To keep your chickens healthy and content, as a chicken keeper, it’s crucial to understand their dietary requirements. One question frequently arises is, can a rooster eat layer feed?
If you have a mixed flock, it could be a challenge for feeding roosters away from your chickens. A type of feed designed exclusively for laying hens, layer feed contains a proper amount of nutritional requirements to enhance egg production.
Roosters don’t lay eggs, so what do roosters eat, and can you feed a rooster layer feed? Roosters can eat layer feed, although it’s good to remember that roosters need different nutrition than your laying hens. So, you can find layer feed good, and you can find layer feed bad for roosters in equal measure.
In our guide, you can learn more about roosters eating the same food as your hens and what they need in addition. By the end, you’ll see they can eat layer food, yet they’ll need more food types to maintain stamina and good health. (Read Can Chickens Eat Wolf Spiders)
Can Roosters Eat Layer Feed?
If the adult roosters are housed with chickens that regularly use layer feed, they can consume it. The layer feed does not harm adult roosters in any way. The feed requires all the nutrients they need.
For the purpose of eating layer feed, roosters must be at least 18 weeks old. Grower feed should be given to those who haven’t reached this age to help provide the vital nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
The increased calcium found in layer feed is the reason why young roosters aren’t permitted to feed it. It negatively hurts young roosters. Severe sickness and organ failure may result from it.
You can use layer feed as a mash or pellets to feed your adult roosters. However, the protein content of the layer feed is not exceptionally high. Therefore, you might need to feed the roosters a separate meal of protein-rich pellets.
There is no need to introduce layer feed to your roosters if they are not housed with the hens. They can receive an alternative feed that meets all of their nutritional needs. (Read Why Do Donkeys Hee Haw)
Can I Feed Regular Chickens Layer Feed?
To address their nutritional requirements during this stage, layer feed can be fed to chickens laying eggs. Young chickens should be kept from layer feed, as they are too young to eat the same feed as adults. When they first begin laying eggs, they can only be fed on layer feed.
The feed contains an adequate amount of the vitamins, minerals, protein, and calcium required for the laying hen’s good health and, in particular, for improved egg production and quality.
The high calcium content of the feed enables the hens to lay eggs with robust shells. Two protein percentages are available for the layer feed: 16% and 18%. You can choose the best option for your chickens of both varieties.
Because of its many advantages to layers, the feed is good for laying chickens, but it can have terrible effects on non-laying chickens.
Effects of feeding layer feed to non-laying chickens are:
Because the layer feed was developed with laying chickens in mind, it lacks essential nutrients for their growth and development. Young chickens who feed it take longer to mature.
Young chickens may experience organ failure due to the high calcium content in layer feeds. The kidney and liver are the two organs that fail most frequently. Young chicks may even die from overeating layer pellets.
How To Feed Chickens Layer Feed?
The proper feed impacts the layers’ fertility, egg quality, and health from hatch to productive years. Incorrect feeding at any stage might reduce yield.
- Newly hatched chicks should have a Starter feed until 6 weeks of age.
- When birds are 6 weeks old, switch to grower feed. At 14 weeks, chicks move to developer feeds containing less protein content.
- Once layers are laying eggs, switch grower feed to layer feed. You can also add crushed oyster shells for additional calcium.
- Ensure you provide food at one time during the day for your laying chickens, such as in the morning.
- Offering table scraps, fatty foods, or processed items can harm chickens.
If Roosters Eat Layer Feed, What Happens?
Layer feed helps a laying hen produce enough eggs and strong shells as it is calcium-rich yet low in protein. Roosters can safely eat layer feed; although roosters need protein, calcium in layer feed is also beneficial.
A rooster can eat layer feed with a modest amount of protein and extra calcium. Minerals and vitamins in layer feed help the rooster when he eats it. Besides this, feeding all your chickens one food saves time, energy, and money.
One thing to note is, because of the pecking order, the rooster will always eat first before your hens join in. (Read Can Chickens Eat Chia Seeds)
What To Feed Roosters
You could be wondering what to feed multiple roosters if raising them independently. Since roosters don’t lay eggs, they won’t require layer feed because they won’t require as much calcium or other nutrients that aid in egg-laying.
Therefore, while roosters can eat layer feed, such as layer pellets or a layer seed mix, you can choose to feed your rooster’s flock raiser instead, as this meets the roosters’ dietary needs more.
The term “flock raiser” refers to roosters to raise meat birds and regular backyard roosters. Your roosters can get everything they need with flock raiser, including 18% protein and enough calcium without being excessive.
Of course, if you choose to feed your rooster layer feed, you can still ensure they get all the nutrients they require by adding high-protein snacks or food items such as food scraps to their normal diet at feeding time.
Risks of Feeding Layer Feed to Rooster
Some chicken keepers choose to feed roosters layer feed. As long as they live together, roosters will eat everything you serve to other chickens, and roosters end up scratching for other food, such as bugs and worms, while free ranging.
There are risks associated with feeding layer feed to roosters, even if you might not notice any ill effects.
The top dangers of feeding layer feed as the main part of the rooster’s diet are:
Roosters unlike layer hens, roosters don’t require as much calcium. Calcium toxicity can result from long-time use of layer feed as your rooster food. Young pullets on a high calcium diet can suffer renal injury and kidney stones, or it leads to possible organ failure.
Because eating layer feed provides a lot of calcium, your roosters will develop calcium toxicity after consuming layer feed. Calcium toxicity in roosters can cause cardiovascular failure and increase their risk of passing away.
Kidney or Liver Problems
Roosters eating mainly layer feed can develop renal or liver issues as the ratio of protein to calories in layer feeds is high.
Furthermore, roosters who eat layer feed too often are vulnerable to the fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, which raises the mortality rate of hens, but more roosters.
If a game rooster keeps eating layer food, it offers little to help them grow. Is giving young roosters layer food-wise? It is better to avoid layer feed in your roosters’ diet, or they can face growth problems. A good corn mix can overcome the failings of eating just layer pellets.
Should My Roosters Have Supplements?
Yes, roosters should get vitamins. Free-range roosters need supplements since they can’t acquire enough nutrients from their food. Roosters need vitamins to boost their immune system, metabolism, neurological system, and muscle.
Protein supplements help roosters build muscle; roosters are good for meat, unlike hens. Without enough protein, roosters won’t make good table birds or have the strength to endure the mating ritual as often as they do.
Free-range roosters who eat bugs and worms need protein supplements. So, mix protein supplements into your rooster’s diet to improve protein intake. (Read Barred Rock Vs. Cuckoo Maran)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best feed for roosters?
You can feed your roosters corn, corn mash, rice, garden snails, insects, and most food waste. They adore devouring leafy vegetables like lettuce and cabbage.
How can I fatten up my rooster?
In addition to feeding them rooster-specific feed regularly, you should also provide them with other sugary treats. You can feed them foods high in carbohydrates, such as whole wheat, soy, cracked corn, and others, to help them gain weight.
Can chickens eat layer pellets?
It is not recommended to feed layer pellets to chickens up until the age of 18 weeks. Layer pellets are explicitly made for egg-laying hens that produce eggs and are high in calcium.
Early calcium overdose can cause kidney damage and impair the hens’ capacity to lay eggs.