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Feed conversion to egg output ratio-best breeds?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by carolynm, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. carolynm

    carolynm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have read all the articles on what breeds are the best layers but I'm wondering-do these articles factor in feed to get the egg ie feed to egg ratio? For example a leghorn will eat much more than a bantam cochin but will also lay more, and bigger eggs. Are some chicken breeds more "efficient" than others?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    That is a good question and a factor often overlooked. Some hens are much more efficient at converting feed to eggs than others. These hens have fairly small bodies so they don’t need as much feed for body maintenance yet lay decent eggs. Leghorns are a great example.

    The ones that have been developed precisely for this quality are the commercial egg layers. They are not breeds but are hybrids, developed for the commercial egg laying market through years of selective breeding. Some hatcheries offer these as their sex links, red or black. Some hatchery sex links are made by crossing specific breeds like a Rhode Island Red rooster over a White Rock or Silver Laced Wyandotte. Those sex links are not going to be any more efficient in converting feed to eggs than the parent breeds. If I remember right and it hasn’t changed, McMurray and Cackle offer the commercial hybrids, Ideal does not, and Meyer gives you a choice. There are several different commercial strains of these hybrids, ISA Browns or DeKalb for example, but it may take some work finding them. These generally look like they have a lot of leghorn in their ancestry.

    Another factor in efficiency is how much they can find their own food. It certainly depends on your climate and situation, but if they can forage for most of their food and you don’t have to buy it, how efficient can you get? Any good forager is pretty efficient. But if you are buying all or most of the food, the leghorns or commercial hybrids are your best bet.
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The feed efficiency is a major studied aspect of the poultry genetics companies who produce the commercial lines of layers. HiSex, Hubbard, ISA, DeKalb, Tetra and so forth.

    These companies offer these commercial hens and the buyers, who are large egg producers, have this stuff down to a decimal point. Most of these companies state the conversion stats on their websites for the various "models" of layer they produce.

    If this is a really determining factor in your decision making, I'd strongly recommend a commercial type layer. They are readily available and many of the hatcheries offer a few different lines of white egg layer and brown egg layer, yes, even to the retail customer. It is highly doubtful these birds can be matched. The dollars spend in research on them incredible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    It's actually very interesting to go on the websites for these companies. Fred is right, they have it down to two decimal places. Not only feed conversion to egg mass, but also size of egg, number of inclusions such as meat spots in the egg, etc. Check this out: http://www.isapoultry.com/en/products/

    I really like my production line poultry. My white Leghorns are great layers and forage very well, also. They are not pet chickens by any means, but they are beautiful and do the job. I also like the commercial Red Sex Links. They lay very well (with the exception that the egg size can get too large if you don't restrict certain nutrients at 80% of desired egg size, but I can't do that and the commercial guys can) and are the calmest, sweetest chickens I own.
     
  5. pitbull girl

    pitbull girl New Egg

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    I also heard that fat hens make bad layers..... How do I know? I've only had chickens for 9 months. I like to give them veggie and fruit treats. How much should you feed per grown bird per day or week? I just always leave food out on the feeder. Is that a bad idea?
     
  6. carolynm

    carolynm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    These sites kind of scare me - I don't want GMO chickens by any means-do you think they breed by natural selection ie retain those with desirable traits or do you think they genetically alter them?
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Reasonable question.

    This has nothing to do with GMO. It’s done by selective breeding, exactly the type of stuff used to create every chicken breed there is.
     
  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    It's traditional chicken breeding, and done in exactly the same way as a BYCer would that wants to breed for a certain trait or traits in their birds. Breed the birds with the traits you want together. Keep only the very best of the offspring and breed again. When you breed farm animals, every succeeding generation should be better than the one before it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Never, ever let layers run out of feed. Them not having feed in front of them for even an hour or two can put them off laying for several days. Normal laying hens don't get fat, even with free choice feed. A bird that does get fat should be culled.

    Grown layers will eat somewhere between .25 and .4 pounds of layer ration a day, depending on breed, condition, whether or not they range, and how good the range is that they're on.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  10. pitbull girl

    pitbull girl New Egg

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    Thanks walking on sunshine.... I always leave food in their feeders. So I guess I'm doing it right...
     

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