Protein for laying hens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Gammond, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. Gammond

    Gammond Chillin' With My Peeps

    140
    6
    61
    Aug 31, 2016
    Simple question. How much protein should be in their layer ration? 15%? 19%? I am having a hard time finding a post that states this. I have a lot smaller mixed breeds and also some Isa browns... I am not into mixing a whole bunch of foods together to come up with some magic feed. I am hoping one of our feed stores has something proper in Stock.
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    28,690
    14,834
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    The layers food I use has 15% protein - seems to be the industry standard here, but my flock do free range and I give them a little millet, as scratch food.
     
  3. Wickedchicken6

    Wickedchicken6 No Rest For The WicKed Premium Member

    6,176
    6,823
    416
    Nov 7, 2015
    Southwestern MB, Canada
    Lol...I just went through this with my vet and the feed specialist.
    For my case;
    I have heritage breeds (no production layers or meat breeds)
    I have different sizes...Old English Game Bantams all the way up to large EE/Marans
    I have a lot of roosters
    I have a steady flow of chicks that I hatch

    I have been and will continue feeding 20-21% chick starter spring/summer/fall until they're done molting.
    For the winter I plan on switching to a 16% grower/finisher for the hens.
    My vet says the higher protein wouldn't hurt the girls, BUT the excess urea will be excreted as manure, which is not only a waste but it'll cause the more issues in regards to smell in the coop.

    Both vet and feed specialist were concerned that I could experience egg shell quality issues. But when I told them my eggs bounce when I throw them across the lawn, they figured I'd be fine. If not, I'm to give oyster shell.

    Here our layer rations have approx. the same amount of protein.(17%) I've chosen not to give layer because of the chicks and the roosters. I supplement with other grains (wheat and millet mainly) throughout the year so the higher protein helps balance the protein overall. I'm like you...I don't want 10 different feeds. I'll be watching to see how everyone makes out on the grower/finisher food this winter.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Gammond

    Gammond Chillin' With My Peeps

    140
    6
    61
    Aug 31, 2016
    What i
    What is your reason for feeding them the higher protein in the non-winter months?

    I plan on doing the same thing... switching them all to grower with oyster shell supplement for the winter. I also have a pretty mixed flock.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    28,690
    14,834
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I just opened a bag of growers mash to find that the protein level is lower than layers (by 1%, but still). Seems that starter feed is the best option here - pure madness!
     
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    20,849
    4,066
    421
    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    When you've got birds of different ages, stages, and genders, it's much easier and simpler to just offer one feed for everyone. The layer feed is usually about 15% to 16% protein, which is the minimum amount needed for egg production. But it's not enough for birds that are growing, or molting. Also, if you free range, or give treats frequently, you risk protein deficiencies which can lead to egg eating and feather picking. And the high calcium levels can be seriously damaging to the kidneys of non-laying birds.
    There are just so many drawbacks for small flock owners, I've never seen the sense in feeding layer. As long as the flock has access to a calcium source, there really is no need for it. And most flocks produce much better on a grower or even starter feed.
     
    2 people like this.
  7. Wickedchicken6

    Wickedchicken6 No Rest For The WicKed Premium Member

    6,176
    6,823
    416
    Nov 7, 2015
    Southwestern MB, Canada
    Funny isn't it? We don't have much for options where I live either. It's starter, grower/finisher or layer.


    Gammond - I've chosen to feed them the higher protein in the non winter months because I'm hatching out chicks all the time...and anything I keep for replacements gets turned out into the flock. It just makes it so much easier if I already have chick starter in the feeder. I also find it great when they molt. That was another question from my vet; if the pick at each other. They don't and they don't pick feathers either. I figure that's because of the higher protein. My chicks or adult birds don't pick at all. I never have issues with that.

    But with that being said...I'm aware that my adult flock doesn't much like the prepared feeds. A substantial amount of their diet is the millet, wheat and rye that I'm giving them. They are also free range on the farm yard.

    Lol...now you've got me thinking about that choice to convert to grower. Maybe I should be feeding the starter all year, just to balance the amount of regular grain they get. I'll have to look up the protein values of millet and wheat and rethink this.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Gammond

    Gammond Chillin' With My Peeps

    140
    6
    61
    Aug 31, 2016
    The starter I have access to is the very finely ground stuff for chicks... it's the same price as layer. Do you think this is ok?
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    20,849
    4,066
    421
    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Finely ground is fine. They may have an easier time eating it if you wet it.
     
  10. FoodFreedomNow

    FoodFreedomNow Chillin' With My Peeps

    x2 - used to feed layer when the mixed flock was comprised of adults, but with roosters and drakes and various ages in the mix now, layer doesn't work for my flock. I can also get non-GMO chick starter at the local feed mill, but not a non-GMO grower/flock raiser.

    My birds are healthy, and the higher protein has helped during their molt (still going on now). With free choice oyster shells, their eggshells are nice and hard (though I wouldn't try throwing them across the yard - lol!) I ferment their feed, BTW...no waste there because the powder and crumbs just get mixed in.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by