Confused about Protein %

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jomoncon, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. jomoncon

    jomoncon Songster

    Sep 24, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    In reading the forum, it appears that laying chickens need more protein than baby chicks. I am starting to get confused. I started my chicks off on Purina SunFresh, and it says An 18%-protein ration perfect for raising laying chicks from hatch to laying age (18-20 weeks). The 2nd time I purchased feed, they were out of the Purina, so I got HomeGrown Starter/Grower 18%.

    When I read the Purina website, it says to switch to their Layena SunFresh at 18 weeks: A 16%-protein high-calcium ration formulated for top-producing laying birds once they reach 18 weeks of age.

    Why is the protein % less in the layers' feed than in the growers' feed? I thought it would be just the opposite. Or am I totally confused by how much protein is needed by chicks & layers?

  2. RIBill

    RIBill Chirping

    Nov 7, 2010
    Protein is expensive. Commercial feeds are formulated to provide as little as possible to save money for the feed companies. My chick grower was 14.5%. My layer is 16%. I would like to get 18% feed but I would have to drive to get it. I just feed high protein treats to compensate. When it comes down to it, it's all about cost. If you can find it, anything between 16 and 20 would be fine for layers. As for starter, meat birds need higer protein to prevent leg problems. Again, feed companies give the minimum.
  3. swimmer

    swimmer Songster

    Aug 17, 2010
    I feed a little higher protien in the winter months, but not even sure if it's needed. The guy at the feed store suggested 20% for the colder months. I think(around here)16-18% is all we need.
  4. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    As for the average backyard laying flock ---

    When chicks are young [from hatching to twelve weeks of age] they need the extra protein for the proper functioning of antibodies resisting infection, for the regulation of enzymes and hormones, for growth, and for the repair of body tissue as they grow. Young chicks should have a feed that's protein is from 18 to 21 percent.

    When chicks are from twelve weeks of age to the first egg is layer they don't need as much protein as when they were first hatched so most feed Mfg. offer a Grower/ Developer to promote a slower growth and giving the bird time to fill out, build there weight up slow and build strong bones. Most Grower/ Developer feed is between 15 to 18 percent protein.

    Pullets and Hens that are laying need a little extra protein to keep them fit, in shape and for egg development. Most layer feed is from 18 to 20 percent protein.

    Now some people will feed a Starter/Grower feed a birds whole life with out switching feed.
    This is nice because you never have to wonder when to switch there feed and you are only buying one type of feed.

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
  5. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    Quote:Because the percentage does not tell you the amount of protein they are actually eating. An adult hen obviously eats more than a chick so she is actually eating more protein.

    The amount of protein a bird needs depends upon stage of growth, age, and how much they are laying.

    The percentage of protein required in the feed depends upon the amount of protein required and how much they are eating.

    A hen eats to fulfill its energy requirements. If a hen needs 400 calories (depending upon ambient temperature and activity level) it eats 400 calories of food. Let's say a 4 lb layer hen at peak production needs 20 grams of protein a day and she is eating .27 lbs (123 grams) of feed. What is the percentage of protein required in the feed to get 20 grams into her?

    20 grams divided by 123 grams = 16.2%

    In the summer when they are eating less, the percentage of protein should come up a little to get that 20 grams into her. In the winter when she is eating much more, the percentage of protein in the feed can come down.

    Feed mills do not limit the amount of protein in the feed because they are being cheap. They balance the percentage of protein in feed against the energy (calories) available in the feed to provide the average bird the correct amount of protein under average conditions. As the averages change (older birds in low production, high temperatures, low temperatures, etc) The protein can be adjusted accordingly. It needn't be an exact science, as long as you understand the general concepts you can make a judgement as to whether you feel they need a little more, or a little less protein.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2010

  6. jomoncon

    jomoncon Songster

    Sep 24, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    Quote:Thanks so much, Mac. This makes sense to me now. Since hens eat proportionally more than chicks, then the amount of protein consumed would be greater. Now, I understand.

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