Meat chickens grow a bit faster compared to egg-laying chicken breeds. The first one takes around 48 days to become fully mature, whereas the second one takes 90 and 100 days to grow fully. But is it a good practice to feed grower feed to currently laying hens?
Can laying chickens eat grower feed? It is necessary to start feeding layer feed once your chickens start laying eggs. You can only feed grower feed to chickens when it has 18% or less protein, and you are giving your hens additional calcium supplements.
Can Laying Chickens Eat Grower Feed?
You can’t entirely depend on grower feed if your female chickens have already started laying eggs.
Laying chickens need layer feed to support their egg production. Layer feed contains around 4% to 5% of calcium. It is necessary to make their eggshells stronger.
For example, if your hen is eating 120 grams of grower feed daily, it must receive 4.8 grams of calcium from the food.
It can be more or less depending on the activity level. Your main aim should be giving your laying hens the ideal nutrition based on what their body needs.
Why Is Layer Feed Necessary For Laying Chickens?
Most chicken keepers start feeding layer feed from 18 weeks, as female chickens are expected to lay eggs soon.
But what is so special about layer feed? Why can’t you continue feeding the grower feed alone? The requirements level of hens is not similar to growing or teenage chickens.
They need a higher level of calcium, vitamins, and minerals to continue egg production. All these nutrients play a crucial role in producing an egg daily.
Chicken owners who regularly want strong and healthy eggs from their laying hens must feed them high-quality layer feed.
If you are only feeding grower feed, it can make the eggshells of your chickens’ eggs a bit soft. As a result, the eggs will be more prone to break easily.
It won’t be hard to store such eggs. You will collect fewer eggs because chickens love to eat cracked eggs once they become used to it. They won’t be suitable for hatching.
Can You Feed Grower Feed To Laying Chickens As A Side Dish?
Yes, you can serve grower feed to laying hens as a side food option. Grower feed contains a bit higher protein than layer feed. It will give them an instant boost.
This is especially necessary for weaker hens that are recovering from an injury.
Besides, it appears a good choice when your hens are highly physically active. Now, the question is how much grower feed to feed as a side food menu, right?
Generally, it should be between 10 to 20 grams. It can be more or less depending on their total body weight and activity levels.
But feeding grower feed is not necessary if they regularly run around your backyard areas.
They are already enjoying various protein-rich foods, such as bugs, insects, worms, flies, ants, etc.
How Many Layers Feed To Feed Per Laying Hen?
A laying chicken needs around 100 grams to 150 grams of layer feed per day. It is approximately 0.25 pounds. They consume approximately 1.5 pounds of layer feed per week.
However, it can be more or less depending on various factors. For example, highly active free-range chickens will need additional 10 to 20 grams of feed if they don’t eat any natural food.
Large or heavy breeds will eat more than smaller birds to gain the same energy intake.
Another factor can be weather conditions. Laying hens have to eat additional food during extreme cold weather conditions to keep themselves warm enough.
How Long To Feed Layer Feed To Chickens?
It is necessary to feed layer feed as long as they lay eggs. Generally, chickens’ egg production in each year as they molt and become older.
But female chooks start laying eggs from six months of age and continue for up to five to ten years. But some may stop giving any eggs after completing three to four years.
They generally produce more eggs during an early age than in older periods.
Female chickens maintain a break during their temporary cessation or molting period. They shed and regrow their feathers.
The session can be anywhere from several weeks to one or two months. It will vary depending on their physical condition, age, breed, and other factors.
During the break, you can feed them a good-quality maintenance feed. But it must have protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals.
What To Feed When Chickens Stop Laying Eggs Permanently?
It is best to avoid feeding layer feed to any older chickens who are not laying any eggs anymore.
Layer feed contains a higher amount of calcium. It can be a calcium overdose that will be toxic for the chicken’s kidneys and liver.
You can feed them Maintenance Feed, which contains a safe amount of calcium.
But if you prefer a more readily available option, all-purpose poultry feed appears to be the best choice.
