can you change a chicks diet from a lower protein to a higher one

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jk47, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. jk47

    jk47 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i had to go with a start in grow which is a 18% I normally feed my chicks a 20% feed in tell they go outside
    im not going to switch feeds now but it got me thinking could you well they have issues because I increase and decrease protein in other livestock feed but never young livestock like chicks
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Commercial operations are extremely careful to feed the chicks exactly what they need for best performance, whether that is broilers for meat of pullets for laying. They want the feeding regime that is most cost effective since it is a business both from not paying to feed them better than they need to be fed but also to give top performance. That’s just business.

    When a broody hen raises her chicks, she takes them out to forage. They eat what they find. Some days they may hit the jackpot and find some pretty high-protein stuff to eat. Other days the protein level may not be quite so high. Those chicks do fine. For a lot of chicks a big part of that foraging is in the feed we provide but a broody can raise her chicks just on forage if the quality of forage is high enough. Most of us, including me, don’t have forage that good so we need to supplement with additional feed.

    Some people try to micromanage every bite their chickens eat. I don’t. I believe in a balanced diet but I don’t sweat the fine print. I normally feed a 20% protein feed the first four weeks then a 16% protein from then on, but some days they might get tomato scraps, broccoli leaves, or something else from my garden, they might get food scraps from my kitchen, some days they might find a big protein source trying to creepy-crawl through their forage area and get a high amount of protein, and some days they get nothing but the commercial feed and what they forage. My chicks grow up healthy and active, lay well, and taste pretty good when they make it to the table. I don’t think them getting a varied amount of protein or other nutrients each day hurts them at all, as long as the overall diet is generally balanced and you don’t go overboard on one specific treat.

    I’m not sure if that answers your question or not.
     
  3. jk47

    jk47 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some what so are you saying becaus in the wild their protein levels change so often that If I change protein in my ration it won't have any negative effects
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Ridgerunner explained it well. So to answer your question you can bounce the protein around with no ill effects. That said, I cut back on protein percentage after the first month.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks. Now I understand your question a little better.

    Part of that depends on your goals and part how much you alter the protein level. It is possible it could affect productivity some in certain conditions, like you are keeping thousands of laying hens in your flock if there is a big swing in protein levels. But for the vast majority of us with our backyard flocks the effects will not be noticeable if you swing between 16% or 18% or 20% after they reach about 4 weeks of age.

    They do better the first month on a higher protein feed. 18% to 20% is good. That’s when they are getting started in life and growing feathers. Once they are feathered out, it is not as critical.

    This is my opinion. Others will have different opinions. It’s how I raise mine. I have a healthy, active flock that lays a lot of eggs. Those eggs hatch into healthy chicks.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm pretty much the same now. I used to give a high protein for up to 3 months but now I go for 20-24 the first month and 16 thereafter. For the first time in my life I had a bit of cannibalism last winter in separate 2 month old flocks so I upped the protein and it stopped.
    I also up the protein during molt.
    If I feed growing cockerels or roosters separately, I try for closer to 14% protein.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014

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