Curious... Why do Pheasants, Chukars, etc. require....

1hawaiian

In the Brooder
8 Years
Jan 3, 2012
84
8
41
Why do Game Birds such as pheasants, chukars, etc. require higher protein feed than chickens?

I'm new to raising chickens for home egg-consumption but was just curious...

I live in a rural area where these wild game birds thrive in abundance. They are frequent visitors in my backyard and have watched them foraging daily for grasses/weeds, insects, and bugs.

I would think chickens would require and benefit from the same amount of protein levels as a WILD game bird if given the same chance to free-range...I dunno know just curious?
idunno.gif


What are your thoughts?

Thank you
 

kartking22

Songster
13 Years
Jan 12, 2008
294
3
214
Wisconsin
This is just my thoughts on the issue of more protien needed for game birds....... First of all, pheasants are spooked much easier than chickens. They need more energy to take flight at any sign of trouble. Thus, more protien is needed to store this needed energy. Since chickens are slower and usually run rather than flying, they do not need to store much energy and would require less protien. Game birds are more prone to predators since they do not have the comforts of a coop to hide in. A chicken in the same situation as a pheasant would become an easy meal for any predator.
 

deserthotwings

Songster
8 Years
Jul 1, 2011
389
18
111
Queen Creek AZ
This is just my thoughts on the issue of more protien needed for game birds....... First of all, pheasants are spooked much easier than chickens. They need more energy to take flight at any sign of trouble. Thus, more protien is needed to store this needed energy. Since chickens are slower and usually run rather than flying, they do not need to store much energy and would require less protien. Game birds are more prone to predators since they do not have the comforts of a coop to hide in. A chicken in the same situation as a pheasant would become an easy meal for any predator.

I agree, the metabolism in game birds, pheasant, quail, wild turkey, is greater than in domestic poultry. They expend a lot more energy than chickens.
 

AquaEyes

Songster
8 Years
Mar 4, 2011
1,664
60
161
Buffalo (but from Long Island)
I agree, the metabolism in game birds, pheasant, quail, wild turkey, is greater than in domestic poultry. They expend a lot more energy than chickens.




This is just my thoughts on the issue of more protien needed for game birds....... First of all, pheasants are spooked much easier than chickens. They need more energy to take flight at any sign of trouble. Thus, more protien is needed to store this needed energy. Since chickens are slower and usually run rather than flying, they do not need to store much energy and would require less protien. Game birds are more prone to predators since they do not have the comforts of a coop to hide in. A chicken in the same situation as a pheasant would become an easy meal for any predator.




These thoughts are incorrect. First of all, protein is not the primary source of energy for birds -- carbohydrates and fats are. Secondly, you must understand that species evolve toward metabolic efficiency in their environment -- including the diet they are able to procure. Species which are able to acquire certain nutrients in high levels regularly will show a decrease in ability to synthesize those nutrients themselves because in so doing, they are economizing their metabolism. Individuals which are able to get by while expending or wasting less energy will be at an evolutionary advantage over those which are metabolically redundant. Thus species eating a lot of protein will not tend to have "protein-miser" metabolisms because it would not be an advantage maintained by natural selection.

Conversely, species living on diets lower in a particular nutrient will result in some individuals "getting by better" than others, and their genes will be passed onto more offspring. Being as chickens are a domesticated species, and until recently were usually living off the "scraps of the land", those most efficient at making a living on this kind of diet were the ones that had more descendents. Wild pheasant species have not undergone this evolution, and must be fed diets that closely match (in nutrient levels) those which their wild relatives consume. Similarly, from what I've come to learn from breeders, chickens' wild ancestor-species (red, ceylon, grey and green jungle fowl) will do very poorly on "chicken feed" and must be fed gamebird feed to do well.
 

kartking22

Songster
13 Years
Jan 12, 2008
294
3
214
Wisconsin
I agree with some of your knowledge on bird digestive systems but we are not talking about free range birds here. I agree that free range birds have a limited choice for feed but the birds in question are mostly captive birds. These birds while captive will resort to canibalism if they do not get the protein that they need. Pecking and eating feathers of other birds will be thier source of this protein.
I have seen this first hand and will encourage everyone to feed high protein feed to thier birds to discourage canibalism.
If AquaEyes has more knowledge with raising pheasants, I will take his advice.
I googled pheasant farms in Long Island, NY. I didn't find any results.









These thoughts are incorrect. First of all, protein is not the primary source of energy for birds -- carbohydrates and fats are. Secondly, you must understand that species evolve toward metabolic efficiency in their environment -- including the diet they are able to procure. Species which are able to acquire certain nutrients in high levels regularly will show a decrease in ability to synthesize those nutrients themselves because in so doing, they are economizing their metabolism. Individuals which are able to get by while expending or wasting less energy will be at an evolutionary advantage over those which are metabolically redundant. Thus species eating a lot of protein will not tend to have "protein-miser" metabolisms because it would not be an advantage maintained by natural selection.

Conversely, species living on diets lower in a particular nutrient will result in some individuals "getting by better" than others, and their genes will be passed onto more offspring. Being as chickens are a domesticated species, and until recently were usually living off the "scraps of the land", those most efficient at making a living on this kind of diet were the ones that had more descendents. Wild pheasant species have not undergone this evolution, and must be fed diets that closely match (in nutrient levels) those which their wild relatives consume. Similarly, from what I've come to learn from breeders, chickens' wild ancestor-species (red, ceylon, grey and green jungle fowl) will do very poorly on "chicken feed" and must be fed gamebird feed to do well.
 

