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Chookie Embra

Feeding young, growing chickens.

I know this is a well-worn topic but I'd be interested in views on this issue: I have some CLBs which are now about 13 weeks old. Seem to be doing well but I'm still feeding chick crumbs + greens and the odd apple. Why? Because I couldn't get chick crumbs in anything but 25k bags. I know some knowlegeable forumites have strong views on this subject- Bodger, for instance- and I would like to know where I should go to from here, given what I've done up till now.Simply chicken growers' pellets? Turkey growers' pellets? Pheasants' pellets, or what? I don't have many birds and I'm happy to do the best by them regardless of cost. And at what age, ideally, should I put them onto layers' rations?
kirstyfern

They should have gone onto growers at 8 weeks old, I gradually mix chick crumb and growers pellets for 1 week.
I then change them over to layers pellets at 16 weeks old, gradually mixing the growers pellets with the layers pellets.
Chookie Embra

Thanks, Kirstyfern, but why? I seem to remember that growers' has less protein than chick crumbs, so am I not actually doing them proud by keeping them longer on the chick crumbs? I may be mistaken but I seem to remember somebody recommending putting them on high protein game bird mix after chick crumbs. I know I should maybe just stick to the book and forget about lily-gilding, but I'm suspicious that the change to growers' may be more to do with economics rather that providing optimum nutrition. Or is this just mince?
Chez

I think that it can be bad for them if they get too much protein too early on. I sometimes feed chick crumb a bit longer than 8 weeks for precisely the reason you are and they do keep growing like mad. But I understand that if they have too much protein when they are 'teenagers' it can mean they come in to lay too early and therefore lay smaller eggs and less well (don't know why less well).

Having said that, I've got a mixed pen of growers and layers and they are all eating layers pellets and rolled peas. The growers are growing, the layers are laying.

I sometimes feed turkey starter crumb rather than chick crumb because it's got more protein and they grow quicker.

That's all rather vague, but I guess I'm working round to concluding it doesn't matter *too* much what you do, within reason.
Castle Farm

Once my birds are feathered up or at least got more feathers than fluff they go on a grain diet, eased in over a week or so from crumbs.

All this fuss about what age birds should be fed growers/layers is total nonsence and has only come about since the onset of commercial feeds for folk that don't know what diet a chicken should eat. Mass produced feed for mass produced poultry.

Chicks at the beginning of life feed on the egg sac and if allowed to roam with the mum would be feed anything the hen could find that was small enough for her brood to eat.

If you drop the protien level all you do is allow that grower to grow naturally at a normal growth rate. They all come good in the end if they are bred correctly.

Stuffing them with a commercial feed high in god alones knows what is what we have all become used to thanks to the poultry experts and feed companies.

Natural feed is best and always has been.

I await posts from keeper who wouldn't dream of feeding anything else but chemically inhanced feed to their birds, but there are other ways of feeding chickens other than pellets.
Chez

Do yours have a lot of ground to forage on, Castle Farm? I found that mine did really well on an adlib diet of wheat and micronised peas when they were free-ranging. But since I have had to pen them and they don't have the space to glean stuff themselves, egg production dropped quite a bit on that diet and I have supplemented again with layers pellets.
Bodger

The problem that I have is that the Wynnstay growers pellets are way too big. Going from chick crumbs to their growers pellets just stops the chicks dead. For some reason the growers pellets are actually bigger than their layers pellets.
Pheasant pellets are way smaller and if you're worried about the protein level being too high ( I'm not sure what they are) then mix them with wheat or mixed grain.
Last year, I ended up putting the growers pellets through a coffee grinder. It certainly made the transition much easier.
Castle Farm

Greens are the answer in any pens. I use lawn mowing and pulled clover for the chicks (as soon as feathers show).

Your egg numbers may have dropped because to confined them. They shoud pick back up unless they start a neck moult.

Sprouted grains are about as good as it gets, but it's a chore if you are busy.
Chez

Thanks, I will try sprouting. I've got the space for some trays in the end of the greenhouse nearest the layers pen. Time is my big issue Sad
Welshy

I feed mine a small amount of veggies, salad leaves, chick peas, bulgur wheat, homemade yoghurt and cheese and home bred mealworms now and again Laughing
Chez

There is NO WAY I am regularly making yoghurt for sixty chickens, despite how funny they look eating it Laughing Laughing Laughing
wizz

I noticed they were selling smaller pellets as a sort of "graduation" feed at the local place when i went to buy our last lot of chuck stuff.
kirstyfern

I think that it can be bad for them if they get too much protein too early on. I sometimes feed chick crumb a bit longer than 8 weeks for precisely the reason you are and they do keep growing like mad. But I understand that if they have too much protein when they are 'teenagers' it can mean they come in to lay too early and therefore lay smaller eggs and less well (don't know why less well).

Having said that, I've got a mixed pen of growers and layers and they are all eating layers pellets and rolled peas. The growers are growing, the layers are laying.

I sometimes feed turkey starter crumb rather than chick crumb because it's got more protein and they grow quicker.

That's all rather vague, but I guess I'm working round to concluding it doesn't matter *too* much what you do, within reason.


I don't like them to grow too quick, I will mix the chick crumbs with growers to use it up but NOT to layers as it contains coccidiostat so you can't eat the eggs.

As I rear 'commercial hybrids' I feed the 'commercial feed' that has been formulated especially for them as 80% of their diet.
I also feed greens / mixed corn / peas and chick / hen grit.
Chez

Worth mentioning at this point that not all chick crumb contains ACS. Our feed store give you the without-kind unless you specifically ask for it.
ninat

Dodson & Horrell chick crumbs don't have ACS, but when I collected a bad of grower from our local feed merchant I noticed that did.
I'm not very keen on them having it TBH so have just bought mixed grains to wean them onto. I like the idea of sprouting them first.
Chez

I lost a batch of month old chicks to cocci early in the season when my Mama bought feed without it whilst I was on holiday - my fault, I didn't explain. Some people don't use it and treat with coxoid instead at first sign of symptoms. It's a difficult one. I was talking to someone who raises hybrids a few months ago - he reckons cocci is becoming ACS resistant, over the last decade or two.
Pel

Dad was feeding his chicks ground layer, but saw signs of one with Cocci and changed to chick crumbs with ACS, that one chick did die.. but he feels gulity for the death as he helped clean its bum and believes he made it sore... and well chicks are still chickens. I'll see what he does when they get to 8 weeks, as he also has a 20kg of chick crumbs for 9 chicks.
Chookie Embra

Thank you for all these interesting contributions to my post. My growers are on grass with a movable hut and run. I've changed today from straight crumb to two thirds crumb and one third mixed grain; I'll gradually move to straight grain. And I bought a bag of grit today- it'll be mixed with the feed. When they're at laying age I'll introduce oyster shell. My hybrids, which are not on grass, I'll keep on layers' pellets plus greens. Talking of greens, I find that all my birds are very fond of what we call up here "sticky wullie" (I guess that's "Adhesive William" if you come from Edinburgh), aka goose grass, and clevers. They also like rose bay willow herb, of which we have no shortage. And I'm going to try Castle Farm's grass clippings. thumbup
Chez

My layers like grass clippings - you've got to be careful they're not squished down so they start fermenting; but apart from that, they are great. I agree re goose-grass. And chickweed - it's called that for a reason Smile
kirstyfern

I lay out grass cuttings to dry a bit before feeding to the chickens, hot, damp, fermenting clippings can lead to impacted crops.
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