BREEDING FOR PRODUCTION...EGGS AND OR MEAT.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hellbender, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. bnjrob

    bnjrob Overrun With Chickens

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    LOL - I am always thinking that very thing - why is it that many people I talk to have chickens that get egg bound, or get sick, have crop problems ,etc. and ours are fine?

    Had one lady buy some of my *cull* pullets last year and she was just thrilled at how healthy they were. Said that she has bought chickens in the past that the owners claimed were so healthy, but they really weren't. Half of our chickens are in completely open air housing and even they are in excellent health despite sub freezing temperatures in winter and hotter than hell temperature in summer, while the people with expensive coops who keep their chickens inside when it is cold or wet outside, have sickly chickens.

    A friend of mine who lives in Maine has one of my birds. She sent me photos a few weeks ago to show me the hen out in the ice cold and snow digging around while her other breeds were hiding in the barn. And that hen was also laying this winter when the other breeds she has were not. I figure we must raise some decent birds if they can go from the humid Texas heat of summer to the icy cold of a Maine winter and still thrive.
     
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  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I think that would be the difference between a managed flock and one that is not managed. Today's trend is that more~ and higher protein~ food equals good flock care and nothing could be further from the truth.

    A chicken can only process so much protein before organ failure sets in, just like in a human, but far faster....they are just not equipped to ingest high proteins on a daily basis for any length of time. The high protein they receive out on free range in the form of bugs, grubs, lizards, snakes, etc. is combined with a lot of crude fiber as well, so it balances out. No one seems to care about balance any longer.
     
  3. bnjrob

    bnjrob Overrun With Chickens

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    Finding the right protein balance has been one of the more difficult things for us. Trying to have a truly dual-purpose bird that can put on muscle to be eaten, but not getting it too high so they build up too much internal fat has been challenging. We think we have a good system going now, but with our original birds, we fed them higher protein for longer periods and they had more fat on them when we butchered that we have not been seeing for the last couple of years since we changed up the feed.
     
  4. Beer can

    Beer can True BYC Addict

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    How much protein is too much? I have access to a lot of free protein, and was going to lower their feed, and raise the protein, to save $ but keep hearing they just poop it out if it is to much, and now I hear it can be harmful??
     
  5. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    That makes a little more sense, though I have never had reproductive issues do to too much fat. I do not have too much fat on my hens, so maybe that is why. Earlier on before I learned to handle them, I might have had some hens with too much fat, and not known it. I free feed my birds, but they are allowed to range most days at least. I think it is more likely in birds that are fed poorly balanced rations in confinement.

    I have a few hens or pullets prolapse through the years. More earlier on with commercial layers than sense then, and they were usually pullets. It seams that every now and then, you get one that seams susceptible. I have had a couple egg bound hens to. Again, more with the commercial layers early on. I can probably think of a few of each over a couple decades so it is at least rare.

    I shouldn't have commented. Now I will have two of each this year.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Regular, balanced poultry feeds are a good guide as to what is considered a balanced nutrition for poultry. Excessive levels of protein can put too much stress on heart, liver and kidneys as they all try to filter the excess from the blood. High protein foods are normally consumed by animals and humans putting forth increased muscle activity, such as race horses, hunt or herding dogs, body builders and professional athletes~and only during times when they are training, working, etc. Unless your chickens are out there doing marathons, their muscles are not going to utilize those proteins and they've gotta go somewhere.

    Along with an increase in protein, livestock feeds are normally increased in, carbs, calcium and phosphorus, as well as crude fiber. All these things can help the animal better utilize the proteins they are eating. One little known fact is that a high protein diet can actually leach the calcium and phosphorus from the bone in an attempt to balance out things at a cellular level. A high protein diet in chickens can cause kidney failure, fatty liver disease and cardiac problems just like it can in a human, so keeping the protein at recommended levels is the safest route. Some people increase proteins to their flock in preparation for a show or to finish birds for eating, but it's not a part of their daily nutrition throughout their lives.

    That balance of nutrients is why livestock, including chickens, shouldn't be fed straight brewers or distillers grains, which can have protein levels of 24-34% depending on the grains used. It would be a lovely thing if we could just dump some proteins in an animal to get a bigger animal at a faster rate, or increase laying to a high production, but it's just not that simple.
     
