Feed efficiency

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by BonnLBP, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. BonnLBP

    BonnLBP Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, I've been raising laying hens for about 3 years now, molting seoson always hits me hard though. I currently have 17 hens. I have upped their protein level to about 30%. They have lost quite a bit of weight though. I am feeding them feed that gives them about 2.5% fat along with 2 other feeds mixed in with it one 5% fat and the other 2% fat. Does anybody suggest anything different? I am also feeding them in 2 kitchens pans and one small dog dish. What do you suggest I feed them in? I also sprinkle feed on the ground. I have always been known to spoil my chickens, weather if I have 6 or 19 hens. I would rather not spoil them, but I don't want to under feed them as well. I have an egg laying buissness to save up for college so my budget is tight, but I don't want to loose any hens either.does anyone have any suggestions, especially on their feed and how to feed them? I have about 5 feed stores in town, Diamond D, Tractor Supply Co.,Elston's, Livery and Kahoot's,
     
  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure, but I think 30% protein might be a bit high, even during a molt. I could be wrong...it's just I've never seen anyone suggest that high during a molt.

    Have they actually lost weight, I mean, have you weighed them on a reliable scale? When ours molt, they *look* like they lost weight, but that's just from losing feathers, not actual weight loss.

    I wouldn't sprinkle feed on the ground. The powdery vitamins and minerals are not as likely to get eaten. Just keep with feeders or dishes. If you want to sprinkle on the ground, give them some scratch grains.
     
  3. BonnLBP

    BonnLBP Out Of The Brooder

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    I was just suggested a high protein feed. What percentage of fat do you suggest? I am currently feeding them game bird feed that is high in protein but that low in fat, while they molt to get them back into egg laying sooner along with corn. What do you feed your hens while they do molt and otherwise? Yes they have lost weight. No, I haven't weighed them recently, but I have felt all of them and have felt a dramatic weight loss in them all. True. Ok, thank you for the advice! :) would you suggest feeders over dishes at all, or not? I do have a tight budget, but do you think they will waiste less food one over the other, by any chance? :)
     
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry, I don't know the answer to your question about fat. Perhaps someone else will chime in.

    If your budget is tight and you have the time to feed twice a day (once in morning and once an hour before they go to bed), then dishes would be fine. This would control your feed costs, since they would likely not waste their food. Make sure your dishes are deep and you have enough of them so all your birds get a chance to eat. One dish I use is a 4 quart stockpot, the sides are about 5" high. They can't bill the food out of the dish that way and waste the feed.

    Another way to less feed waste is to moisten or ferment the food. Easiest is to just moisten. Pour more water than you think you'll need and the feed will soak it up with some stirring. The food will be either soupy or clumpy, neither of which is all that easy for a chicken to bill out. It also makes it easier for them to eat.

    Controlled feeding vs having feed available all the time will also greatly reduce feed loss due to rodents or wild birds.
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Fat for layers should be 2.5-3%. Perhaps a bit more isn't a problem.

    As for protein, 30% is WAAAY too high. 20% is high for layers. When not molting, 16-17% is ideal. These crude protein numbers are assuming the ratio of amino acids is appropriate.

    A couple % points change in protein makes a big difference. Excessive protein needs to be processed by the liver and excreted by the kidneys as uric acid. This puts a load on both organs and can cause articular gout.
    Excessive protein is also an unnecessary expense - especially for someone trying to limit cost. The uric acid in the feces will also greatly increase the ammonia in the bedding.

    Sprinkling feed on the ground is a good way to waste feed. Keeping it in a container that eliminates waste will make a big difference. Feeders with fins around the outside that eliminate billing out help, or put another container under the feeder to collect what is wasted.

    As pdirt said, fermenting or wetting the feed dramatically eliminates waste. It also binds up the fines, which chickens will usually ignore and is where most of the goodies are located. Feed is ground grains/seeds and additives in the form of vitamins/minerals/amino acids. If you're throwing away those fines, you're throwing away the bulk of the nutrition.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Chicken Canoe is spot on about 30% being way to high in protein for layers. Meat bird feed is at 22% to 24%, and it is that high so that you can grow them quickly for butcher. Too high of protein can cause joint issues in growing birds, and liver problems in older birds, however commercial meat birds are not intended to last much longer than 8 to 16 weeks.

    I tend to keep my layers on 20% layer feed during the winter as I have limited forage available (bugs and such) and to support the molt. During summer I scale back to the 16%.

    I just found and purchased Nutrena's Feather Fixer which is a feed formulated to support birds during molt...my Google research turns up happy customers (not telling if they are real or not), but the feed store reported people are happy with it and say that it helps get them through the molt quicker. It has 18% protein with various other nutritional support for molting.

    Lady of McCamley
     
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    I can't agree more with CC. Except with the fermented feed part. Wet food is ok as long as it is fresh, it does bind up the vitamins and minerals added at the feed mill. As for ammonia in the bedding, why do you think that the smell coming from a commercial broiler house burns your eyes. It is from the excreted ammonia or protein in the chicken manure and this is only at about a 22% protein ration.
     

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