder dry to not allow the protozoa to breed uncontrollably. The third day that they are in the brooder, I take a scoop of dirt from the run and feed it to them so I can introduce the protozoa and they can develop the immunity they need to the strain they need to develop an immunity to. To provide a place for that slightly damp poop, I keep a square of plywood in the dry brooder and let the poop build up on that. I don't lose chicks to Cocci when they hit the ground.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding medicated feed to chicks, whether the protozoa are present or not. It will not hurt them. They can still develop the immunity they need. But unless the protozoa are present, it also does no good.

If you get your chicks vaccinated for Cocci, do not feed medicated feed. It can negate the vaccinations.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom