Protein Level Advice for Dual Purpose Dinner Cockerels

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Maeschak, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. Maeschak

    Maeschak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    I have a small bunch of dual purpose (Delaware) cockerels that I will be eating when the time is right. They live in their own bachelor pad and can pasture every day all day but at 9.5 weeks they rarely do. (Meaning, they have ample opportunity to forage but dont- they stick by the feeder stuffing their faces all day).

    Does anyone have any advice for appropriate protein levels for DP Heritage table birds? They are currently still on 22% chick starter as I had lots left over after their brooding but am wondering if this is a bit too high for their age. I have plenty of three grain scratch I can mix in to lower the protein if necessary (and stretch the feed seeing as they have become quite the piggies).

    The Livestock Conservancy site has extremely high (in my opinion) protein levels, so I am just wondering if anyone has any advice. Is it worth it to keep letting them eat 22% protein or should/could I lower it until butcher time? Or do they need more perhaps?

    Thanks so much!
  2. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Living in a galaxy far, far away...

    If you want them to forage more then lower the protein in their feed to around 16%. This way they will need to go out and forage to get more on their own. If you read Greenfire Farm's page on the American bresse, you could take a few notes from them. Not all of them are do-able for the simple backyard chicken owner, but I got a few good ideas for the future from them.
  3. Maeschak

    Maeschak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    I don't really need them to forage more. I just don't know if 22% is more than they need and thus it is either going right through them or harming them in some way. If a DP Heritage breed can handle more than 22% then that is something I should consider doing if it would be beneficial for the table. (I have read opinions going both ways and both seem to have reasonable merit which is why I could use more advice).

    I have read Greenfire's info on their Bresse- I don't really see much about feeding/raising them beyond pasturing (which mine are) and finishing them with grain and dairy so Im probably looking in the wrong place. Ill keep looking for further info from them.
  4. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Living in a galaxy far, far away...

    I don't think that 22% protein would hurt them.
  5. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    Of all the things that could hurt them, I wouldn't put protein on the list.

    They'll get more utility out of that than adding carbs, and the mechanism by which protein is processed by the body doesn't lead to the amount of fat that would be added to the carcass by upping carbs, which are more readily stored as fat.
  6. Maeschak

    Maeschak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    Great, thanks so much for both of your input- very helpful. Ill just keep it at 22 and see what happens. I had a small batch a few months ago where I lowered the protein and have their butcher weights so I will chalk this up to an experiment.

    Thanks to the both of you!
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Will you butcher these at same age as others for the 'experiment'?
    Hope you post your results here.
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'd be interested in seeing your results.

    I'll be hatching in the spring again, which here means raising cockerels for the table. Mine are more production bred birds, so not especially meaty to start with. I feed everyone an all in one that's (I think) 19%. I do supplement with grain from time to time, haven't really noticed much difference overall. I was thinking to try a higher protein feed, maybe broiler or turkey, on the next batch and see if it makes any difference. Since most of mine are limited by genetics (simply excess cockerels from egg-laying breeds), I'm not expecting a ton. But I do have some nice breeder quality Marans I'll be growing out if the hatching deities smile on me, and those boys have the potential to get nice and large.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator

    I agree. I would doubt that excess protein levels (even if 22% would be considered so) would cause any acute symptoms and they won't be around for too long, so any possible chronic problems are irrelevant.
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I use 20% and that's because it's the only option. If I could use a little more protein I would and would not feed less than that. Local feed company here jumps from 20% to 27% for Turkey starter and that would be more than needed to grow chickens. Meat bird, turkey grower and chicken starter are all 20%, the Turkey grower is in pellet form so is what my chickens get. Low calcium all flock type feed.

    I think 22% is darn optimal and 24% would do well too but may start to be wasteful. If the same price for feed would go as high as 24%. The birds do very well on 20% and at under $13 per 50# bag I have no need to switch. There is a member here that starts DP chicks on 26-28% and then goes to 22-24% as a grower. That's the most I've seen someone use. They've been doing it for years with no ill effect. I don't see anything wrong with more protein but do if the costs rise too much for it. Theirs a point your paying for protein enriched poop. A what percentage that is I don't know.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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