Can Rooster Eat Layer Feed? Is layer feed Bad For Chickens?

Layer feed is a specially designed feed for laying chickens, containing all the necessary nutrients in required amounts for them. Therefore, the keepers are often advised to keep layer feed for the hens. 

The only thing that concerns most of the keepers about doing so is whether the feed will be good for other non-laying chickens and roosters or not. 

Their concern is quite appropriate as these feathered creatures like to feed together and therefore, it can be very difficult to feed roosters and non-laying chickens separately.

When I introduced a rooster to my flock, I was skeptical about the same. After spending a few hours on the research, I was quite clear about what food-wise will be better for my flock.

To help you clear your doubts regarding the layer feed and whether it’s good for roosters and chickens, below I have compiled all the information that I got from the research and my experience.

Related Read: Do Chickens Eat Worms? Is It OK To Feed Your Chickens With Worms?

Can roosters eat layer feed? 

The adult roosters can eat layer feed if they are living with chickens who are fed layer feed as their normal diet. The layer feed does not have any harmful effects on adult roosters. They get all the required nutrients from the feed. 

The roosters with at least 18 weeks of age are considered suitable for eating layer feed. Those who haven’t reached this age should be fed with grower feed which will help in providing the essential nutrients required for their proper growth and development.

The reason why the young roosters aren’t allowed to feed on layer feed is because of the additional calcium present in it. It has a harmful effect on young roosters. It can cause serious illness and organ failure.

You can feed your adult roosters with layer feed in the form of mash or pellets. However, the layer feed does not have a large percentage of protein. So, you may need to feed the roosters with some protein-rich pellets separately.  

If your roosters aren’t living along with the hens, then there is no requirement of introducing layer feed to them. You can provide them an alternative feed that covers all their nutrient requirements. 

Related Read: Do Roosters Have Spurs? (or) Are They On Chickens And Hens?

Can I feed my chickens layer feed?

Chickens that are laying eggs can be fed on layer feed to meet their nutritional needs during this phase. However, the young chickens should be kept away from the layer feed. They can only be fed on the layer feed when they start laying eggs.

The feed has a suitable proportion of vitamins, minerals, protein, and calcium that are required for the laying chicken’s good health and especially, for enhanced egg production and quality. 

The high amount of calcium present in the feed helps the hens to produce eggs with strong shells. The layer feed is available in two percentages of protein; 16% and 18%. You may select the appropriate one for your chickens of both kinds. 

The feed is good for laying chickens because of the various benefits it provides to the layers but for non-laying chicks, the effects of the layer feed can be dreadful. 

Related Read: What To Feed Chickens Raised For Meat?

Effects of feeding layer feed to non-laying chickens are:

Delayed Development

The layer feed is formulated by keeping laying chickens in mind, thus, they do not have essential nutrients for growth and development purposes. When young chickens feed on it, their maturity is delayed.  

Organ failures

The high amount of calcium in layer feeds can cause organ failures in young chickens. The most common organs that fail are the kidney and liver. The overdose of the layer pellets may even cause the death of young chicks. 

When should I start giving my chickens layer feed? At what age?

You should give your chickens layer feed when they reach the age of at least 20 weeks or begin laying eggs. When the hens become completely mature, one can switch their diet to the layer feed.

How do you feed chicken layers?

The layers should be fed with proper feed from their hatch until their productive years as the feed directly affects the fertility, quality of eggs, and layers’ health. Improper feeding at any phase can lead to poor productivity.  

The important points for feeding the layer chickens are:

  • Newly hatched chicks should be fed with Starter feeds until they reach 6 weeks of age. The starter feed provides the right amount of nutrition necessary for fast growth. Make sure that the feeds contain at least 18 to 20 percent of protein.
  • When the birds become 6 weeks old, switch their diet to grower feeds. They must contain at least 15 to 16 percent of protein. After reaching 14 weeks, the chicks should be provided with developer feeds that have a little less protein content.
  • Once the layers begin laying eggs, you can switch their grower feed with layer feed.  You can provide additional calcium to the chickens through oyster shells. It will help in increasing the shell quality and strength. 
  • Make sure that you provide all the food at one time to the laying chickens, most preferably at the starting of the day.
  • Providing large amounts of table scraps can be harmful to the chickens.


Both the chickens and roosters must be fed with a proper diet having all the necessary nutrients in the right amount.

The laying chickens will not have any issues in eating layer feed but the young members shouldn’t be involved with them. The chickens’ feed should be selected according to their age and type.