Feed for winter?
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.