Animal or Vegetable Protein?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by QuillPen, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. QuillPen

    QuillPen In the Brooder

    Jan 23, 2008
    West Virginia
    I will hopefully be getting my chicks this spring so I'm trying to get my ducks in a row. Now I'm thinking about feed.

    Is it better to give them feed with animal protein?

    I tend to gravitate to the Purina poultry feeds just because all of our other animals have mostly been fed Purina feeds over the years--its just a name I'm familiar with. I know the Layena has vegetable protein.

    Since chickens are omnivors, I'm not sure I want to cut out one of their food groups. I just want to do what is healthiest for them. Should I add some type of animal protein if I feed Layena even though it's a complete feed?

    They will be in a run most of the day and will free-range for a few hours daily, so they will get bugs and possibly a crawdad or two.

    Also, I think Purina's chick feed is also a grower. Is this really ok? I thought during the grower stage, chickens got a different level of protein.

    Thanks for the advice.
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    The Purina Layena is certified vegetarian. I have a few customers that are freaked out by hens eating meat, so I can reassure them their feed is vegetarian. Now, I entirely agree that chickens are omnivores. So, sometimes our 'pig bucket' accidentally lands in the chicken pen instead of the pig pen. There will be scraps of meat in it... and as long as it's not chicken they're eating, I think I'm doing a good thing.

    We do have a few roaming roosters that really like to get into the outdoor catfood, which of course is chicken & rice. It creeps me out to no end and I will not be eating them when their breeding life is over. But, that could just be a me thing.

    Finally, the Purina starter is also a grower, but is very high protein. After 2 months, you may want to mix it 2/3 to 1/3 with cracked corn as a ghetto pullet developer.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I think animal protein is good for them as animal proteins have slightly different concentrations and types of amino acids in it when compared to plant proteins. If amino acids are supplemented via human synthesized ones, only the L isoform can be used, and thus often, the "real" protein that can be used is only half of what is "measured."
  4. Picco

    Picco Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Free ranging chickens get a lot of their protein from insects, worms and even small animals and this is very important, especially when moulting or producing eggs. I think having an all vegetarian feed could lead to feather picking as they may become defiecient in some amino acids. If they are free range birds however there really isn't a problem since they can get some protein on their own but winter could be a problem. The problem with animal protein in chicken feed is that you never know where it comes from. This tends to freak me out a bit since it could come from from a nasty source. You could always add a little animal protein to their diet yourself.
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Most feeds I use that still contain animal protein say the protein source is not from ruminants. One or two say they are from porcine products, so you do have some idea where they come from much of the time. I on purpose seek out and use feeds that still contain animal protein; thank goodness, I still have a couple available to me. What's good for humans isn't necessarily good for chickens. I think the trend toward vegetarian feeds has led to many problems we didn't anticipate, such as increased picking/cannibalism, etc. JMO. This does not mean that Purina Sunfresh feeds are not decent quality feeds; they are. My original girls were raised on Purina Starter/Grower, but they always got chopped hardboiled egg for animal protein and they thrived.
  6. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    I personally think that, like Silkiechicken says, they need the amino acids from meat protein. I think our girls have a proteiin/amino acid deficiency this winter, since they're not eating bugs/worms/slugs. Their layer feed (Blue Seal Organic) has balanced protein but it does not seem to be enough. They go nutso over any meat & fish scraps I give them. I do give them poultry scraps as well. How is that any different than eggs, really? I'm pretty sure that in the wild they'd eat a bird carcass they came upon..... Of course all of the meat we eat is organic, so I know they're not getting the hormones/antibiotics/other garbage that might be in conventionally-raised feedlot meats. We also supplement with Avia Charge 2000 in the water, which adds amino acids.

    I suspect I will be able to diminish the meat scraps as soon as they're out eating bugs again in springtime.....

    Just my 2 cents....
  7. QuillPen

    QuillPen In the Brooder

    Jan 23, 2008
    West Virginia
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I haven't read lables yet--is animal protein in feed that hard to find now? It's been almost 10 years since I've had chickens so I'm not really familiar with feed contents.

    I don't have a problem with my girls eating animal protein. I know a lot of people do. I just want to do what's best.

    Picco: What kind of animal protein would you suggest?

    speckledhen: How many eggs would you feed and how often? Did you feed the eggs only to your chicks? I hope to have just four.

    SeaChick: Do you add the Avia Charge 2000 daily regardless of conditions or only when it's hot, very cold or when they are moulting?

    Can they get too much amino acids?
  8. The animal protein used most in chicken feeds is Porcine Meat and Bone Meal. Practically all commercial feed mills stopped using ruminant meatn and bone meal when the FDA banned its use in ruminant diets. Typically the levels of soybean meal and meat and bone meal in these diets are given minimum and maximum values in the computer programs that control the diets. This allows for "best costing" of the diets within the parameters given for the feeds. In some cases there may be fish meal used as a protein source, but that will more than likely be commodity grade fish meal and not Special Select Menhaden Fish Meal as that is more expensive and is used in higher value feeds such as swine nuresery feeds and dairy rations. Egg Protein either as, hatchery waste or human grade egg, are reserved for high value feeds like swine nursery diets.

    I agree that animal proteins are good sources of proteins in chicken and swine rations, but synthetic amino acids also offer very good nutrition and that this time help minimize cost due to the extremem price differential between whole proteins (soybean meal) and the individual amino acids.

  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    speckledhen: How many eggs would you feed and how often? Did you feed the eggs only to your chicks? I hope to have just four.

    I usually feed them chopped hardboiled egg at least every other day in the brooder, only a few TBSPs for the number you mentioned. When I have extra eggs, I boil them, mash them up, and put them in a bowl in the fridge. Then when I need some, I just microwave them to get the chill off and feed it to the little ones in a mayo jar lid then later a bowl as they get bigger. It's a great way to make them friendly if you put the egg in the palm of your hand.​
  10. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    I have been using Avia Charge daily since the feather-pecking/eating began. It's not expensive with my 6 chickens, and I feel it's helping both to supplement the amino acids, as an overall "tonic" in this cold weather, and to help the bare chicken regrow her feathers. I'm using the lowest recommended amount (1 tsp per gallon) or a little less, so I am not concerned about overdoing it.

    I will probably discontinue using it whan spring comes. But I may not... I've been very happy with it!

    I don't feel it's something that would really cause problems. It's not chemicals; its seaweed, fish oil, aloe vera, lactobacillus/bacillus, and garlic..... these ingredients appeal to me. It cost $19 for the small far which should probably last me a year with my 6 girls, even if I use it all the time!

    Here's M/M's catalog description: (although I ordered it directly from Stromberg's, not sure who actually makes it)
    This All Natural trace mineral supplement is the key to animal health. It stops pecking, and improves feather durability and color, just to name a few of the benefits your birds will gain by having Avia Charge. This performance enhancer contains 70+ naturally chelated minerals, 23 vitamins & antioxidants, 22 essential amino acids, enzymes, and body & blood building nutrients. Great product for those who have laying birds and want to keep their maximum laying ability up or those of you who show your birds and want them to look their best. Everyone gains from a healthy flock and this is a way you can help insure your flock will be healthy. This water soluble powder is good for chickens, pigeons, ducks, geese, gamebirds, etc.​
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2008

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