More protein?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by burkechicken, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. burkechicken

    burkechicken Out Of The Brooder

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    So 3 weeks ago I noticed feather eating so I cut out the treats and went from 16% layer feed to 18% feather fixer both by nutrena. Yesterday I noticed a chicken eating a feather off the coop floor. I see the feed store has a feed that's 20 or 22% protein and I forget the brand but it says it's complete nutrition for free ranging hens. My birds don't free range much in the winter. What do you think. Switch errr no
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Think of it this way. Feathers are almost all protein. so, a feather on the floor might be a good thing to recycle. If they've stopped feather picking from each other, they may be doing ok, protein wise. What are you doing for stress busters? I've been sprouting grains and tossing them in the DL of the run. They love those little green nibbles. But, those sprouts will pull their total protein down a bit. It's a trade off between giving them stuff to scratch for, and giving them the higher protein feed. Perhaps you could give them some scratch or sprouts, and add a bit of animal protein to offset it. Just be sure you make them work for the goodies by digging through the litter.
     
  3. burkechicken

    burkechicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes I throw some scratch and they do free range just not as much as when there is no snow on the ground
     
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is not about % protein. It is about the proper amounts of essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Birds don't need "protein", they need the essential amino acids. If birds are eating feathers, they are probably short methionine:

    http://articles.extension.org/pages/69042/synthetic-methionine-and-organic-poultry-diets

    Look at the bag tag of whatever it was you were feeding, and what Feather Fixer has in it. Most likely it will show more methionine.

    And yes, if you were giving too many treats, and they were eating those instead of their feed, they might come up short and start craving what they need and set about finding it.

    OTOH, I wonder long kids would eat nothing but marsh mellows before they ask for something else?
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    It's my understanding that the feather fixer was just 2% more protein than layer. I would like to know if you don't mind... if what Howard E says is a factor in the feather fixer. Do you mind seeing if you can find that nutrient and what the levels are? That way I won't be spreading a false hood, please.

    However.... if they are short on protein, and I'm guessing they were from what you describe.... more protein would have more amino acids... so, maybe if it does have more of that in the feather fixer... how do you know it didn't come from the more protein? [​IMG] I'm being sincere here, because it's important to me to figure out how certain things work. Not trying to be argumentative. [​IMG]

    And as an over thinker... I consider way too many possibilities about a lot of things that sometimes sets my mind a spinin'. My desire is for the truth though!

    I personally feed my flock Purina Flock Raiser which is 20% protein because I have mixed gender and ages of birds and obviously too much calcium for non layers such as ladies in molt, roosters and chicks can (doesn't mean will) be detrimental in the long term to their kidney function. I always provide oyster shell on the side. Yes they do free range. So while they may be eating bugs and grasses or other plants, I have not true control over their diet... but most plants I have are gonna be lower than that 16% protein even. The higher protein feed is usually offset by lower amounts of calcium. But I have seen one that offset it with a lower amount of fat which I think is already only around 3.5%. And the brain and body actually do require some fat to function... some vitamins and minerals are only fat soluble for example. Makes you wonder about the fat free dieters.

    Not ALL feather eating is lack of protein or amino acids, IMO. And sometimes not from boredom either. I see the birds eat an occasional feather here and there like when they're preening or cleaning something off of a flock mate, but have no signs of pecking just to eat feathers. So knowing your flock and situation.... make the best decision you can with the clues you have.

    I especially think more protein is important during molt, because as stated, feathers are actually 90% protein. Why make the body work harder than needed?

    Speaking of head spinning possibilities... it could also be a space issue. Especially in winter when they all cram inside during wet weather. How many birds in what size coop do you have? How old are your birds?

    I would think 3 weeks would be long enough to correct a nutritional deficiency.... And you say you are seeing some improvement?

    My birds love a hanging head of broccoli, just out of their reach so they have to jump for it. I also do sprouting, sometimes to the fodder stage and feed instead of scratch which is essentially the candy bar of the chicken world, they love it but it has very little nutrients. Another this is I ferment my feed, which does make the nutrients more bio available... check out the link in my signature line if you like. [​IMG] I highly recommend it, JUST the difference it made in the consistency and smell of the poo was the deciding factor for me to stick with it. And since my birds get only FF free choice, when I spill any regular feed, they go crazy like it's scratch... but it still has the nutrients. Heck I may even by a bag of pellets just do do that, since crumbles is what I normally use.

