by W. Nyamupfukudza
The short answer to the question about raising broilers and layers together is a big fat no. The reason being broilers are chickens that are raised to be slaughtered and eaten, while layers are raised to produce eggs. The challenge with raising broilers and layers together is that their needs are different. A broiler’s purpose is to grow big fast. Your aim is to get a meat bird to slaughter weight in 33 – 35 days. It doesn’t happen by chance though, they get that big because they eat a lot and are bred to grow rapidly. Broilers’ diet must be high in protein.
Therefore, if you free range your broilers so that a large portion of their food comes from forage feeding, you need to make sure they have plenty of protein. Depending on your area and the forage available, you’ll likely need to supplement with commercial feed. For the first 6 weeks, your broilers will need 20% protein and 9% calcium. From 6 weeks to butcher they need 10% protein and 8% calcium. The aim of layer diets is to optimize egg production (in terms of egg numbers, egg size or egg mass). A farmer will need to provide the nutrition required to safeguard health and maintain the desired body weight.
From Week 18, hens start to enter their laying period, reaching peak of lay around 32 weeks of age, and typically maintaining egg production until 65-68 weeks of age. Feed intake will increase to a steady level of 100-105 grams per day and hen body weight will reach a mature level of 1700-1800 grams. If you must keep your flock confined to a run or yard, you’ll be limiting their diet and will therefore definitely need to provide commercial feed.
The concern here is that your layers will not get enough to eat, as the broilers will eat most of it. If possible, it would be best to separate the layers from the broilers. If you must keep the two together, free ranging is probably the best way to raise both broilers and layers. You’ll probably find that your broilers will stay closer to home, lazily eating the food that is close. Your layers will roam a little further. This makes it easier to keep dual purpose chicken breeds that provide both eggs and meat. Allowing you to literally catch birds with one stone