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  7. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    It is difficult to define, but many get excessive.

    Early on, and feathering in, they can utilize more obviously. A 18-20% ration is good in most cases, but if 25% of their feed is 12% grass and weed seeds, you could consider a little more. Maybe 24%. You will not hurt most breeds feeding 24% from hatch until finish, but it is not likely they will be utilizing all of it towards finish.

    There is not advantage to "pushing" pullets, and only disadvantages. I feed them 20% from start until finish. They are free ranged though. If they were not, I might cut the feed with some oats etc. in their later stages.

    I am of the opinion that our larger soft feathered pure breeds could use a little more than some others. Particularly if we are concerned with feather quality etc.
    Breeder rations for chickens is in the 18-20% range. Usually around 18%. It is not there for no reason. Breeders should be in prime condition.

    For my NHs cockerels 24% until 8wks. 20% until finish. In maintenance about 17-18%. Molt goes back to 20%, and breeding 20%.
    Pullets 20%, put on grass at 6-8wks, and until finish and throughout their lives.
    My Catalanas stay at 20% throughout, except cocks in maintenance. The 17-18%. Cocks or cockerels with hens or pullets eat the same ration as the females.

    This is the feed ration, not the percentage of their diet. On range, it would actually be a little less.
     
  8. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    When looking at the commercial feeds, know that the least amt of protein is in the feed to get the job done. BECAUSE protein is the most expensive component of feed. Whether grain source or meat source.

    IMO I am not sure I buy into there being a limit to how much protein an animal can eat. In that I would look to the normal "wild " animal intake as a basis. What does a wild ground dwelling bird "normally" eat? ( Talking chickens here.) OR if ducks, what a wild duck eats. Some one reminded me that seeds are an important basis of a chicken's diet.

    Having said this,in regards to humans, I know the people of the far north traditionally ate a diet primarily of fats and protein ALL the time.Think whale, seal, polar bear, and caribou. The veg was limited to the lichen from the rumen of the caribou. ( No food wasted in a traditional diet.) WHen I am working to shed a few unwanted fat pounds, I switch to a very similar diet. ANd I know of many many people who also follow this eating program safely as well. I would be comfortable eating a diet soley of wild caught meat as this was a documented study of a year done MANY years ago. Most people dont know, or dont question, that there is NO nutritional requirement for carbohydrates in the human diet. What we do gain by eating grains, and other carb sources like potatoes, beets,turnips etc, is a source of calories and wonderful vitamins and minerals. But the carbs themselves are not required for survival. Carbs are not an essential nutrient for humans. Fats and proteins are, as well as a slew of vitamins and minerals.

    PS. WHo noticed that a beagle won Westminster. Miss P !!
     
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  9. bnjrob

    bnjrob Overrun With Chickens

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    Honestly, you won't know how much is too much unless you start having problems or you butcher your chickens and can see the effects of your feeding on their carcass. Each flock is different, different location, different feed, different chicken habits - too many variables to have an absolute number of how much protein is too much.

    We feed a 24% protein chick feed for about 2-3 months and then switch to a 21% protein feed. When we were feeding the 24% protein feed for longer periods - like up to 8-10 months old - is when we were finding a good deal of intra-abdominal fat when we butchered. Dropping back to the 21% feed while they are still fairly young has gotten rid of all the excess intra-abdominal fat. For reference - we have large fowl, dual purpose birds from breeder lines with full grown cocks that should weigh 9.5 lbs for their breed standard, and they do not free range all day, they only free range when supervised, so they aren't getting as much exercise as someone that is able to free range their birds all day.

    It's trial and error to find what works best in your situation.
     
  10. Dead Rabbit

    Dead Rabbit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    More likely it's because the commercial types mature very early and have smaller frames. And lay massive eggs. Fat generally isn't an issue with heavy producing commercial strains. Not that I've ever seen. Yet the heritage types can build amazing amounts of internal fat.

    I have never had an egg bound hen .........FYI oats help with maintaining weight.
     

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