When to switch to layer feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Original Recipe, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe Out Of The Brooder

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    My chicks are about 6 weeks away from beginning to lay. They are currently on starter/grower with a wheat grass fodder ration daily. I have about 3 weeks worth of starter/grower left right now. My question is should I go ahead and switch to layer feed when I run out of s/g (which will be 3-5 weeks prior to lay) or should I wait until they start. I don't really want to have a bunch left over and I don't know if it's OK to keep them on starter for the first few weeks of laying. Also, should I go ahead and start them on oyster shell now or wait until they start to lay?
     
  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not entirely sure of when is too soon to start layer feed. You could just get more if your current feed and give them a side of oyster shell, they will self regulate on the oyster shell. I have heard its best not to feed both layer feed and oyster shell...of course that would depend upon the calcium percentage in your layer feed. You don't want to give them too much calcium, it can be very hard on their kidneys. Do you only have females and they're all the same age? If so, layer feed would be easy. If you have any Roos or younger birds, you don't want them eating layer feed, though some folks do feed their Roos layer. If you don't want to get oyster shell because you'll only need it for a few weeks before they switch to layer feed, just use crushed egg shells. Our birds seem to prefer the egg shells over oyster.
     
  3. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe Out Of The Brooder

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    All hen, all the same age. So I don't need oyster shell if I'm feeding layer? I gave them crushed egg shells for the first time this morning, they hardly touched it.
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    How do you know they are 5 weeks from laying? Some birds lay at 18 weeks and some 30 weeks so it's hard to pinpoint unless you've been breeding your own flock.

    It's OK to feed layer feed a few weeks early, the only problem with layer feed is the high calcium in it for laying birds. High levels of calcium for non laying birds is permenantly bad for their health over long periods of use. This is why many keep feeding grower feed or an all flock feed and supply oyster shell free choice on the side. This can be done for the life of your flock. Roosters, broodies and pullets wont eat it but laying hens will. This is also why some wait for laying to commence before switching to layer feed.

    So it's really your choice if you want to go the oyster shell route or a layer feed. And if you wait on switching to layer until you've used up the grower feed that's OK too. The pullets will still lay on time only the egg shells will be thin which occurs even if on the layer feed as their reproductive system are still developing sometimes. You hear of soft or no shelled eggs a lot from first laying pullets even with added calcium.
     
  5. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Thank you. Guess I'll buy another bag of grower and let them finish that off before making the switch. As far as the 5 weeks goes, that is just a guess on my part based on the average laying age for the breed I have (Golden Comets). Like I said, I've got about 3 weeks of feed left and then I'm guessing 3-5 weeks after that which puts them at 18-20 weeks and everything I've read suggests that Golden Comets start right in that range.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh yeah, if their about 12 weeks now then definitely get more grower. The feed intake will increase with size, they've more to grow yet and you'll find the daily intake of feed increase.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'd stay with the grower for another sack. There's nothing magical about layer feed and the date you start it. Your young birds really don't need the extra calcium when they start laying, they have a good supply built up. I feed only a grower type feed, and give my flock their egg shells back and/or oyster shell. I think it's better for your birds to have the extra protein now, they don't need the calcium at all yet.
     
  8. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advise. I'll stick with the grower for a while and offer egg shell. They are getting fodder as well and free foraging time daily so they should be getting plenty of protein.
     
  9. Reviving an old post to say thanks for the advise! I've got red sex links that are 6 weeks old and I am researching when to switch to layer feed...and when to integrate the chicks with the adults. I figure that when they get integrated, they're all going to be eating the same feed (which is the layer feed).
     
  10. Bethel3330

    Bethel3330 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree. This is a question I had as well. Thanks!
     

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