AquaEyes

Songster
8 Years
Mar 4, 2011
1,664
60
161
Buffalo (but from Long Island)
The question was WHY (not WHETHER) pheasants require more protein than chickens. Answers given were that more protein was needed because pheasants are more hyper and burn more energy. I did not disagree with WHETHER pheasants require more protein than do chickens, but WHY. I disagreed with the reasons given, and explained it in my answer. I do not need to own pheasants to know that protein is not a primary energy source for birds -- that comes from basic nutrition principals. I gave the likely reason for higher protein requirements as being the evolutionary history of association with higher levels of protein in the wild, and the fact that pheasants haven't had thousands of years to evolve along with lower protein chicken feed. Free range or caged has nothing to do with the reasons given before my response as to why pheasants have higher protein requirements. Your reply really has nothing to do with what I said, other than to sound bitter that I disagreed with the answer you gave.
 
Last edited:

kartking22

Songster
13 Years
Jan 12, 2008
294
3
214
Wisconsin
I am not bitter with being told that I might be wrong. I have been wrong many times in the past. I will admit this. I learn from my mistakes by taking for granted that books that I read about raising pheasants were "Law". I found that there is no Bible for raising pheasants. Understanding pheasants is very similar to understanding women. They all have different needs. All birds do. Some are happy with the dollar menu at Mc Donalds while others need to order a steak and lobster tail from Red Lobster. Everyone needs to watch thier birds and change thier diet accordingly to thier needs. I do not believe that there is a book that will tell you what you need to exactly feed either chickens or gamebirds.
I am sorry that you might have thought that I was trying to challenge your knowledge of bird digestion, I was not. I was just passing on my personal experience with raising pheasants.
 

SouthDakotan

Songster
8 Years
I agree, the metabolism in game birds, pheasant, quail, wild turkey, is greater than in domestic poultry. They expend a lot more energy than chickens.

I think it depends on whether your birds are free range and needing to use Flight to escape predation or not. Most hobbyists pamper and protect their flocks to the point that the birds have few predators to deal with running from. However, I think back to my childhood and my aunts flocks.... and predation was a real threat. They had to be light enough in body they could fly for short distances to get away from coyotes and small predators. They had to expend a lot more energy than hobby birds. They weren't slow moving behemoths, but closer to the wild game birds that chickens originated from. Additionally they had to put on fat to survive the winter months, though they had shelter in the form of an unheated poultry building that was NOT insulated.

Protein levels area also hidden in our commercial feed mixes. We don't pay attention to what amount our birds are getting, generally. I've been trying to get the break down of "NEED" of domestic chickens nuitrional needs, but am finding it not very easy to accomplish. Lots of excuses in the industry for not giving up those details. One being "so many varieties"...which is bull. Cattle breeds vary greatly too and so do other livestock, but those industries don't hoard the nuitritional needs of the various breeds and age groups. I believe this has more to do with corporate greed and desires for hobbyists to buy commercially produced feeds.

But to the subject at hand.... the diversity of foods those wild game fowl are getting also affects their taste. Notice how "gamey" or "wild" they taste compared to the commercially raised varieties? This is not just genetics, but food intake. If we want healthy birds, we should consider making sure our imprisoned flocks get diversity in their diets too, in my opinion.
 

ranit

Songster
9 Years
Apr 14, 2010
344
7
111
Illinois
Personally I feel the type of protein also makes a difference. Plant protein is just not the same as animal protein especially when dealing with gamebirds.
 

AquaEyes

Songster
8 Years
Mar 4, 2011
1,664
60
161
Buffalo (but from Long Island)
Personally I feel the type of protein also makes a difference. Plant protein is just not the same as animal protein especially when dealing with gamebirds.

This is true. Because of the way protein levels in feed are measured, high-protein feed can potentially cause protein deficiencies, while a lower-protein feed may not. This is because proteins are composed of amino acids, and there are some amino acids which are required in feed because they are not synthesized in the body. Animal-source proteins are "complete" -- they contain all the necessary amino acids. Most plant-source proteins are "incomplete" -- they are missing one or more of the necessary amino acids, so plant-source proteins must be balanced so that one compliments the other. If plant-source proteins are balanced with regards to necessary amino acids, it's possible to have a net "complete protein" that is totally plant-derived, but the "protein level" on the feed bag doesn't measure that. It uses a measurement of total nitrogen and calculates protein levels based on the percentage of nitrogen present in amino acids and protein. A bag of feed could be listed as "25% protein content" but if one or more necessary amino acids are missing or deficient, the "usable protein content" will be limited to the amount of the necessary amino acid with the lowest amount. Additionally, the protein level on the bag is based on what's in the food, and doesn't take into account whether or not the animal can actually digest and use the protein. This is where shady feed companies get away with stuff. Technically, feather meal is high in protein, and if added to feed, will raise the protein content. But it's not very digestible, so the bird may still develop protein deficiencies if much of the protein in its feed can't be used by its body.

smile.png
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom