Q: What’s the difference between a complete layer feed and a feed that I mix myself?

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by JenniO11, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. JenniO11

    JenniO11 Chirping

    Jan 11, 2012
    A: A complete feed is formulated to provide all of the nutrients your bird requires for long-term health and nutritious eggs. It may be difficult to provide all of the nutrients needed through a homemade mix or scrap feed.

    For hens 18 weeks and older, look for a complete feed that includes:
    • 16% (minimum) protein level
    • Lysine and methionine, essential amino acids
    • Calcium, manganese and trace minerals for strong shells
    • Fortified with vitamins, trace minerals and essential amino acids
    • Prebiotics, probiotics and yeast for hen health
    At least 90 percent of your flocks’ diet should come from a complete feed. If desired, the remaining 10 percent can come from supplemental feeds, such as scratch grains, table scraps or treats.
  2. Betsy57

    Betsy57 Songster

    Mar 31, 2011
    Murphysboro IL USA
    I have an issue with companies claiming their feed is "complete". If so, then why do you read in so many places to provide extra calcium for layers? Why should I even have to supplement the "complete" feed with calcium for strong shells? I have to and so do millions of others using "complete" feeds. So, all the feeds claiming to be "complete" are not.
  3. DrMikelleRoeder

    DrMikelleRoeder Chirping

    Nov 3, 2014
    Hi Betsy!

    So sorry for the delayed response!

    There are several circumstances where supplemental calcium sources would be recommended, even though a complete feed is being fed. In general complete layer feeds should contain higher levels of calcium, manganese and phosphorus to support eggshell integrity, and additional calcium would not be necessary. However, if someone is feeding a mixed flock of different species and/or ages of birds, then their complete feed may be a starter or grower product, in which case supplemental calcium would be critical for any birds that were laying.

    Calcium supplementation may be necessary if the birds’ diet contains excessive levels of treats, scratch grains, greens and scraps, which can create nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. Too much extraneous feed in the diet will dilute the nutrient profile of the prepared feed, making some essential nutrients present in inadequate concentrations.

    Sometimes environmental situations may necessitate supplementation with oyster shell. When temperatures are very hot and humid, birds will decrease their feed intake, so supplemental calcium at that time may help to maintain egg shell quality until normal feed intake is restored. Health issues such as parasitism or other subclinical issues may impair a bird’s ability to absorb nutrients. Inadequate feeder space or targeted aggression may keep some birds from being able to eat enough.

    So, while feeds may be complete, situations in which they are fed can vary widely, which can then sometimes necessitate the feeding of supplemental products to help maintain productivity. However, the best scenario for optimal productivity is healthy, unstressed birds being fed at least 90% of their ration as a complete feed designed for their life stage.
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