1) What are the best ways to increase protein when adding carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or turnips? In the "old" days per my old 1942 book on keeping poultry on scraps, where they were dealing with wartime rationing, there was a lot of fish scraps being cooked into submission and mixed with mash (don't really want to do that). Does one maybe switch to a game bird ration for a period time? Other supplement?
2) Unrelated question, probably answered here before but I can't seem to recall details - meat production data is straight-forward - you can weigh each bird. But what is the best way to track egg production (including beginning to lay again after moult) without trap nests? (I know you can track how long they are in mount and check pelvic spread, etc., but I figured the proof is in the eggs.) Perhaps if you have a sense of who lays what kind of egg, and the colors are different in a given coop? I saw a photo of a coop (sort of a "glamour shot," really), and there was this cute chalkboard with egg talley's for each (named) hen. I found myself asking "How on earth do they know?" The photo implied that each hen had her own nest (which doesn't really happen). It bugged me, and made me want to ask here again.
- Ant Farm
Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes are in the 1%-2% protein range. Check that, but I believe it is that low. To have a 18% ration, a 36% food item is needed equally. Soybean meal is that high, but it is not complete.
You mentioned fish scraps, and that is an option if limited (so your eggs do not taste like fish). Purchasing fish food is an option. It is in the 36% - 42% range. Get floating feed for fingerlings etc.
I tend to view these root crops as supplements themselves, so it does not require much if anything. I tend to feed higher than I need, but it is easy to spend more than we need.
Older breeders, or others during periods of maintenance (like winter) can be fed a 14% ration and be fine. You just have to bring them back into condition before you breed them.
The best way (and there is no equal) to track laying production is to count eggs. Simply marking them on the calendar and totaling them getting small pen averages. Kept in small pens (we all do), we can use the other methods to HELP us identify the poorest layers, and remove them. The average will improve drastically by removing these. When we know them like this, we do tend to identify the best layers. Not with precision but the best in general. If laying was a primary focus, you would want to breed from their sons. Then prove these sons by trying different males on the same pens and evaluating their offspring over an entire laying cycle.
You cannot beat trap nests. The best selection point is the one closest and most directly related to the desired result. The pullet that laid the most eggs from point of lay until the molt is the best layer. There is no disputing that if her eggs were comparable to the others in quality and size, and her health was equal.
Selecting layers for physical traits gives them potential, capacity, and encourages health and longevity.
And for what you are doing, you will need a good set of scales.
Edited by gjensen - 10/21/15 at 9:11pm