Can you feed Meat Bird feed to Layers?

Onslow's Hens

Chirping
Dec 29, 2017
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Eastern Shore - my happy place...
I want to feed my dual purpose type layers a higher protein feed than 16%. They lay better and look better when getting a higher protein feed. Can I feed a Meat Bird Feed (with oyster shell in a separate dish)? The reason I ask is because I found a 20% protein Meat Bird feed (Southern States Meat Bird Maker) that I really like the ingredients list. Very similar to their Layer Feed (what I feed now) but with the higher protein level.

I see lots feeding the Flock Raiser by Purina to layers but I don't feed Purina - I'm a southern states gal! Just a personal preference.

Sorry - got long winded there..... Is it ok to feed a Meat Bird Feed to layers???

My hens free range all day. They are Australorps and Speckeled Sussexs and EE's.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
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It won't necessarily hurt your laying hens and it won't necessarily help your laying hens.
Any excess protein (about 3 or 4 percent of total feed in this instance will be excreted in the manure of laying hens. This is especially true when feeding adult chickens whose ability to utilize a higher protein feed diminishes when the the bird reaches adult hood. Besides with only a limited number of chickens you'll never notice the increased presence of ammonia in the droppings like you would say if you were feeding out 20,000 broiler-firers at a time. The good news is that the increased protein in a broiler-fryer ration during the molt will likely result in a shinier, slimmer, sleeker, harder feathered hen than a laying hen diet will produce. Some broiler-fryer type chickens have the genetic ability to reach almost 30 pounds on unlimited amounts of 20 to 22% protein feed. But they reach this size so fast that the rest of the hens' body can not keep up with the chickens' size and weight gain so they die young before reaching their full potential.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
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Sep 29, 2014
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It depends if you are feeding treats such as fresh fruit and veges, scratch grains/sprouted grains that would otherwise dilute that 16% protein in the commercial feed. That's where a higher protein feed can give you more flexibility to give them other things.
 

Onslow's Hens

Chirping
Dec 29, 2017
96
133
96
Eastern Shore - my happy place...
I feed all our table scraps, lots of fruits and veggies, and they free range on our farm all day/everyday. I know they gets lots of extra stuff to each around my horse barn too. That is one of the reasons I thought I should probably up the protein %. The layer feed probably makes up about 75 % of their entire diet since they free range.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
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How are the birds looking? If they are looking fine, laying fine, egg quality is good, their feather condition is fine, perhaps you don't need to make any changes.

I've come full circle. If you read my posts 2 - 3 years ago, you would find that I was on the high protein band wagon. In the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that extra protein is not necessarily a good thing. I look at my bird's condition. If their condition or behavior says they need more protein, then I give it. (I did increase for a month or so when they were coming back into full lay, and will keep the protein AND MULTI VITAMINS increased to condition them for peak quality hatching eggs.) Otherwise, my birds get 16% layer.

While many folks are on the "more protein is better" band wagon, and also are on the "too much calcium is a bad thing" band wagon, little is said about the role of excess protein in relation to gout. Also, a bird who carries excess visceral fat is much more prone to reproductive issues.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
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Jul 26, 2016
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In my experience having dual purpose chickens for 23 months. My Golden Comets behavior and appearance are much improved feeding a 18% Protein layers feed than when I fed them a 16% layers feed.
From what I've read, many people give treats, such as table and kitchen scraps and scratch grains to chickens. Myself, I give mixed seeds twice a day as a treat.
I believe a 18 to 20 percent protein feed is a good idea, for a backyard flock.
But if they fill up on treats, a higher Protein won't do much if they aren't eating enough. GC
 
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Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
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North-Central IL
I started out just feeding chick starter/grower as I had a rooster and wanted a little more protein, my local brand is 18%. At some point I switched to the local 21% meatbird crumbles. My hens always look great, not too fat, not too lean. Currently I've moved on to cutting meatbird with scratch evenly and adding some cat food to bring the protein back up, because I want to lower the soy content of their diet. That's working out very nicely as well. If it ever warms up here I plan to soak some alfalfa pellets to add in as well.
 

Onslow's Hens

Chirping
Dec 29, 2017
96
133
96
Eastern Shore - my happy place...
Mosey2003 - that is great information about feeding duals meatbird feed. My dual purpose hens look good but their feather tend to get taty and broken too often on 16% layer feed. I fed a 20% Meatbird starter grower to them when introducing some young pullets who could not have the higher calcium layer feed just yet and the Duals just looked and layed much much better. One question....the meatbird feed has low calcium so i do, and will continue, to have unlimited oystershell in a separate feeder at all times. Is having the calcium provided "on the side" adequate for layers?
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,096
5,037
411
North-Central IL
I feel like it's adequate, I've never had any shell issues. You can save some shells and feed them back too if you want, but that doesn't do as much for them as the oyster because the oyster will sit in their crop through the night, while they're forming the eggs.
 

MANNA-PRO

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