Safe limits for protein in feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dancingbear, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,836
    28
    191
    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    An article in the current issue of Grit states that to get a better growth rate in dual purpose/heritage breed birds for meat, you have to feed them at least 38% protein. I've never heard that before, and it seems awfully high to me. Also hard to achieve, without getting pretty pricey on the feed.

    Do any of you know what the safe limits are for protein in feed, both for birds being raised for meat, and in layers/breeders? What happens with birds getting too much protein?

    ETA: I re-read the article, and it says 28%, not 38%. I don't know how that transmuted to 38% in my brain. The questions are still relevant, though, it's still info I need. Thanks, all!
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  2. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

    4,394
    33
    253
    Mar 23, 2008
    Bailey, Mississippi.
    double post.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  3. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

    4,394
    33
    253
    Mar 23, 2008
    Bailey, Mississippi.
    I've heard 16-18 is ideal. Anything over will burn them up...I wouldn't try 38% at all. People don't even like feeding cat and dog food because of the protein amount which is only in the low twenties..
     
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,119
    18
    201
    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Jenny, were they using Homestead Chick-En-Egg Concentrate?

    The little blurb on the Grit website on their group processing broilers says that Homestead feeds were used.

    The "concentrate is a nutrient dense and carefully balanced product which allows the use of local grains to make rations. . . "

    This concentrate is a great idea but note that it is supposed to be formulated with local grains. That would reduce the overall protein in the bird's daily ration.

    Steve
     
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    That is made to be mixed with something else, I bet. I only use as high as 22% for badly molting birds, no higher.
     
  6. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    Many birds seem to thrive on something around 16-20% protein and smaller birds (liek gamebirds) seem to need protein in the mid-20% range. Honestly, whatever they can't utilize will be eliminated by the kdineys so if you are spending extra for all that protein it's like flushing money down the toilet...or burying it in the compost pile!
     
  7. jenjscott

    jenjscott Mosquito Beach Poultry

    3,701
    12
    223
    May 24, 2008
    Southeast Arkansas
    The American Livestock Breed Conservancy recommends 28% for heritage breeds, (at least for growing) their study was done on Buckeyes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  8. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,836
    28
    191
    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Quote:Thanks, Jenjscott. I wonder if the 38% was a typo. 38% would be hard to even get. Even if you mixed soy bean meal and a 16% feed, half and half, that would be around 32%. I would never want to feed that much soy, anyway. I bet it was supposed to say 28%.

    Quote:What do you mean, "burn them up"? Can you be a little more specific about what would actually happen?

    Somebody on another thread posted a quote from an older published list of poultry nutrients. It said "Excess protein has a forcing effect which may be detrimental to poultry of any age. ", but it didn't say what a "forcing effect" is, and I don't know what they meant, either.

    I guess I need specifics! Thanks!

    digitS' :

    Jenny, were they using Homestead Chick-En-Egg Concentrate?

    The little blurb on the Grit website on their group processing broilers says that Homestead feeds were used.

    The "concentrate is a nutrient dense and carefully balanced product which allows the use of local grains to make rations. . . "

    This concentrate is a great idea but note that it is supposed to be formulated with local grains. That would reduce the overall protein in the bird's daily ration.

    Steve

    The article didn't say what they were using, they just said for heritage breeds being raised for meat, at least 38% protein. But I'm thinking it may be typo. That just seems way too high, to me. I haven't gone to the Grit website, just read the article in the mag.

    Thanks, all who responded. I'll try bumping it up to 24%, and see how that does. My hens are all molting right now anyway, maybe it'll help them get through faster, and maybe my excess young cockerels will put on some flesh before we butcher them.​
     
  9. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    4,654
    31
    251
    Jun 15, 2008
    I don't know about chickens specifically but excess protein in other animals and livestock causes rapid growth in young animals leading to skeletal issues and weak joints. The protein pushes them to grow when they don't have enough other nutrients to build bones and other structures while also not giving the body enough time to make those things. In adults it's mostly just an overall cause of stress and therefore weakness and an opportunity for illnesses to take over. Eliminating the extra protein from the body puts stress on many internal organs and increases the need for water to aid that process as well as leading to concentrated urine that can cause bladder infections in mammals. I'm not sure what the differences in avian anatomy would end up causing but I would assume the overall effect of just stressing everything is the same.

    However I do not think you are likely to reach a level of protein that is too high for chickens without running into other health issues with the ingredients used first. The effects of excess protein are mostly seen in grazing herbivores that evolved to need little protein. Attempts to make horses and cattle grow faster or bulk up for the show ring by loading them with high protein grain mixes (by high protein we mean anything over about 15%) is the most common example. Omnivores and carnivores can generally handle higher protein levels and since protein is the most expensive part of feed I'd bet the levels in chicken feed are on the lowest end that will keep them growing and laying well. Personally I like 22-24%. Mine have done best with feeds in that range but it means I have to buy something not made specifically for chickens. I'd bet you could go considerably higher before you'd see any negative impact on their health but I also doubt going much higher would be beneficial. There's a large gap in between all the protein an animal needs to be healthy and enough protein to cause problems eliminating the excess.
     
  10. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

    4,394
    33
    253
    Mar 23, 2008
    Bailey, Mississippi.
    Quote:Thanks, Jenjscott. I wonder if the 38% was a typo. 38% would be hard to even get. Even if you mixed soy bean meal and a 16% feed, half and half, that would be around 32%. I would never want to feed that much soy, anyway. I bet it was supposed to say 28%.

    Quote:What do you mean, "burn them up"? Can you be a little more specific about what would actually happen?

    Somebody on another thread posted a quote from an older published list of poultry nutrients. It said "Excess protein has a forcing effect which may be detrimental to poultry of any age. ", but it didn't say what a "forcing effect" is, and I don't know what they meant, either.

    I guess I need specifics! Thanks!

    digitS' :

    Jenny, were they using Homestead Chick-En-Egg Concentrate?

    The little blurb on the Grit website on their group processing broilers says that Homestead feeds were used.

    The "concentrate is a nutrient dense and carefully balanced product which allows the use of local grains to make rations. . . "

    This concentrate is a great idea but note that it is supposed to be formulated with local grains. That would reduce the overall protein in the bird's daily ration.

    Steve

    The article didn't say what they were using, they just said for heritage breeds being raised for meat, at least 38% protein. But I'm thinking it may be typo. That just seems way too high, to me. I haven't gone to the Grit website, just read the article in the mag.

    Thanks, all who responded. I'll try bumping it up to 24%, and see how that does. My hens are all molting right now anyway, maybe it'll help them get through faster, and maybe my excess young cockerels will put on some flesh before we butcher them.

    No idea how to explain "burns them up" either. Which is why i said it in those words, I was told that's what it does by someone who has researched breeds and poultry through-and-through. So just a negative effect "burning them up" was enough for me to not really question it anymore. I'll see about asking and may get back to you..​
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by