Once the chicks reach 6 weeks of age, you can switch them to a high protein grower mash. Once the birds reach 5 to 6 months of age, they are considered to be of laying age. Laying hens should be fed a layer feed in addition to whatever food they forage, as well as any other supplements or appropriate treats you may be providing.
Often a challenge occurs when the chicks are old enough to be combined with the older hens. In addition to taking the usual precautions when introducing the new birds into the existing flock, it is not uncommon to find the older hens prefer to eat the higher protein grower feed.
The simplest solution is to simply allow the older hens to consume the grower feed along with the younger hens. The older hens enjoy it and the younger hens are guaranteed to still received the health benefits from the high protein levels in the starter feed. On the other hand, layer feed can be harmful to the younger hens because it does not contain all the necessary nutrients.
To compensate for the lower levels of calcium in the layer feed, place some oyster shell or egg shells from hard boiled eggs in with the hens. Once your hens all reach laying age, you can switch them all back to the layer feed.