has anyone used fish meal

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by hotcacti, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. hotcacti

    hotcacti New Egg

    Aug 17, 2008
    I read on another site that one of the highest protein supplements you can give chickens is fish meal and that it is actually good for them because they are naturally omnivores and need both animal and vegetable protiens. I mentioned it to a friend and she says no, they should only eat a vegetable based diet. I pointed out that they normally eat bugs and worms when they are available to forage, but she thinks they will not produce as healthy of eggs if given animal products. Anyone have a suggestion? I need to get more eggs from my girls in the winter. I am down to one egg a day from 10 chicks! ugh! It is not feasible to put a light in for more daylight, so I am hoping the extra protien will help some.

    so, back to my question -- does anyone out there use fish meal? Is is affordable? How much do you feed and how?

    Thanks! Trish.
  2. pop57

    pop57 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2008
    Mount Sterling, Ky
    You are correct chickens need protein, But from your question light is probably the answer, if your coop is to far away for elec. you might look in one of those solar security lights. I know Harbor Freight sells them.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    It's probably the light. Although if they are moulting, protein can help them finish faster and get back to laying. On adding light to increase production, you'll probably get multiple views depending on if the flock is pet or production. If you're replacing them in a few years with more layers, light away, but if you want to keep for their life time (10= years) as pets, there is some correlation with increased laying problems later in life due to light.
  4. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    Chickens are not vegetarians. Shessh. Now, is fish meal good for them? Not sure.
  5. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

    May 11, 2008
    Howell Michigan
    Could fish meal affect the taste of the eggs and if it does could you sell the eggs as giant caviar? [​IMG][/img]
  6. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    I would venture to guess that fish meal will produce fishy eggs, unless it is just a little. There are other sources of good protein...I feed the scraps from the broth pot, bones mashed with a potato masher after simmering for 24 hours or so. The girls reward me with more eggs in the winter. In the summer, they stuff themselves with bugs all day long and lay lots of eggs.

    You can raise worms in a bin in your basement or a cupboard if you are a purist....If you are not squeamish, and there is a butcher or meat processer nearby, you can get things like beef or pork heart, tongue, liver even, that will get tossed because people tend to not eat that anymore and if they bring in a cow for butchering it gets tossed in the trash. My dad gets some, but I am not ready to deal with that....yet.

    And no, chickens are NOT vegetarians, no matter what ridiculous things are printed on the cartons at the grocery store! And a purely vegetarian diet can be fed to a battery hen because she will not need to live past her second year, if she gets that far.
  7. CK Chickadilly

    CK Chickadilly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 11, 2008
    West Michigan
    Quote:[​IMG] good one! [​IMG]

    I wonder if you use fish meal, maybe traces of fish get into the eggs & cause a problem for people allergic to fish? [​IMG] My DH is allergic to fish.
  8. hotcacti

    hotcacti New Egg

    Aug 17, 2008
    All good thoughts from you guys... thanks for the input. Yes... I had thought about the taste possibly imparting on the eggs from the fish meal... I thought maybe I would just use a little.

    Also, mines are not really pets..... well, sort of, but not really. We don't hug, cuddle, pet the chickens, etc. But, I'm more interested in their overall health than massive egg production. I just have a small flock, and the eggs from them are just for us to use... not to sell or anything.

    I have not added a light because my initial thoughts were not to because that is the way nature works -- with less light in the winter, less eggs, a little rest on their bodies, etc.

    If that is the only reason we are not getting any eggs, then that is o.k. But, if it is because they are protein deficient, then I worry I am not taking care of them properly.

    But, I feed them a layer ration -- full choice. So, I guess that is sufficient protein, even without it having any from an animal source?

    Any more thoughts?

    This morning I had my boy feed my chicks a concoction of mixed up chicken broth, oatmeal, a little cooked carrots, and a scoop of meat based dog food mixed in.

    Wondering if that boost of protein will yield anything today?
  9. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Sounds like a yummy breakfast for your hens! But whether it is a boost of protein depends on what the ratios of energy foods to protein foods was. The oatmeal and the carrots are the energy foods and the dogfood (obviously!) was the protein food.

    It is a bit of algebra.....the weight of each food and the protein value must be considered. All dogfood is not created equal, and it is often fairly low in actual meat, often lots of corn and rice, etc.

    You can let your hens balance their own rations, but you must be fairly consistant and they need some time to adjust. I feed this way, wanting to avoid the risks of commercial feeds. But it is not for everyone. I did a LOT of research and found some cool studies done where the chickens were given choices. Their food was divided into two feeders, an energy mix (grains such as corn, oats, barley, etc all mixed together) and a protein mix (soy or a meat-based meal) in separate feeders. They also had grit and oystershell free-choice in separate containers.

    The chickens would adjust their ration themselves by choosing from the energy feed and the protein feed. So for energy, I feed a mixture of whole grains (you also need to do so gradually, giving them three weeks to develop strenth in their crops to grind the grains), which consists of what is available to me, but I try to get as much variety as I can. All grains have anti-nutrients, and if you feed too much of one grain they will have deficiencies. I also deal with this by soaking the grains for 12-24 hours in the winter when they have less choices on pasture.

    For the protein, I feed soymeal in a standard tube-style feeder. They ignore this when the bugs are plentiful. I give them cooked meat and bone scraps when the ground is frozen. They also ignore the soy at these times. I have not tracked it officially, but they seem to lay more eggs when they are getting more meat.
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Excessive fish meal does indeed cause an off taste in the eggs -- there is a fair bit of research published on this, from the commercial egg industry perspective -- and apparently there is also some genetic variation among chickens in how apt they are to pass the taste into the eggs. If you google I bet you could turn up info on the usual amounts of fish meal (i.e. amounts that may keep you below the taste threshold).

    Chickens are absolutely NOT vegetarians [​IMG]


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