Should I Feed Laying Hens Higher Protein?


10 Years
Jul 14, 2009
Stark County, NE Ohio
I have five laying hens. I wrote a post awhile ago saying I thought they looked to be losing weight a little after they started laying. Someone mentioned using a higher protein feed. Like turkey feed? Or is that too high. I thought about worming them to be safe but am not sure if they have worms. Their poo is normal, no mites or skin rashes of any sort. Would it be ok to worm if I am not sure they have worms? They have never been wormed. They don't act sick at all, free range part of the day, are fed layer mash. My hubby says they look fine but they seem somewhat skinnier to me. Would it hurt to give them a higher protein for awhile? So my two questions are, what high protein feed and for how long, and should I worm to be safe. They have access to feed all day, never go without. Hope someone can give me some advice. Thanks.
As to worming with no indication of worms, here's what My Pet Chicken's Help Section has to say -

"If your chickens have worms, you will want to treat them. Some signs you can look for at home are pale combs, a drop in laying and watery poo. However, it does no good to worm your flock--even on a seasonal schedule--unless you know precisely what type of infestation they are suffering from.

Keep in mind that particular wormers are only useful for particular parasites, so it is best to get a diagnosis as to which you are addressing. That way you will know which wormer will help their condition. Otherwise, you simply may be stressing their systems out by giving them a medication that does not treat the issue they have. For instance, tape worms and round worms are treated by different anthemintics (wormers), so if your chickens have roundworms, using a wormer for tape will not address the problem at all. And worse, it can conceivably make your birds sicker from the stress of medication they don't need. You will not want to worm your flock at all unless they actually have worms AND you know which parasites you are treating them for.

Your veterinarian will be able to perform a fecal smear and tell you what parasites your flock may be suffering from. Avian vets can be hard to find, but in many cases, any vet can perform a smear for you, whether they treat birds/chickens or not. Extension agents will sometimes make this service available, as well, and in most cases, you can find someone to do a smear for a nominal fee.

If you find your flock has an infestation, then you can treat them with the right anthelmintic; your extension agent or vet will be able to recommend the best medication for your flock's particular issue. If your flock is clear of a significant problem, you will know that if your birds are showing signs of illess, it must be due to a cause other than worms."

Good advice!
If a hen weighs, about 4 1/2 pounds (2,000 grams) and lays an egg that weighs 60 grams - that egg is 3% of the hen's body weight.

This would be the same as a woman of 130 pounds giving birth to a baby that weighs 4 pounds.

Every Day!!! Can't be easy . . .

Increasing their protein will not necessarily build more muscle. It isn't likely to add more fat.

Good nutritious food - all they want of it - and those nutrients in excess of their needs, they will turn into eggs.

Your question about additional protein ... I wondered the same thing. I just started mixing 1 bag of Layer Pellets (16%) and 1 bag of Flock Raiser (20%). They have the same amount of calcium, and I think a little more protein is warrented at times.

I follow the twice a year worming as recommended by many on BYC. If I understand correctly, there are wormers that kill ALL worms. Here is a link with a worming program, and explanation (an excellent thread you may want to bookmark!):
Kathyinmo: Thanks. I'll look into that link. I figure, why not worm winter is coming and laying will taper off soon. I read you shouldn't eat the eggs for two weeks after you worm. So if it's tapering off anyways it seems a good time to do it. Thanks for the link!!!
We feed Purina Layena, plenty of garden scraps, peanut treats, and let them out to forage most afternoons. We've got large brown-egg birds (mostly RIR, RIR mutts, and sex links), and they generally lay a large egg nearly daily on this diet.

Are you feeding often enough each day, or do you have issues with some birds being crowded out from the feeder at feeding times?

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