Switch laying hens to a complete chicken layer feed when chickens start laying eggs around 18 weeks of age. Choose a complete layer feed that includes all 38 essential nutrients laying hens need to lay strong and stay strong. Then make the transition gradually over one week.
When you turn 18, you can do a lot of new things. You can vote, buy fireworks and even try your luck with the lottery. The magical number means: welcome to adulthood.
For backyard chickens, the number 18 means the same thing. Laying hens are considered adults at eighteen weeks. Most excitingly, it’s the time when many chicken breeds will start laying eggs. At this key milestone, switch your hens to a chicken layer feed.
This feed switch is an essential step in the road to farm fresh eggs because hens require different nutrients to produce eggs as compared to when they are growing.
To produce an egg each day, hens need high levels of calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Hens transfer many of these nutrients directly into their eggs, so the nutrients in layer feed play an essential role in the eggs hens produce.
Consider the following steps when transitioning to a complete chicken layer feed:
1. Choose a chicken layer feed that matches your goals.
The best chicken feed for layers depends on your flock’s goals. Select a complete layer feed before the transition begins. Ideally, make your layer feed decision by week 16, so you’re ready to make the transition at week 18.
First, look for a complete layer feed. This means the feed should be formulated to provide all 38 unique nutrients laying hens require without a need to supplement.
- Organic hens and eggs: Purina® Organic layer feed
- Added omega-3 in your eggs: Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3
- Strong, healthy hens: Purina® Layena® pellets or crumbles
Each of these chicken layer feeds is made with simple, wholesome ingredients. 16 percent protein, at least 3.25 percent calcium as well as key vitamins and minerals. They also include our exclusive Oyster Strong® System. So everything hens need is included in the bag – no need to supplement.
These are just the essentials, though. Additional ingredients in Purina® complete layer feeds help bring hen health and egg quality to the next level.
A few next-level ingredients to look for include:
- Rich, yellow yolks: Marigold extract
- Strong, protective shells: Oyster Strong® System
- Immune and digestive health: Prebiotics and probiotics
- Vibrant feathering: Essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine
- Omega-rich eggs: Added omega-3 fatty acids
2. Transition to chicken layer feed over one week.
When birds reach 18 weeks old or when the first egg arrives, gradually switch your laying hens to a layer feed. It’s important to make the transition over time to prevent digestive upset.
On the Purina farm in Missouri, they found it’s best to make chicken feed transitions over time rather than all at once. They mix the starter-grower feed and layer feed evenly for four or five days. Birds used to crumbles? Start with a crumble layer feed. The same goes with pellets. The more similar the two chicken feeds are, the more smoothly the transition will go.
Many hens will eat the mixed feed without noticing a difference. When laying hens are eating both feeds, you can stop feeding the starter-grower feed and make the complete switch to all-layer feed. It is important to give your birds enough time to adjust to the new diet. Most birds will adjust within a couple of days but some can take a couple of weeks to fully transition to their new diet.
3. Keep chicken feed consistent.
Once the transition to layer feed is complete, it’s best to maintain a routine.
We recommend providing free choice layer feed to hens and switching out the feed each morning and evening. Laying hens eat approximately 0.25 pounds of complete feed each day, equaling about one-half cup.
If birds are free-ranging, offer complete layer feed before they go out in the morning. This will help them consume the essential nutrients before filling up on less nutritionally balanced insects and plants.
Caring for your poultry is vital, shop Farmer’s Coop for all your poultry feeds. As well as chickens, Farmer’s Cooperative offers a variety of feeds and supplements for your flock. Find chick supplements, Purina Layena, Start & Grow, Scratch Grains, Flock Raiser, Flock Blocks, and Honor Show Chow. We also carry our own house brand of feed called Riverstone. All the nutrition, at a better price point. Don’t see your favorite listed? Give us a call.
In addition to feeds and supplements, your local Farmer’s Cooperative store offers chick and poultry supplies. Find waterers, heaters, chicken coops, and more to keep the flock engaged, sound, and healthy.