Feed for win­ter?

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QI have a few Or­p­ing­tons who moult and stop lay­ing around Oc­to­ber, not lay­ing again un­til March. They’re nor­mally fed lay­ers’ pel­lets. Should I swap them to grow­ers’ pel­lets over win­ter for the ex­tra protein and re­duced cal­cium?

AAnne Perdeuax says: Man­u­fac­tured feeds are care­fully for­mu­lated to meet the vary­ing re­quire­ments of chick­ens, ac­cord­ing to their age and in­tended pur­pose. Grow­ers’ pel­lets are de­signed for young birds dur­ing the tran­si­tional pe­riod be­tween chicks and ma­tu­rity. Once pul­lets are ready to start lay­ing, they need lay­ers’ pel­lets to pro­vide the ex­tra cal­cium they now re­quire. While giv­ing lay­ers’ feeds to im­ma­ture pul­lets can cause de­vel­op­men­tal prob­lems, grow­ers’ pel­lets some­times con­tain an anti-coc­cid­io­stat, usu­ally en­tail­ing an egg­with­drawal pe­riod if they are eaten by lay­ing hens. So it’s im­por­tant to en­sure chick­ens are al­ways given the cor­rect feed. The protein con­tained in both lay­ers’ and grow­ers’ feeds is gen­er­ally around 16%, so your hens wouldn’t ben­e­fit from be­ing fed grow­ers’ pel­lets, but they could suf­fer from the lack of cal­cium. This may also af­fect their re­turn to lay in the spring. Breeder/show pel­lets tend to con­tain more protein, and you could con­sider chang­ing to th­ese if nec­es­sary, but if your Or­p­ing­tons are thriv­ing on their cur­rent ra­tions there seems lit­tle point in up­set­ting them with a change. You might try feed­ing a sup­ple­ment dur­ing the win­ter – sea­weed is good for help­ing hens to re-feather.

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