Whose age decides feed in mixed age chicks/pullets?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Nic&Chickies, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. Nic&Chickies

    Nic&Chickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 23, 2010
    New Britain, CT
    I have seven pullets (must learn to stop saying chicks [​IMG]). The Mille Fleur D'Uccles are the oldest, at 16 weeks next Wednesday. The Americana and Wyandotte are almost 13 weeks, and the Polish and Partridge 12. I know that 16 weeks is the *magic* age to switch to layer feed, but who rules in a mixed-age flock? (We feed Nutrena NatureWise Starter Grower to them now, and still have an unopened 25 lb. bag, plus most of a 5-gallon pickle bucket full of this crumble).
    Are the older ones okay staying on the "baby food"another month?
    Is there harm in putting the youngest on layer feed a month early?
    We got the older ones on Chick Day, knowing that they'll grow to be smaller than the just-hatched [​IMG] ones, who will protect them from the "big girls" when they all come together later. They are mostly segregated in their own run, and we have chicken wire splitting the coop, so they don't get near the older hens, or their layer feed. It's just a little confusing at this in-between stage.
     
  2. nivtup

    nivtup Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2008
    Shelton Washington
    Keep them on starter / grower until they start laying, and then switch them all over. By then they will be close enough that the change won't be an issue.
     
  3. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    I have heard 18 weeks is a typical time for them to start laying and for the pullets long term health it is better for them to not start laying too early. They should be eating a feed that has 15% protein before they start laying. They won't need the calcium in layer feed until they have actually started laying eggs. Here is something from another thread that may be helpful:

    Gail Damerow, in Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, writes that a pullet that starts laying too early may experience egg binding or prolapse.
    Other problems can be partial moults and neck moults out of season. I haven't experienced this but have seen it mentioned on breeder's websites / in forums.
    Commercial feed supplier websites sometimes make reference to this issue as well, stressing that pullets should not start laying too early: feeding regimes aim at the hens being of a breed-specific minimum weight by the time they start laying. If they are underweight at that point eggs will be too small and the pullets more prone to illnesses.
    Old poultry books similarly distinguish 'growth-forming' from 'forcing' foods.
     
  4. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    It's just a little confusing at this in-between stage.

    It's confusing because people overthink it.

    A couple of weeks one way or the other makes no difference at all

    It's just chickens and chicken feed, and there is no "right" way to do it, nor is there a "wrong" way to do it.

    People have raised these birds for hundreds of years without all the different feeds​
     
  5. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

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    Morristown, AZ
    Quote:It's confusing because people overthink it.

    A couple of weeks one way or the other makes no difference at all

    It's just chickens and chicken feed, and there is no "right" way to do it, nor is there a "wrong" way to do it.

    People have raised these birds for hundreds of years without all the different feeds

    Agreed, been keeping chickens for many years as did family before me and back then ya just let them run the farm, fed them grain and corn along with the table scraps the dogs didn't get, and they laid fine and were healthy [​IMG] The chicks just grew up following mom and doing/eating what she did...

    Guess we made it somewhat more complicated, but I like to think we have healthier birds and higher egg production for our efforts and expense. Heck I can't remember anyone actually spending money to keep chickens as they just lived on free range, left over animal feed, and corn/grain and gave us free eggs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  6. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    The good thing about letting chickens forage for a lot of their food is that they will probably balance out what ever nutrition they need so we don't have to think about it too much. If you feed them grower with a little more protein than they need they will just eat grass and weeds to balance that out. When the chickens don't get a chance to forage then the type of feed we give them makes a bit more difference.
     
  7. SassyKat6181

    SassyKat6181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a mixed flock of all ages.....chickens, ducks and guinea fowl. They are all on BlueSeal Gamebird starter/grower crumbles and I keep oyster shell out free range for the laying girls. Everyone is healthy, and I don't have to worry about different feed.
     
  8. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have six poulets and they are ten weeks old. A few weeks ago I was at the feed store to get feed. My girls had been on Game Bird Growth Crumble but they were out. The lady asked the age of my girls (mine are big for their age too) and she said Egg Layer Crumble was fine. You're probably going to get lots of differing ideas on this. My girls are doing just fine. I give them yogurt, watermelon, superworms etc. Plus they get to freerange for a couple/few hours almost every day so they get lots of grass, bugs etc. I really would not worry about it. Think about it, if they were being raised by their mother they would be eating what she eats!
     
  9. Nic&Chickies

    Nic&Chickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    New Britain, CT
    Thanks all!
    I guess I'll continue to feed what I have until it runs out, and see if I need another small bag of the "baby food" at that point. And get them in the grassy area of the yard more often, where the older girls like to hang out.
     

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