When to switch mixed breed 10 chicken flock to layer feed?

gtaus

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I have a small backyard flock of 10 chickens, from 10 different breeds. They are currently 18 weeks old and no eggs - yet. I just put out the nest boxes today with some fake eggs, thinking that it might not be too long before some of the chickens start laying. Because they are different breeds, I expect some girls to start laying weeks after the first eggs arrive.

My current plan is to keep all the chickens on a 18% grower/raiser feed until I start seeing some eggs. When I see eggs, I plan on continuing with the grower feed but also offering oyster shells in a separate small feeder, thinking only the girls laying eggs will be eating the oyster shells. When I start getting a number of eggs everyday, then I plan on switching over to layer feed (which include oyster shells) for all the chickens. Is this a reasonable plan or should I consider something else? Thanks.
 

sealer39

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Yes,
You could go ahead and introduce the oyster shell, won’t hurt and some of your chickens may need it. If you’re going to switch to layer feed, I’d wait till all the chickens are laying then gradually introduce the layer feed by mixing it with their current feed. Chickens hate change especially (in my experience) when it comes to their food.
 

slordaz

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I read package and started the first ones at 16 weeks, but then decidecd was easier to just use flock raiser/all flock depending on brand, and give oyster chell on a dish separate and they eat it as needed, haven't had as many issues getting kinks worked out that way when they did start laying
 

gtaus

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You could go ahead and introduce the oyster shell, won’t hurt and some of your chickens may need it. If you’re going to switch to layer feed, I’d wait till all the chickens are laying then gradually introduce the layer feed by mixing it with their current feed.

If you want to give layer feed you can of course, but as long as you’re offering oyster shells an all-flock feed would be fine.

...decided was easier to just use flock raiser/all flock depending on brand, and give oyster shell on a dish separate and they eat it as needed, haven't had as many issues getting kinks worked out that way when they did start laying

OK. Thanks for the confirmation. Think I will pick up some oyster shell tomorrow and put it in a bowl so those that may need it have some available.
 

gtaus

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FYI Layer doesn't have Oyster Shell in it, it's lower in protein & a higher amount of calcium which can harm chicks & Roos. You can stick to what you're feeding & just an extra dish of Oyster Shells, not to be mixed with feed.

Well, this is the Purina layer feed I was looking at to get at our local farm store:

purina_layena_crumbles_oyster_strong_50lb_595454.jpg


I was assuming that "Oyster Strong" refers to oyster shell included in the feed. The other brand of layer feed at our farm store also includes oyster shells. Oyster shells are 96% calcium. I was aware that a higher amount of calcium in layer feed can harm chicks & Roos, so that is why I am concerned about my girls because I know not all will start laying eggs at the same time.

All my birds are now 18 weeks old, none are roos. I was just thinking that the layer feed could be given safely to the girls when most of them are actively laying. During the transition period of the next 4 weeks, I am thinking just offering oyster shell in a side dish and keep the main grower/raiser feed. I still have one 50# bag of grower/raiser feed which will last me until about week 22 for the girls, then I would transition all feed to the layer feed (which has oyster shells in it).

Our local farm store has a labor day special on layer feed (with oyster shells) and I would be saving about $4.00 per 50# bag. So I was thinking of picking up a few bags and store them until the hens start laying.
 

cavemanrich

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The Purina Layer feed is fine. If you would start giving it to them now,,,,,, there would NOT BE ANY CATASTROPHE. They will start laying soon.
Many peeps get into a needless PANIC MODE, over too much calcium in their chickens diet. Fear that their chicken's kidneys and liver will QUICKLY FAIL. I do agree that too much calcium, for non layers is NOT GOOD, it is also not going to happen very fast.
I personally use Alflock pellets. (I prefer over crumbles) 2% calcium. Also offer oyster shells freechoice. My flock is mixed- aged, so some no longer lay regularly.
The difference between processed calcium, in feed and offering oyster shells freechoice is somewhat simple. Getting it in the feed the chickens can get too much, if their needs are low. (chickens not producing eggs)
Offering them freechoice, the chickens get what they need on their own. They will not overdose on freechoice shells.
My chickens also freerange, so they do get additional calcium from green plants from my lawn. My freechoice dish of shells does get used, but slowly.
Your 18% feed that you are using is most likely very similar to my Alflock feed in nutritional value. I suggest you comfortably use it up, and offer the oyster shells alongside, freechoice.
What protein percentage is the Purina feed that you are considering??? Many layer feeds are at 16% protein, which is really at the minimum. I like 18% feed. Certain layer feed will be at 18% , but not all. Good to check the labels for the contents. Higher protein percentage translates to higher co$t.
You can go ether route, Layer, or what you are using now. Another thing for you to consider, is when your chickens do go thru molt, or winter egg slow down. Not all chickens do the slow down, but many do, caused by the shortened daylight hours. You are still pumping the higher dose of calcium with Layer, even though they do not need soo much. Your chickens are not going to keel over quickly, but that is where the lower 2% has its advantages.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
 

GC-Raptor

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I also feed a 18/20% Protein Non-Medicated Starter-Grower or a All-Flock/Flock Raiser Crumble to my Hens. 41 months and 12 months old. One of my older hens rarely lays anymore.
I offer Oyster Shells in a separate container after 16 weeks of age. 20181214_095753.jpg .
Don't be surprised if they indulge the first two or three days as they do need extra calcium before they start to lay. GC
 

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