Protein % of feed.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Rangely, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. Rangely

    Rangely Out Of The Brooder

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    Stopped by the feed store and inquired about 20% feed. He asked "Why?" I responded that some of my hens have stopped laying this winter and I wanted to maybe jump start them back into action w/some extra protein. He asked about lighting & coop temp, to which I replied a warm coop and 5 extra hours of light. Although he was a bit perplexed by the lighting not working, he was convinced that increasing protein %, even just temporarily, wouldn't have any effect.

    Thoughts??
     
  2. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    I think uping your protein level for laying purposes would be hit and miss at best. It is best to give the hens a little rest during the winter as they start back up in the spring like gangbusters.

    AL
     
  3. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have read whee Calf Manna has been successful to jump start them after molt. It has high protein. Chooks have to regrow feathers before their body system will allow them to produce eggs. It is a natural protection for them to regrow feathers because cool weather follows molting season. Feather growth requires protein.

    Bugs are protein, so if you live in the deep south, take a large piece of sheet metal and coat it with a cheap corn syrup. Lay it on the ground in the run after dark. If you have palmetto bugs, you will find some stuck on it in the AM. Yum-yum ! The chooks will go nuts. Free treats and pest control all at one time. Oy vay! Such a deal!
     
  4. sommrluv

    sommrluv Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know I'm new, but when I picked up new birds (laying pullets), the hatchery specifically warned me they should never ever get anything below 18%. No one sells 18, only 20 here, and it's only .50 more. Within two days, the three birds I had, that weren't laying, started laying. I had a warm coop and extra light already as well.
     
  5. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    They shouldn't need high protein feed in the winter. They are eating more anyways due to the cooler weather and taking in more protein as the result of the increased consumption. On high protein feed they will start gaining weight and will lay increasingly larger eggs, which can be detrimental.

    When you say the coop is warm, how warm is it? Some birds will stop laying if the temperature varies a lot.
     
  6. sommrluv

    sommrluv Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Why would you say they don't need a high protein feed? Every chicken farmer locally has told me to add more protein, not add more feed.

    Warm...45-55 degrees. As compared to outside. It hasn't been very cold outside. If the water would freeze, I would use a heat lamp. Eggs haven't stopped regardless of the temperature.
     
  7. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    Quote:They only need a fixed amount of crude protein for maintenance and reproduction. Actually it's not a certain amount of crude protein that they need, but certain essential amino acids that the protein provides. At a certain level of crude protein they are getting the required amount of certain limiting amino acids, without which they wouldn't be able to process the rest of the protein. Once the required amount of the limiting amino acids is met, the hen is able to process the rest of the protein.

    Let's say a layer hen normally eats 120 grams of 17% feed per day. She is getting about 20 grams of crude protein per day. This is roughly what most layer hens need to maintain. If the weather cools off they start eating more feed to keep warm. As they use energy to keep warm, they eat more feed to replace that energy. Lets say your hen is now eating 160 grams to get the calories needed to keep warm. She is now getting 27 grams of protein, some of which is not needed as her needs were already met. The extra will cause her to put on weight, increase egg size, and beyond that the extra get passed on as uric acid. Excessive protein can lead to a smelly coop.

    Do I make any sense? They eat more in the winter and eating more gives them more protein.

    But, that being said, you can give it a try to see if it spurs them to start producing again, but I would switch back to a normal layer ration and not feed them higher protein feed all winter. Or you can continue feeding it to them and supplement a good amount of scratch to increase feed energy levels without increasing protein intake.

    Clear as mud?
     
  8. greathorse

    greathorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had some pullets that were messing around, and not laying. I also wanted to put a little more condition on them so, I did get some Calf Manna and they started laying within a few days.

    I would imagine it to be coincidental but I now give them about 5-10% of their ration in Calf Manna. They are doing well and I like the way the feed smells. Makes the whole barn smell good. Take this for what it is worth
     
  9. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    I wanted to add that most layer rations are formulated to be the sole source of food. If your hens are consuming large amounts of scratch or other low protein supplements in their diet it may take a higher protein feed to get them up to a sufficient protein intake.

    Let's say you have ten, 4 pound hens that are already on a somewhat low protein feed, say 16% econo feed. Those ten hens will eat 2.5 to 3.5 lbs per day depending on the weather. If you go outside and throw them a double handful of scratch, it can easily be over a pound of scratch which will cut their regular ration by a half to a third. That scratch being around 7% or 8% protein will cut the protein in today's ration to around 10% -13%.

    We get our feed custom ground and our feed supplier recommends no more than 1 lb of scratch per 100 birds per day. For ten birds that is 1/10th of a pound. Go measure that out and see what it looks like... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2009
  10. PAJerry

    PAJerry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have to agree with Mac on the protein. I got a bunch of left over pumpkins from a neighbor and although the chickens love to eat them, egg production dropped a lot. Not much protein in pumpkins. My normal feed is 18% and I supplement this with a 50-50 mix of wheat and BOSS sprouts for winter. Production was good until the pumpkin. Today is the last day they will be getting them. Live and learn I guess.
     

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