A feed question

As I mentioned Saturday, my sexlinks are at 17 weeks old. My RiRs are just behind them at 13.75 (Wednesday, they will be 14 weeks).

I have 16 hens and 9 Roosters, for total of 25 birds. 4 are at the 17 week mark, and 3 of those are hens.

I’ve been been feeding my chickens DuMor feed. Starter with the chick starter, and now they are all eating finisher/grower. The chart on the back of the bag says that at 18 weeks, I can start feeding my hens the layer feed.

But I have questions, the biggest one being, can I feed the layer feed to EVERYONE?

My RiRs aren’t 18 weeks yet and won’t be for another 4 weeks.

The roosters don’t lay eggs.

I don’t have them separated and they all share feeders/waters (3 feeders, 2 waters), plus they all free ranger in the barnyard and pasture right now, on top of that.

I am wondering if I should start buying layer feed for the older girls and just place it out there, not knowing who will eat it, or simply stick with the finisher/grower and supplement with oyster shells?

Or is there a better way I don’t know?

10 thoughts on “A feed question

  1. I feed layer feed to everyone. I don’t know if that is correct but that is what I do, and my roosters have always seemed healthy. I don’t know how you’d feed them separately anyway, unless you had them all separated from each other. I’ve had my younger guys on the Dumor Chick Starter, and my older birds are on the layer feed, and they all eat from each other’s dishes (I figure they are getting enough nutrition somehow – my eggs are all still thick shelled, and my younger birds are almost old enough to lay eggs). I’ve heard that the “grower/finisher” is more for meat birds. But I don’t remember where I heard that, or if it’s accurate.

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    1. I don’t know about the grower/finisher. The chart on the bags says to only feed it to about 10 weeks, and there’s a gap from 10 weeks – 18 weeks, I would need to feed them something! LOL.

      I have read that you shouldn’t feed the layer feed to chicks younger than 18 weeks because the extra calcium can be damaging to their kidneys.

      I suppose I could always pick up a bag of the layer feed use one of my 3 feeders for that, but I’d have no guarantee the hens would eat it or eat the other.

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  2. I have chickens, and I feed them ALL layer feed. Although we don’t have any roosters (yet, we have twenty chicks and at least five of them are roosters) we used to have some, and we fed them all layer mash. All I really know is that the food gives the proper nutrients to the hens to help them keep laying, and all of the roosters we’ve ever had don’t seem to care, and they’ve always seemed healthy. We use organic layer mash right now, and the hens really seem to like it. I don’t think there’s any harm in feeding layer mash to your roosters–they’ll be fine.

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  3. Actually, it doesn’t matter much – I don’t know how the prices are in the US, but, as long as you have some calcium grit, which is all the hens really need to lay eggs – for their shells – you can feed them just grain and let them rummage around for any extra treats – like insects etc smile.

    I re-use the shells of the eggs I eat – just “cook” them in the oven for a bit so and crush them – so that they don’t get into the habit of eating their own shells.

    However, if you are wanting extra large meat birds, then a bit of extra feeding up will help!

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    1. I think we’re almost done with the unintentional meat bird stage. We’re down to 9 roosters. One of them, Dots, we’re keeping around to keep the girls company. He’s Little Dude’s favorite bird, and there was much begging and the little pouty face involved in the decision making process. We might keep another one so Dots has another boy to pal around with. He seems to be getting along with most of the younger roosters now that everyone else is gone. But the remaining roos will be joining their ‘brothers’ in the freezer sometime in the near future.

      Mostly, I’m concerned about them getting what they need. I don’t really like the idea of buying different feeds for the same flock, since there’s no real way to keep the boys or the younger ones out of the layer feed. The general concensus in these comments, though, seems to be that it’d be safe to give all of them a little early… so I guess I can finish up the sack of feed we have now and switch over to layer feed entirely when we run out. I have oyster shells in a teat dish for them, but right now, I only have one hen giving eggs.

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      1. This is just the way I do things….I am not a huge business, I do not need to produce X no eggs a day to fulfil a contract I cull only when I need to, so I am not growing for meat – you call it backyard chicken keeping. The chickens have access to some land with grass and insects etc – you can feed them scraps and left overs. They don’t actually need any specialist preparation that comes in a sack.

        You live on a farm – what do you grow? Chickens will eat almost anything, so any waste in your crops can be fed to them – all chickens need grit in their crops, but they will pick what they need from the ground – for layers – as I said, they do need enuf calcium to make the shell, but often they pick that up naturally too – else how would chickens/birds in the wild have hatched eggs?

        The yellow in the yolk is brighter if they eat live plant food – one of the things layers mash/pellets add is the colourant.
        If in doubt, you will get good results with some raw carrots thrown out on the ground, so they can peck at them.

        Large producers need the preparations to replace what you can give them for free – as they keep the chickens in sheds without access to all the stuff you have…..there is no harm in having a sack of the preparations around, and feeding them as needed – and none of it will harm the chickens at any stage of their life – but – YOU can do it better!

        smile

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  4. The farm is largely inactive right now, although, we do have two garden plots filled with corn, several types of squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. We also have several apple and plum trees. I have been giving the chickens lettuce (left overs from dinner salads), carrots (they don’t like them), melon rinds (with some meat still on them), strawberry tops, plus the ends and peels from the cucumbers and squash. Also, cobs from the corn.

    They LOVE watermelon and cantaloupe, and the cucumbers the best.

    They also have access to the barn yard and pasture beyond and spend a LOT of time foraging. I’ve seen them chasing bugs, eating snails and slugs, and pulling leaves off plants. When the pasture grass got high, they all discovered that some it had tassles and seeds they could eat. Hello, natural scratch grains. *g*

    Really? Since we butchered most of the Boys, I haven’t needed much feed to begin with. I might fill their dishes once or twice a week now. That will change this winter when there isn’t as much growing.

    I haven’t been feeding them grit at all. I didn’t start giving them treats until I also started sending them outside and, like you said, they can get that grit when they peck at things in the ground. I suppose I’ll have to supplement that when winter comes.

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  5. I wouldn’t worry too much about the rooster(s). They can do fine on layer feed. While it is not the best feed for them, I wouldn’t bother giving them supplements or the like. From what I can read, the animals get enough of their essentials through the greens and the free range scratching they get.

    After all, think of fully free range chickens or wild poultry: they all eat the same and do fine as well.

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    1. They seem to be doing fine right now. Mostly, they’re free-ranging and getting scraps from the things we’re harvesting from the garden. Apple peels, corn on the cob, squash and cucumbers. All this in addition to the feed and the bugs and grubs and grass in the barn yard.

      The feed right now is a mix of layer feed, the grower/finisher, and scratch grains. Ive been mixing it as equal parts layer & grower/finisher and 1/2-part scratch grain. (by that I mean I mix together 2 scoops of each feed and 1 scoop scratch). They only eat it when they’re in the coop, because the fresh stuff is so much yummier.

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