Feed for Longevity

micstrachan

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Apr 10, 2016
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Santa Cruz Mountains, California
@Texas Kiki, when did you change your screen name? :)

I have a question for you, since I know you love to research chicken feed. Have you done much research on feeding chickens for longevity? My understanding is that almost all research on chicken nutrition is geared toward industry, meaning it is for birds that are meant to be turned into meat in a matter of weeks or for egg layers that will pump out as many eggs as possible and be discarded in a year or two.

Since my birds are strictly pets and I would like for them to live as long as possible (as long as they are healthy and happy), I wonder if their nutritional requirements are different than what the studies say.

If you know of any articles and can direct me to them, I would appreciate it. Thanks!
 

chuckachucka

Crowing
Mar 22, 2016
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I have often wondered about this. In the UK we have layer feed and grower feed. It seems obvious that the layer feed is designed to maximise egg production and that the grower feed is designed to encourage chickens to grow as large as possible as fast as possible. They are not necessarily designed to provide optimal nutrition for a long, healthy and natural life for chickens. :confused:
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
17,613
137,769
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Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
@Texas Kiki, when did you change your screen name? :)

I have a question for you, since I know you love to research chicken feed. Have you done much research on feeding chickens for longevity? My understanding is that almost all research on chicken nutrition is geared toward industry, meaning it is for birds that are meant to be turned into meat in a matter of weeks or for egg layers that will pump out as many eggs as possible and be discarded in a year or two.

Since my birds are strictly pets and I would like for them to live as long as possible (as long as they are healthy and happy), I wonder if their nutritional requirements are different than what the studies say.

If you know of any articles and can direct me to them, I would appreciate it. Thanks!
I’ve looked for studies on this topic and so far haven’t been able to find any.
One obvious problem is such a study would need to cover a number of chicken lives, possibly multiple groups eating different feeds. It’s a massive task.
I think there will also be a variation in optimal feeds for different breeds.
I don’t think free ranging guaranties optimal nutrition either. A lot must depend on what is available in the free range environment.
I’ve become very interested in this subject because it is apparent that the nutritional requirements of roosters and hens is obviously different, as is their eating habits in a free range setting; the roosters tending to ‘load’ at morning and evening while the hens tend to snack throughout the day while the rooster stands guard.
I stopped feeding straight layers pellets some time ago. Layers pellets have been designed for laying hens and when a hen stops laying I wondered what happened about the high levels of calcium which were no longer needed. A similar problem exists with the roosters who don’t need the level a high level of calcium.
Good luck with your question. I’ll be interested to read the opinions of others. I would be even more interested if someone has found any research on the subject.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
I and people like me keep birds that are not considered mature until 18 months. Generally, they fed restricted ration rather that free-choice typically employed by industry and backyard enthusiast. The feeds are not as hot / nutrient dense. The feeds are generally based on whole grains and more vegetative plant matter like you get with access to grass. The diets used on hen side are not complete; the calcium and phosphate needed for sustained egg production is on the side in the form of something like crushed oyster the birds have free-choice access too.

Birds as I keep them have little trouble reaching 10 years of age.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
This not just about nutrition, it also involves physical activity and physical contact with surfaces that provide wear when needed and do not cause damage. Tight coops, wood only floor, hardware cloth floors are bad. The birds need a roost or some elevated location they can work flight muscles when accessing. Make so they can work legs scratching which can be realized by simply moving things around if they are confined.

Generally, birds that are free-range kept get plenty of exercise.
 

micstrachan

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Apr 10, 2016
10,420
50,078
1,137
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
I have often wondered about this. In the UK we have layer feed and grower feed. It seems obvious that the layer feed is designed to maximise egg production and that the grower feed is designed to encourage chickens to grow as large as possible as fast as possible. They are not necessarily designed to provide optimal nutrition for a long, healthy and natural life for chickens. :confused:

I agree. Mine are currently on half layer/half grower, but only 2/3 are laying right now due to molt. I’d like to find an all flock raiser, as the grower I buy is 22% protein and I wonder if it has issues of its own.
 

micstrachan

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Apr 10, 2016
10,420
50,078
1,137
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
I’ve looked for studies on this topic and so far haven’t been able to find any.
One obvious problem is such a study would need to cover a number of chicken lives, possibly multiple groups eating different feeds. It’s a massive task.
I think there will also be a variation in optimal feeds for different breeds.
I don’t think free ranging guaranties optimal nutrition either. A lot must depend on what is available in the free range environment.
I’ve become very interested in this subject because it is apparent that the nutritional requirements of roosters and hens is obviously different, as is their eating habits in a free range setting; the roosters tending to ‘load’ at morning and evening while the hens tend to snack throughout the day while the rooster stands guard.
I stopped feeding straight layers pellets some time ago. Layers pellets have been designed for laying hens and when a hen stops laying I wondered what happened about the high levels of calcium which were no longer needed. A similar problem exists with the roosters who don’t need the level a high level of calcium.
Good luck with your question. I’ll be interested to read the opinions of others. I would be even more interested if someone has found any research on the subject.
It’s all really fascinating, isn’t it? It’s really difficult to know what’s optimal. :barnie

Mine are confined most of the work week and free range (with access to their feed, too) most of the weekend.
 

MANNA-PRO

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