There’s no doubt laying hens, and meat chickens have very different needs. The female laying hen needs appropriate space to lay her eggs. In opposition, the meat chickens have a special diet, which isn’t ideal for laying hens to eat for their egg-laying purposes accidentally.
However, some claim that they get along just fine without any problems.
So, Can Laying Hens and Meat Chickens Live Together?
Broiler chickens and laying hens should not live together in terms of risk factors of sharing the same diet. If the hens eat the meat chicken’s food, they will gain weight from the fatty food designed for the chicken. Furthermore, meat chickens are supposed to eat a lot of food and will feed on the hen’s supply of food – leaving little to no food left for the hens.
However, if need be, the research will cure your curiosity about whether to keep them together and arrange certain resources for the animals to do so.
Do Meat Chickens Lay Eggs?
Sadly, broiler chickens do not live long enough to reach an age to lay eggs. In some cases, if you manage to get a meat chicken to lay eggs, they will not breed well.
In an owner’s experience, these chickens grow fast and eat a lot of protein, as it is not their purpose to lay eggs. So, they aren’t the best flock to lay eggs as opposed to laying hens.
As meat chickens are typically slaughtered for meat purposes, it’s best to feed them separately from laying hens to not interfere with their rapid growth, and the development comes directly from what you feed them.
Can you Overfeed Meat Chickens?
They require more protein in their food. So, it would be best if you fed them in a way where the meat chickens cannot impede the laying hens from eating enough food.
To prevent meat chickens from overeating or stealing the layers of food, scatter several feeders around the pen. This will ensure that each breed can eat at the same time, in their correct diet.
By only using two feeders, the food can easily get mixed up, as chickens are not. trained to know which one is theirs, and most likely will not have enough of their own food to eat.
This is also a reason why it’s not a good idea to put them together in the same living space.
Meat chickens eat about 1/2 cup (4 ounces/1/4 lb) of feed a day, and they won’t necessarily overeat once they’re full. But, take precautions as they will snack on other foods that are not the proper nutritional diet and will become less healthy if tempted.
What’s the Difference Between Meat Chickens and Laying Hens?
Meat chickens are typically bred for the sole purpose of meat. They are slaughtered to create the chickens you see or buy in grocery stores.
Usually, the meat chickens are slaughtered at a young age, so they need to be fed and muscled up enough to live if they were not processed at 16-20 weeks of age.
A laying hen is a term described as a full-grown female hen to be raised to lay eggs. The lifespan of a laying hen will range around five to seven years, and lay eggs nearly daily for about three of those years.
However, some hens that no longer lay properly are a considerable factor in feeding them, thus reducing the need to separate the chicken breeds.
Why You Shouldn’t Put Hens and Meat Chickens Together
An owner shared her experience of holding laying hens and meat chickens together. The meat chickens or “meaties” (as some people refer to them as) have a different diet than the lay hens or “layers” (another nickname for reference) as the lay hens could accidentally eat their food.
This could lead to further consequences of gaining unnecessary weight full of fat that can worsen the hen’s health and interrupt the nutritional process.
The owner made a small chicken tractor cage made out of wood, a chicken wire, and plastic roofing for the meat chickens to prevent consequences.
A laying hen must be fed the proper food to have enough nutrition to keep the hen producing eggs.
Here is a video describing how to feed laying hens properly.
The layers feed should provide a balanced diet with some protein and approximately 3 1/2 percent calcium to increase eggshells’ strength.
Calcium deficiencies may result in thin eggshells and risk hens to develop leg issues, so you could ideally feed them any oyster shell for maximum calcium intake.
If you’re raising broilers, their diet must be high in protein. All chicks need a high-quality starter grower feed to ensure proper development. Once they reach 18 weeks of age, you can swith your flock of layers and non-layer feed.
Broilers need to consume a finisher diet until they reach slaughter size.
If a broiler chicken eats this food, the hens won’t be nutritional enough to produce healthy eggs.
While it’s possible to keep most chickens together, if you’re raising broilers to sell for the meat, they should be kept apart from your regular backyard chickens.
Can Layers, Broilders and Growers Be Kept In The Same Poultry House?
You need a coop for your chickens, the same as laying hens – so in terms of shelter, unless there is a sealed wall to keep them separated, they shouldn’t be kept in the same coop.
If you do have to keep them together because of lack of space, free-ranging will be the best option to raise both layers and broilers. You’ll notice the broilers will stay closer to home as they are lazier and will forage for food close to home. At times it seems like these chickens will eat till they die, because that’s all they do.
The layers will tend to wander away further, but they will still be able to find their way home.
If you first buy them as one-day-old chicks, as most owners do, the baby chicks require a good amount of care and resources. So mixing them with baby lay hens or grown is not the best idea during their growing stage and in general.
They also need a brooder area and a heat lamp to keep them warm. All chicks will require supplementary heat until they fully feathered, which is around six weeks of age.
A lot of owners raise meat chickens during the warmer months, usually in the summer, so they can be raised in temporary shelters, such as tarps to protect them from rain or wind.
Given the circumstances of their differing needs and diets, it’s ideally not good to pair them together in a living space. If you have to, it’s best to separate them with a dividing object or scatter their foods in different corners for the right nutrition.
To ease your worry, set up separate areas for your farm animals, so you don’t have to worry about feeding the wrong chicken feed to the wrong chickens.
Feeding the wrong food or insufficient food can pose potential threats to their growth.