When to switch feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by catdaddy66, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. catdaddy66

    catdaddy66 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 18, 2009
    Lugoff, SC
    My girls are 14-16 weeks old now and after finishing the final amount of grower feed I plan to switch them to layer rations (Layena and Dumor brands). What I am curious about is if this may be too early for their kidneys to handle the extra calcium. When do you ideally want to begin free choice oyster shell for them? I have heard that you want to wait for the first egg to be laid and also that you should introduce it earlier, before they lay. Any ideas? Thanks!
     
  2. sydney13

    sydney13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2010
    Massachusetts
    ive read that you want to switch to layer until every one of the chickens is laying. if you provide oyster shells the ones that are laying will eat as much as they need and the ones that aren't will not eat them. you can put oyster shells out when ever you want because if they don't need the calcium they don't take it. if you switch to layer when they aren't laying the calcium will build up in their kidneys because they aren't using it for the egg shells.
     
  3. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    Jan 10, 2010
    Vacationland, Maine
    I'd say it's too early to switch at 14 weeks. Depending on the type of chicken you have a higher protein non-laying feed with supplemented oyster shell on the side might work for you. I've got larger breeds (but also some white leghorns) and they're on 20% protein with oyster shell on the side. They eat what they need of that, when they need it.
    I started offering my oyster shell on the side about a week before I got eggs. The ones that had combs coming in ate it, the others weren't too interested.
     
  4. boogiedog

    boogiedog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 19, 2010
    Oakland hills, CA
    Half of my hens are now laying, and I still have everyone on 22% protein grower crumble. I have oyster shell in two dishes - free choice. I am considering leaving them on the 22% grower indefinitely, as it is a fantastic source of protein and my flock does not free range.
     
  5. catdaddy66

    catdaddy66 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 18, 2009
    Lugoff, SC
    So a 20-22% protein feed is ok during laying times? I have them on 20% now, but most layer rations are 16-18%. I have long felt higher protein was optimal for all types of tissue growth (ie feathers, combs, bones, muscles, etc.) so during the growth phase have kept the levels of protein higher than recommended. I am actually relieved to hear that [​IMG]

    Oyster shell free choice at anytime, as the hens will only eat what is required? Cool! [​IMG] Sounds easy enough!
     
  6. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    It is very easy! Also if you hatch out chicks you won't need to worry about them eating layer feed or separating food.

    I'm also of the school of thought that 16 to 18% protein isn't enough, unless you've got small breeds like leghorns. I raised them as chicks from 22% protein then moved them to 20% protein when they were about 8-10 weeks. They have beautiful coats (although I also give black oil sunflower seed) and are not feather pickers. In my opinion they're all healthy and beautiful, but everyone feels that way about their kids!
     

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