Originally Posted by BruceAZ
just curious between the % of protein
most layer feed out there have 16% but for some reason wal-mart has 15%..
some users told me that 15% might not be enough.. but does 1% really make a difference?
Small percentages do make a difference. However, protein is sometimes a comparison of apples to oranges. Amino acids make up protein. Protein % on a feed bag is crude protein, not a comparison of amino acids.
Chickens have at least 11 amino acids that are essential in the diet. Most vegetable based feeds need synthetic lysine and methionine added to make up what's missing in the raw ingredients. A food stuff may be high in protein but still deficient in essential amino acids.
Originally Posted by junebuggena
In addition to what has already been said, I want to throw this out there. You don't need to feed them layer at all. There is no magic ingredient in it that 'makes' them lay. If you like to give your birds treats or free range, layer feed might actually have a detrimental effect on laying. It's got barely enough protein in it for egg production, if fed as the sole source of nutrition. If you offer treats or scratch, that will reduce the overall amount of protein the birds are taking in, and can cause egg eating.
The only caveat is that many BYC types offer fruits, vegetables and scratch as treats which will cut the protein dramatically. They also need to offer meat and fish scraps to supplement animal protein the chickens sorely need.
Originally Posted by Rock Home Isle
All modern studies of poultry nutritional requirements focus on confinement systems as the basis of egg production. Protein is an expensive ingredient in formulating feeds. It's a game of give and take, higher concentrations of protein will yield higher rates of lay, lower percentages result in lower rates of lay.
Backyard chickens have such a varied nutrient stream in their diet that the difference of 1% is not going to have as much impact as that same variance of protein would have for a flock of birds maintained in a confinement system. If the feed is off by a percent or 2, no big deal for backyard chickens, as it will most likely be made up from a different source.
Confinement birds are rigidly maintained to produce the most eggs for lowest amount of feed; 1% loss in protein would have a much more significant impact on the rate of lay.
Very well stated.
Layer feed was developed for those commercial layers and now bagged and sold on the retail market for birds laying eggs. It was decided that about 4% calcium is appropriate for productive birds building egg shells.
Commercial layers usually kick out 5-7 eggs a week for up to 18 months and then butchered.
Backyard chickens aren't always the same age, nor are they on a lighting program. So their egg production will vary from bird to bird. 4% calcium may be too much for a poor layer. It's definitely too much for a bird not laying at all.
Best approach is to provide a calcium source in a separate container.
By all means, feed layer if all your birds are the same age and all productive. If not or if you have roosters, you don't want to feed layer feed.
Edited by ChickenCanoe - 5/26/16 at 8:26pm