You can feed them to any age of chickens. However, providing additional food might be necessary.
For instance, laying hens will need oyster shells to fulfill their calcium requirements. Likewise, chicks will need chick-sized grit to absorb all-purpose poultry feed effortlessly.
How To Transit From Grower Feed To Layer Feed?
Have you thought of introducing layer feed to your chickens suddenly without any grow feed aside? Don’t do this. Your female chooks may not eat them at all.
It is best to shift to layer feed gradually. Keep the proportion of layer feed low initially. Then, increase the amount slowly.
Don’t mix both feeds together. Keep both separately in different containers as a free choice. This will help them to eat freely.
It may take 10 to 14 days to make them get used to the new layer feed. Monitor their eating behavior and adjust the feeding requirement accordingly.
The following table shows a simple approach to introduce layer feed slowly within ten days.
|Days||Grower Feed||Layer feed|
|First and Second Day||80%||20%|
|Third and Fourth Day||60%||40%|
|Fifth and Sixth Day||40%||60%|
|Seventh and Eighth Day||20%||80%|
|Ninth and Tenth Day||0%||100%|
Do You Need To Feed Layer Feed If Laying Hens Eat Oyster Shells?
The shells of oysters contain around 96% of calcium carbonate. Unfortunately, when they are processed and sold commercially in the market, calcium level drops to 38% calcium.
Oyster shells contain a good amount of calcium. It appears an excellent choice to feed laying hens to supply a good amount of calcium.
However, it is still not the best alternative to layer feed as it contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Besides, if you want to feed oyster shells and avoid layer feed, you must feed them maintenance or all-purpose poultry feed. This will cost additional money.
But if layer feed is not available in your area, you can feed them oyster shells. Make sure your female chickens are getting 4-5 grams of calcium daily from their food.
How Much Protein A Layer Feed Must Contain?
Layer feed contains a bit less protein than chick starters and grower feed. Grower feed has 16% to 18% of protein, whereas layer feed has 14% to 16% protein.
Make sure not to choose any layer feed that contains less than 14% protein. It is necessary for egg production, maintaining a balanced body weight, and ensuring regular body functions.
If the layer feed doesn’t provide enough protein, you can feed them some protein-rich food, such as bugs, insects, ticks, grasshoppers, crickets, flies, etc.
How Much Calcium A Layer Feed Must Contain?
Choose a layer feed that contains 4.5% to 5% calcium. It is necessary to ensure consistent egg production in the long run.
More importantly, it will help hens to produce healthy eggs with strong and thick shells.
If the layer feed fails to provide enough calcium, you can give hens crushed oyster shells.
When unavailable, chicken owners can serve crushed eggshells, crushed limestone, fresh fish, milk, or organ meat. But it must be entirely safe.
If these options are unavailable, you can feed them some vegetable scraps, such as cabbage leaves, broccoli leaves, cucumber leaves, etc.
Does A Layer Feed Need To Have Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to produce better-quality eggs and meat.
Many brands add one or several sources of omega-3 fatty acids in layer feed, such as fish oils, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnut oils, etc.
This special ingredient can help to lay chickens and bring their eggs to the next level.
If you want to enjoy omega-3 fatty acids from your chicken eggs, you can feed layer feed that contains omega-3 fatty acids.
It can increase omega-3 fatty acids content in their eggs by six to eight times.
You can also feed your feathered friends natural foods, such as nuts, fish, and green, leafy vegetables.
All chicken owners love to eat healthy, nutritious, and fresh eggs from their hens. But we know the proverb, “You get what to pay for.”
Unless you give your laying hens good quality and the right food, expecting continuous egg production is not a wise choice.
Grower feed must be fed until 18 weeks or when your chickens start laying eggs. Laying eggs need a higher amount of calcium that can’t be fulfilled by grower feed.
Make sure to check out the product label carefully and talk with a certified veterinarian if your chickens have any health issues. Now, you know, “Can laying chickens eat grower feed?”