Every animal goes through different growth phases. For egg-laying chickens, there are three main phases: chick, pullet, and layer. We stress the importance of feeding the right feed at the right time. In this 3 part series, we discuss the differences between our NCO Starter, Grower/Broiler, and Layer feeds.
Now that your birds are nearing 16 weeks of age or have just begun laying, which Layer feed is the best option for your flock? Here are some basic questions to consider before choosing the next feed:
- Where do you live? Are you in the South or West with hot weather almost year round? Or are you in the North, Northeast, or Midwest with temperamental weather conditions and really cold winters?
- Do you like to ferment feed prior to feeding it to your flock?
- Do you, the handler of the feed, have wheat or gluten sensitivity?
We offer four varieties of layer feed: Classic Grind, Corn-Free, Wheat-Free, and Whole Grain. All are formulated with 17% protein, 2% fat, and 8% fiber and are supplemented with kelp, organic alfalfa, and Poultry NutriBalancer. These feeds are also formulated with additional calcium for egg-shell strength and flaxseed to increase the omega-3 content of the eggs.
For those living in hotter climates, we recommend feeding our Corn-Free Layer feed. Corn is a high-energy starch feed ingredient that also promotes heat of digestion. In hotter climates, birds do not require as much energy and therefore do not need corn in their diet. For those living in colder climates or areas with noticeable changing seasons, our Classic Grind Layer feed is a better option and can be fed year-round. This formulation does contain corn.
Many of our customers make fermented products for their animals as well as for themselves. Fermentation is often used to preserve and enhance many food products. The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods provide a healthy balance to gut flora and improve overall digestion and absorption of nutrients. For fermentation, we recommend using our Whole Grain Layer feed. This feed is the same formulation as the Classic Grind Layer feed but the grains are in whole form rather than partially ground. While some customers still choose to feed the Whole Grain without fermenting it, the whole pieces may be more difficult for smaller birds to consume and digest properly. This formulation is also ideal for sprouting.
Some of our customers with Celiac Disease or gluten-sensitivity have asked about an organic, gluten-free poultry feed. While we can’t certify a product as gluten-free due to our other feeds being processed on the same equipment, we make a Wheat-Free Layer feed that is also free of barley and rye. We do not claim that this feed is gluten free, but it is made without the known gluten-containing grains. Many of our customers with gluten allergy or sensitivity have found this feed to be easier for them to handle and be around while caring for their flocks.
Whichever Layer feed you choose, your hens will remain on this feed from the age of 16 weeks throughout the rest of their lives. If you have any further questions about which feed to give your flock, please contact our Sales Team at 540-469-0694 and we would be glad to assist you.