Thoughts about protein levels, corn, heat

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Tracydr, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just have an interesting observation to make and wonder if anybody else has noted something similar. My little city feed store was all out of chicken feed last week. No starter, grower, flock raiser or even layer. Not even game bird. Nothing except of course the medicated, which I dont want to use because I need to butcher my Cornish x's like, yesterday.
    Anyway, I bought some scratch, since I figure they get alfalfa hay, scraps, lots of green fresh Bermuda and veggies. Won't kill them for a few days until they're butchered, right?
    Well, here's the interesting part. My 9 week old Cornish cross Pullets, out in 109 degree heat, are suddenly acting like real chickens! They are foraging, scratching for bugs, moving around a lot more and, get this, they are only panting when the temperatures get north of about 108 degrees!!
    I was just outside, current temperature is well over 100 degrees, 40% humidity because we're going to get some rain.[​IMG]
    The Cornish crosses are digging through the weeds I gave them and scratching for bugs. Sure, they're wading in their wading pools to cool off. But, what they aren't doing is laying prostrate, panting their heads off! I'm wondering if the difference is the decreased total dietary protein? Not that I'm endorsing raising chickens on scratch, but wondering if 18-20% might be too much?
    I butchered two yesterday, dressed weight was over six pounds for each pullet. Considering they've really never seen a day below 100 degrees and I've not pushed them to grow, I've pasture fed them and forced them to move around, I thought that was a great dressed weight. Organs looked healthy and just a light amount of fat near the vent. I'm really pleased with the way the meat looks, can hardly wait to taste one.
    I'll roast one up tomorrow night and see how they taste!
  2. Blaineiac

    Blaineiac Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2011
    I'm not sure on the protien/corn deal, but I really liked the way my CX's did this summer. I fed mine morning and after work. The rest of the day they ranged pretty good. I have a 14 week cock who is still around as a buddy for my turkey. They both range good and come a running or waddleing for a bucket. This really got me thinking though. Thanks Blaine
  3. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm considering getting turkeys but I'll probably wait until we move out into the country and I can keep a more sustainable flock. I can't believe how expensive chicks are! Are turkeys a bit loud? I'm a little worried the neighbors would complain, although, I do know somebody down the street raises a few every year.
    I'd love to have a sustainable flock of Bourbon Reds and Standard Bronzes but don't have the space until we move. I'm already pushing it with 25 layers (if you really want to count the four Banties [​IMG]) and a batch or two of meats that I plan to have each year. Hoping the neighbors don't complain about my three cockerels as it is. At least they're really little (and that also means quieter) cockerels.
    I would never have raised meats through an AZ summer but Mcmurray sent me a bunch of Cornish Xs instead of my five different, heat tolerant, Meditterean breeds that I ordered. I thought it was a little strange when I had a batch of bout 24 big, yellow chicks and six little, bitty Banties. Was expecting all sorts of colors.
    At least they gave me great customer service and fixed the problem promptly. And, I got to start my meaty adventure just a little sooner than planned. This was good as it forced my husband into it with both feet. He's really on the fence about raising his own meat.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    I suspect that your birds are moving around more because they are hungry. There isn't nearly as much nutrition in scratch as in grower pellets.

    I don't think it will hurt them for a day or two before you butcher, but eventually, lack of protein will make them weak and they might cannibalize their own muscle tissue (I don't mean literally peck it off and eat it)

    Fat will slow them down when it is hot out. Protein shouldn't slow them down.
  5. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    The trouble with mostly scratch (grains) is they'll eventually try to eat more to make up for the lower nutrition base. This can result in a whole heap of cavity fat. So you have to be careful to balance it with overall protein and especially some of the sulphur based amino acids like methionine (vital for meat and feathering).