    Do you have an area they can still dirt bath during bad weather? Or a deep litter or compost pile for them to scratch around in? With more than 40 birds, I haven't yet been able to put enough stuff out to get a compost pile going. With a family of only three our kitchen scraps don't go far... with the exception of things I leave big like onion tops. Yay, a pile of onion tops! [​IMG]

    Good luck!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    What do you mean by “feather-eating”? It is absolutely totally normal for a chicken to eat a feather floating around, that is not a problem at all. It’s when they start eating feathers off of each other that it’s a problem. I’ll call that feather picking. Feather picking can possibly lead to cannibalism so that is not a good thing.

    There are several different possible causes of feather picking. Overcrowding is a leading cause. Bright lights or excessive lights can lead to feather picking. They need a certain amount of darkness or different behavioral problems can develop, as well as problems with the eggs. If they are kept too warm it can lead to problems like feather picking. Nutrition can also be a problem. Birds with weird feathers like Polish with their headdresses or Silkies with their strange feathers are more prone to be picked on. With chickens there is always something else but that’s the main ones I can think of.

    If they are just eating feathers floating around you don’t have a problem. If they are picking feathers off of each other, well you can see how you are keeping them. Maybe the stuff above can give you some ideas. Good luck!
     
  7. burkechicken

    burkechicken Out Of The Brooder

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    The butt feathers are missing on the barred rock but not the rir. They are 9 months old. Do not heat the coop and is well vented. 11 birds in a 10ft by 8ft coop. I built a dust bath for them in the coop filled with wood ash and d.e. they also have oyster shells on the side. Their bottoms are starting to look better. I don't think it's from more protein because it started before I switched to the 18% I will check label and get back to you
     
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I dislike DE very much and feel it is harmful to the chickens respiratory system as well as my own. If it is microscopic sharp stuff meant to make tiny cuts and dehydrate bugs, what is it doing on the way through the nostrils and lungs?.... but we all have our own ways that work for us. I would think just the wood ash would be effective enough. [​IMG]

    How big is your run? Your coop is very tight! We usually have our dirt bathing areas separate form coop space. Also, in that space do you keep their feeder and water? Are the lay boxes within that space or on the outside of it? Do you leave the door open even if YOU think the weather is bad? What breeds do you have, some are more aggressive than others? And how much roost space? Any cockerels? Have you checked for any other parasites like lice or mites which is sometimes indicated by over preening? Which could cause feather quality issues or even bald spots? (I wouldn't expect that to magically get better though since you said you have already seen improvement) I'm asking just as clues to help diagnose the situation and help... not to judge. [​IMG]

    Awesome that you don't add heat!

    Hah, I live on Burke! [​IMG]

    ETA: Do you provide extra light as mentioned by Ridge Runner? Good question!
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  9. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To elaborate on what I referenced, go back and review the link one more time. Not only where these amino acids come from but what happens to the birds when they are short of lacking in sufficient amounts:

    http://articles.extension.org/pages/69042/synthetic-methionine-and-organic-poultry-diets

    Protein is made up of amino acids. For argument's sake, lets say there are 10 of them.Once consumed, the body dismantles the group "protein" into the component parts (amino acids) before it reformulates the component parts (amino acids) back into its own body specific proteins. The body can use some amino acids as is. For others, it needs to break those down and rearrange the parts into something else. But for others it can't. If the original source of protein does not contain them as is, and if the body lacks the ability to rearrange the parts to synthesize them, then those have to be provided from some other source. Lets say after all the fireworks go off, you have 8 of the amino acids you need to put things back together, but still lack the other 2. Those are the essential amino acids. By essential, that means they have to be provided from some other source in a pure form.

    The point being % protein is misleading. What matters is where the protein came from and what amino acids it contains and brings with it.

    Since the protein in most commercial layer rations comes from corn and soybeans, which lack these essential amino acids (lysine and methionine) in sufficient amounts, they have to come from some other source. Most of the time those come from a synthetic source.

    If you look at the labels for Nutrena's layer feed and feather fixer, you see that not only has the % protein been boosted, but so have the % levels of lysine and methionine.

    https://www.nutrenaworld.com/product/naturewise-layer-16-crumble

    https://www.nutrenaworld.com/product/naturewise-feather-fixer-poultry-feed

    Below is the bag tag listing the ingredients for Purina's Layena, which is similar to Nutrena's layer feed. Note the ingredient's list. It includes supplemental lysine and methionine.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    @Howard E Thanks for the info... I will totally look at it more closely as soon as I get a chance today.

    Like I said, understanding how and why things work (when I care) really helps me to make the best decisions! [​IMG]
     

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