Posted 10-29-2002 at 04:23:07
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Hi Ray, couple of suggesions I'd offer are:
Buy "started pullets" if you can find them in your area...these will be this year's half-grown chicks and will probably already have started laying a little bit (they'll be small and probably misshapen eggs at first, but that's ok). Older hens won't lay much or at all in the late fall/winter.
I don't use any "additives" in water or feed and don't see the need for them.
I feed free choice: a good "layer ration" once they're 20 weeks old (I use Purina's Layena, but there's others), ground oyster shells, lots of clean water.
We (the wife, actually) also give them a scoop of scratch grain in the morning and again in the evening...the hens and the wife love it.
We also feed them kitchen scraps...no meats or eggs, but they do get old bread, vegetable peelings or leftovers, excess or sour milk (our goats usually produce more than we can use and the hens love it). We also avoid feeding strong-tasting stuff like onions 'cuz we've been told they'll make the eggs taste funny...might not be true, but why take the chance?
anyway, that's how we do it and we've had pretty good luck over the years.