Confused about protein levels. - Don't fix what ain't broke?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by RonoKT, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. RonoKT

    RonoKT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use an organic feed for my flock, not so much for the chickens or myself but because I believe organic agriculture is preferable for the environment, especially cereal agriculture. In the U.K. there only seems to be one readily available organic feed range and that is by "the organic feed company". I don't have any problem with the feed and I would say it has been working out well for me, but it is the only feed I have ever used, so I have no comparison, however the protein levels seem low compared to what I read on here and elsewhere. I have just received a large order, have hicks hatching today and my flock is in moult so protein levels are in my mind. The chick crumb is 17.5% crude protein, the grower/ finisher is 16%, the layer is also 16% and the mixed corn is 10.5%. I have raised a small group of Ross 308 on the chick crumb and grower/ finisher and I have raised my current flock using the whole range, the Ross got huge and I have had no problems with my current flock, although they are hardly laying at the moment as they seem to be moulting. I do supplement the feed with meal worms and ferment some of what I feed but the birds have never shown signs of being protein deficient (that I could see). How significant is the protein level of a feed? what are your opinions if the numbers for this feed? I can put detailed labels up for the rest of the range if anyone is interested.
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  2. RonoKT

    RonoKT Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    The protein is adequate but now that they are molting, I would eliminate the scratch grains (corn, wheat).
    I notice that no synthetic lysine and methionine are added. Those are essential amino acids that most manufacturers add because vegetative sources are deficient in them. As omnivores, chickens benefit from animal protein sources.
    Since feathers are 93% protein, I would probably use the 17.5% until they recover from molt.
    Do you have access to fishmeal? Mixing fishmeal with a 16% feed at a 10:1 ratio will increase the protein to 20%.
     
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi. [​IMG]

    I would skip the mixed corn because that is diminishing your protein level. Also, if many aren't laying... I would feed the 17.5% chick crumble and offer oyster shell on the side for anyone who needs it. The 4% calcium in layer is too high for non laying birds. I use a 20% flock raiser for my mixed age and gender flock.

    Also, I love that you ferment! Why not ferment all the feed?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    How do you manage your chickens? Do they forage much or are they entirely dependent on you for what they eat? If they forage much it’s hard for you to micromanage every bite they eat. You don’t have a lot of control over a lot of this. The quality of forage enters into it too.

    If you read on here you will see that a lot of people firmly believe it is imperative that you feed a high protein feed. Part of that depends on your goals for chickens. If you are raising chickens for show you probably need to feed a special diet. You want them to grow extra big and all that. You may have other goals that feeding high protein levels would be beneficial. There is no right or wrong answer on this in general but specific circumstances may dictate a certain direction.

    Commercial egg laying chicks are generally fed a Starter, maybe 20 to 22% protein, the first four weeks or so. Then they switch to a 16% Grower. Around 13 weeks they go to a 15% protein Developer/Finisher. A little before they start to lay they switch to a 16% protein Layer with about 4% calcium. They control onset of laying, mainly with lights. Some people will cite this as proof of how cruel and heartless commercial operations are, starving their birds. But they have discovered that with their hybrid commercial laying flock, this is the most efficient way to keep them healthy and maximize production. These birds are bred to be egg laying machines. They are really good at converting feed into eggs. If they feed a higher protein level feed they develop medical problems, the eggs just get too big for their smaller bodies to handle.

    But you probably don’t have the commercial hybrids. Our normal dual purpose birds are not as efficient in converting feed to eggs as the commercial birds, just like they are not as efficient in converting feed into meat as the hybrid broilers. They can handle a much higher level of protein than the commercial birds without it harming them.

    But they also don’t absolutely have to have a higher level of protein either. They can manage quite well on lower protein levels. They won’t grow as big and they won’t lay extra big eggs but they will still grow big enough and lay eggs big enough, at least to suit me.

    Mine forage a lot. I’m quite comfortable feeding them a 20% Starter when they are in the brooder or a broody hen is raising them. The entire flock eats the 20% Starter at this time. But after 4 to 5 weeks, whenever the bag of feed runs out, I switch to a 15% protein Developer. Other than when I have young chicks that’s what I serve mine all the time. I keep oyster shell on the side for those that want it. I also give them a lot of kitchen and garden scraps, just toss that in the run. My run is a large area enclosed in electric netting, not a small green-free space.

    When mine are molting they are fed the same. I do not have problems with feather picking, cannibalism, any of that. I think part of that is that I have a lot of room for them, plus they are not used to high levels of protein so they haven’t developed a need for it. Feeding higher levels of protein sometimes helps with feather-picking though. How fast they recover from a molt has more to do with how fast the feathers fall out than how fast they grow back. How fast they fall out is genetically controlled, not reliant of feed. But a higher protein feed will marginally speed up feather growth. It will also make the feathers grow back thicker.

    Some people do have problems if they don’t feed high levels of protein. We all have different goals, management methods, and set-ups so different things work for different people. But I agree with your thread title, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    I don’t see anything wrong with your feed selection. I don’t know why you are feeding that corn but as long as it is less than 10% of their daily feed it’s not hurting anything. I don’t feed “scratch” like that but consider my kitchen and garden wastes to be a good healthy treat. Besides mine forge a lot, I don’t have much control over their feed intake levels anyway.

    I agree with Canoe on the amino acids. They should be getting them for muscle development. I don’t know what your “organic” rules are in the UK, ours over here allow synthetic essential products like these in organic feeds. I do see them listed as ingredients on your labels, Lysine and Methionine. Canoe, do you need another cup of coffee this morning? That sounds like something I’d do.
     
  6. RonoKT

    RonoKT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the responses.
    I simplified my description of how I feed them because I didn't to bore with too much detail but I will elaborate now. I feed them a fermented mash of the grower/ finisher daily, they also usually have access to a large gravity fed bin of a dried pellet, usually layer, they have access to oyster shell and grit and I sometimes substitute the grower/ finisher with the corn because I like the idea of them occasionally having to digest whole grains, not sure how important that actually is, if they are given corn, they get extra meal worms and or sunflower seed to try to up the protein. I feed garden and kitchen scraps most days and while they have no green in their run, they have plenty of composty material that they go through and get worms and other things from. I would love to have access to fishmeal or something similar but I am yet to find a regular source I would be happy with for any animal protein, they do get meat in the kitchen scraps. regarding methionine and lysine, the feed I use does contain them, I guess it is at a good level, not sure what the source is though, it does say the feed contains no synthetic amino acids. As I have chicks on the way (three of ten hatched so far, due day today) I will feed the whole flock on starter for a while, until I think the moult is over and egg production is back up. What I have taken from these responses is to not worry about the numbers so much and also to avoid the corn. Thanks allot!
     

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