When to transition to layer feed

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering' started by Ckerr, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. Ckerr

    Ckerr Member

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    My RIR and barred rocks girls are 18 weeks old today. According to the grower chick feed I have they should now start on layer feed. They haven’t laid an egg yet but several are rocking beautiful red combs and wattles. About half of them will do the “squat” when I put my hand over them. I am concerned that starting the layer feed with the extra calcium may be harmful. My oyster shells are also ready to go but again I worried I might cause some damage if I start this before true egg laying.
    Another layer (ha ha) to this situation is 3 (sex linked) girls are 3 weeks younger than he rest(8).
    Seeking your expert advice on how to best transition to big girl food.
    Thanks in advance
     
  2. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    Since you have younger birds, I'm assuming in the same coop, I would put out the oyster shell for the older birds to free choice consume. That's one of the reasons I like the oyster shell on the side, no concerns about mixed ages in the group and I could continue using the same feed forever.
     
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  3. Overmountain1

    Overmountain1 Active Member

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    Perfect timing for this one- I have 3 at 19 weeks and one bantam at 17 weeks, and I had started offering oyster shell a week or so ago, and had thought about switching to layer feed once this was gone. Well, surprise! My silver laced Wyandotte laid her first egg yesterday! What? I thought we’d have at least a couple more weeks but I’m so proud of our girl of course.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Poultry Judge

    Poultry Judge Moderator Staff Member

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    You'll be getting eggs now!
     
  5. Overmountain1

    Overmountain1 Active Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  6. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    That's a good sized first egg.
     
  7. Ckerr

    Ckerr Member

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    Congratulations!!!
     
  8. Overmountain1

    Overmountain1 Active Member

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    Thanks! We were shocked actually- she laid it in the middle of the run, (it’s all grass) and we had all been outside the entire time she/they were in the run, maybe 5 feet away! Didn’t notice anything sounding weird, no egg song as far as I can tell, just a normal swap of flock free time! (Bantam roo & hen vs giant roo flock)
    Silly girl. I could tell who it was immediately tho, and we checked to be sure. We were just talking about adding the nesting boxes that morning- we have to get on it for sure now! We has tried to wait til they wanted them for the right reason etc.
    Ok, to return to the OP ?, as long as they have the oyster shells freely offered etc, the feed doesn’t necc have to be layer feed?
     
  9. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    Nope, I never used layer feed. My birds all stayed on a 20% non medicated feed for their entire lives. I had roosters in with the girls in their pens, I didn't want the roosters forced to eat layer feed since it's reported that it can be hard on the roo's kidneys.
     
  10. Overmountain1

    Overmountain1 Active Member

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    That was exactly the answer I had been looking for, from a reliable source. Thank you! I had been considering the same for our roosters too, but I wasn’t sure if that would be ‘enough’ for the girls too. Thank you!!
    On another note- we got another first egg tonight. After scaring the poop out of me! She started passing yolk and doing the sick chicken thing hiding but just standing w head pulled in and somewhat fluffed up.... I went to get the dog carrier to quarantine her and watch her til we could get to a vet tomorrow morn. On the way home my hubbs calls and tells me he’s pretty sure she just laid another egg too....? Where it was he couldn’t get to. She DID lay another egg after passing yolk 3-4 times first, complete with a new yolk, but incomplete bc it was thin and Not hardened- and split upon exit. But at least we are reasonably sure she is fine bc she started running around all happy again after. Since it was her first egg too, we aren’t putting toooo much stock in this yet. But she is my sons favorite ‘pet chicken’ and I was scared to pieces. Oh these ones definitely keep us guessing! I suppose in future I will start offering oyster shell another week or so earlier! Here’s our second first egg.... or the shell anyway.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeah, that can happen with them when they are just beginning to lay. I would continue watching her though. A ruptured egg can cause issues if she can't expel all of the insides.

    You might have to help her with shell production. I had one that consistently laid soft shelled eggs. I'd dose her with a half cc of Calciboost for goats for a week. Then stop. She was good for a while then I'd have to do it again. As she got older things evened out and I didn't have to dose her anymore.

    Adding D3 to her also helped with calcium absorption.
     
  12. Sylie

    Sylie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    When my girls have soft shelled eggs I crush Tums and sprinkle it on their food, it works well. But right now, don't worry about it, first eggs are often...dumb lol either they are incomplete (no white or no yolk or no shell etc), sometimes they are super tiny, sometimes oddly shaped, it will regulate in time.
     
  13. Overmountain1

    Overmountain1 Active Member

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    Excellent info- thank you!! I hope this is something simple and resolved as she gains more age and experience etc.
    I will definitely be keeping a close close eye on her. We lost a baby chick earlier this week (failure to thrive/genetic issue to my knowledge.)
    I must’ve read for nearly the whole 12 hrs she was sick peep trying to see if there was anything at all I could try (reasonably) that I hadn’t already. I know we did the best we could for her, and being under a week old made it easier to accept than an older one.
    Moo will be watched so closely these next few days she will wish we gave her more space! No not quite, of course, but definitely often. I am relieved that there most likely is not eggshell bits for her to pass or worry about in addition to this part. Poor girl. She’s the most affectionate by a good bit. While she was not feeling good she simply sat in my sons lap. As I say, she’s ‘his pet chicken.’ Unquestionably.
    Thank you again for all the useful info. Truly- it would be 10x as hard to do this without awesome peeps like you on here to help all us noobs out!
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Overmountain1

    Overmountain1 Active Member

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    SHORT update (I swear I’ll try! Ha!)

    Our girl is doing great, and she lay her first ‘good’ egg this evening. It is smaller than our other ‘first’ from the other girl, and it’s a thin but hardened shell, so we are on the right track now at least! Thank you again.
     
  15. robin416

    robin416 Administrator Staff Member

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    That's great. Those first time layers can struggle and as you saw make them feel like crap.
     
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