How much difference does protein content of feed make in size of birds

chezpoulet

In the Brooder
9 Years
Dec 31, 2010
93
2
39
Redmond WA
My chickens are about 14-15 weeks old, and I thought they were doing well and growing up fast, until I visited my neighbor who had chicks 2 weeks younger than mine, and those were HUGE!! almost twice the size of my birds, and already with red combs and wattles. Their birds were a mix of Barred Rocks and Easter Eggers.

I bought starter feed 22% protein and followed directions by the feed supplier De Young's (local to the Seattle area) and switched them to 16 % grower after the recommended # of weeks. They are happy chickens, eating well, very healthy, but I am just curious as to the size difference- mine are doing their junior moult right now. I did read that giving them higher protein content feed may cause them to mature too fast and lead to egg laying problems? Just curious as to what you seasoned chicken owners think.

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Photos taken a couple of weeks ago.
 

CoyoteMagic

RIP ?-2014
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
7,459
38
283
only the shadow knows.....
more protein means they grow bigger, feather faster, etc....

I've never used a grower or finisher. Those are more for meat birds that you want to grow fast but not have to worry about them much after 10 -12 weeks when they are slaughtered.

I feed my chicks one bag of medicated starter then switch to Purina Flock Raiser. 20% protein. I feed it from that point on to all of my birds. I offer crushed oyster shell in a bowl if the chickens want it.
 

Dead Rabbit

Songster
9 Years
Apr 28, 2010
450
27
149
Virginia
bag of starter then switch over to layer pellets. which is %15 protein from SOUTHERN STATES. but i also mix cat food, dog food and other types of good quality animal protein in with their layer pellets at times. they need that animal protein and for some reason layer pellets are vegetarian only???

22% is to high IMO for layer breeds. a chicken will do fine on 13-14% protein. a little bit of dog/cat food that will boost the protein, every couple of days and they flourish. this is winter time feed im talkin about.

summer they should get plenty of protein from free ranging. if not able to free range, then keep feeding the mentioned winter feed. just costs you a lil more $$ to feed them
 

CoyoteMagic

RIP ?-2014
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
7,459
38
283
only the shadow knows.....
Layer pellets for chicks can cause damage as they contain too much calcium which the chicks don't need.

As for the need of extra protien, only thing I give my birds other than their "vegetarian" feed is extra eggs that are boiled or scrambled.
 

averytds

Songster
11 Years
Jul 9, 2008
1,165
7
163
KS
Around here, starter, gamebird, meatbird, basically anything higher protein than layer are all right in the same range. IME the extra protein can speed things up like feathering, but if the genetics aren't there to begin with they aren't going to do anything as far as increasing size.


Get a bad batch genetically of meatbirds and they aren't going to get as big or as fast as a good batch I don't think, no matter what you feed them. Unless both of your stock is from the same source, I don't think it's a fair comparison. I can cram protein till the cows come home or it gets overloaded and dies into a bantam, but it'll never be a standard. KWIM
 
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Dead Rabbit

Songster
9 Years
Apr 28, 2010
450
27
149
Virginia
i wonder what damage is caused by to much calcium?? any experiences? and i dont mean what is written on paper. ive read all that already.

a vegetarian diet is not natural. i know why the feed mills/companies advertise that. and mix accordingly. but still....not something that is a proper diet for fowl.
 

catdaddy66

Songster
10 Years
Nov 18, 2009
1,050
17
151
Lugoff, SC
Protein for growing chicks is essential for maximizing tissue formation and development in my opinion. I have kept my 10 month old layers on higher protein feed from day 1 (usually 18-22%) and they are very good sized hens. I personally think 15-16% is a bit on the low side for grown out birds that are mature in age, but definitely so for young birds under 3 months of age. Also, protein is needed for new feathers after molting and for egg production (the egg white or albumin is the purest form of protein on Earth, the standard all other protein is measured against) and should be 18% minimum. Again, this is my opinion, formed thru reading and discussion here on BYC and books I have read. Many members do what I do but many others do not and most of us have success raising our birds. As for me, I am a high protein kinda guy!
 

Fred's Hens

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
There is some discussion in the Ag and Poultry sciences that pushing young pullets from 8 to 20 weeks with intense protein and calories can hasten early onset egg laying before the necessary, fuller maturity of the pullet. The consensus is still forming, but the evidence SEEMS to indicate it might be better not to push the pellets too hard and too fast.

In light of that information, I purposely did not "push" my latest batch of pullets and they seemed two weeks late in onset of lay. No hard evidence, but I believe i am witnessing better size, maturity and greater over-all health.
 

chezpoulet

In the Brooder
9 Years
Dec 31, 2010
93
2
39
Redmond WA
Fred's Hens :

There is some discussion in the Ag and Poultry sciences that pushing young pullets from 8 to 20 weeks with intense protein and calories can hasten early onset egg laying before the necessary, fuller maturity of the pullet. The consensus is still forming, but the evidence SEEMS to indicate it might be better not to push the pellets too hard and too fast.

In light of that information, I purposely did not "push" my latest batch of pullets and they seemed two weeks late in onset of lay. No hard evidence, but I believe i am witnessing better size, maturity and greater over-all health.

Mine are layer juveniles, and I am not planning on switching to layer feed anytime soon (not till they start laying). I am inclined to let nature take its course, like Fred's Hens.

It was just an interesting observation as I did not realize how much faster they can grow with a higher protein feed!​
 

Organics North

Songster
10 Years
Dec 30, 2009
1,849
40
194
Wisconsin Northwoods
Quote:
Starter is higher protein than layer! So keeping them on starter longer is "pushing them" if protein is pushing..

IMO commercial feed is formulated to provide the minimum protein needed for optimal growth and performance not the maximum protein tolerated ...............

Me I make my own feed and free range. My feed is around 18-20% and the range is loaded with worms, insects and young shoots. All high protein stuff.

I am pleased with the size and performance of my heritage breeds.

(IMO if one does not want to "push birds" then do not provide artificial light in winter.)

ON
 

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