    In case you're interested, I raised Cornish x this year almost completely on legumes, sprouted grains and greens and oilseeds with kefir (soured milk) for extra amino acids. They feathered well (as well as any of the meat hybrids) so the methionine must have been right. I think the extra digestive work in processing whole seeds kept them full longer so they didn't tend to overeat as much as they do with commercial crumble. I was able to process the boys at supermarket weight at 11 weeks (slowed growth brought better flavour and fewer health problems). However I made a big mistake in using sweet lupins as a replacement for soy; I found out afterward it had damaged their livers. Cooked soy would have been better.

    best wishes
  6. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:This is very interesting. I've been interested in using at least a partially alfalfa and milk based diet, since alfalfa is very plentiful around here. My birds do have fresh alfalfa hay in front of them at all times and I'm planning to plant clover this fall.
    Picked up some flock raiser today but will mix it with the scratch grains until I finish butchering the last five. I'm looking for a good formula based on whole grains that I can use for my October batch of 25 broilers. I'm not happy with Purina feeds, the only brand besides the outrageously priced Modesto Organic that I can get around here so I'm thinking about mixing my own. I do have a good grain mill for grinding and can do about five pounds in a few minutes, easily. I'm going to call some of the bigger grain elevators that are within 90 miles of here and check prices on basic ingredients and see what I can come up with. I'm paying about 19-20$ for fifty pounds of flock raiser, more for starter right now. Hoping I can get that way down before I purchase my October batch.
    In the meantime, I'm trying to come up with a nice formula for my juvenile batch of layers, all good Mediterranean breeds, 6 weeks old. I have twenty five delinquents and would like to come up with a nice formula to get them off of the Purina feeds, as well.
    After seeing how well my dogs have done since I took them off the most expensive "complete" dog foods, I'm just really skeptical of commercial feeds. The quality and freshness of poultry feed is pretty low compared to dog and cat food, not to mention the use of GM soy and corn, which I'd like to start trying to avoid in my food chain.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  7. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    Quote:Hi Tracydr, thanks for the interest. Your goals sound very similar! I've also put my dog onto a home diet and was amazed -- not expecting it at all -- when her skin allergies cleared up. It wasn't something I set out to do, I just found myself throwing perfectly good high protein scraps away and thinking: heck, this is a waste.

    With the chicken feed, have you tried sprouts? Not early on of course -- chicks will have trouble even with sprouted whole grains, better to crack them as you say -- but as they grow, sprouting grains (wheat, peas and corn) can reduce some of the starch and increase availability of protein and vitamins. A shadecloth bag and a bucket are all you need to get going, plus somewhere to hang the bag away from rats. You will still need to add extras for crude protein and some particular amino acids, particularly methionine, and you'll need to supply fresh green feed for vitamins A and K and outdoor sunlight for D. The hardest part will be the protein, but it's do-able.

    I hope you don't mind if I mention (in case any newcomers are reading) that practically all feeds have toxins that limit their inclusion. Above the inclusion levels you'll definitely see lower growth and health issues. Some of these inclusion limits are quite low (e.g. alfalfa 10% by soaked weight; probably 5% leaf if dry; sunflower 4%; peas about 5%; meat meal about 4% for layers). Sorry, that's off the top of my head, but I think they're close to correct.

    Some of the 1930s and 1940s poultry books (when nutrition first became a science) are useful because they knew about requirements but didn't have access to fake vitamins and minerals (so they weren't able to feed the lowest quality feed and get away with it by pumping in synthetic chemicals like D,L Methionine). You can get good recipes off older books and of course off the web. I agree with you about GM soy, but its hard to find alternatives. Soured milk and meat meal can help, and of course insects.

    Back in the worst poverty times people fed chickens mashed potato and milk (exactly what they fed themselves). Somehow chickens survived, but the environment was probably richer in insects etc (less spray, more bushland). It's going to be interesting, to say the least, if we have to confront similar issues today. [​IMG]

    Good on you for looking outside the square. And good on BYC for allowing this kind of talk. Essentially it's about freedom, but it's not this way on every forum. [​IMG]
  8. eatmorechicken

    eatmorechicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2009
    Quote:Awesome post! thank you
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  9. eatmorechicken

    eatmorechicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2009
    I have a few broilers now and I'm now in a position that i feed them whatever I can. a bag of grower/starter feed costs nearly $20 where I live. So I started giving them kitchen scraps and undesirable veggies from the garden, and they are doing fine. They are not growing as fast, but are still growing pretty well. they're behavior is different too. they don't just sit in front of the feeder, but have become as active as my game chicks, even with a full craw! I want to try raising a whole group of chicks without any feed from the feed store. But I have to figure out what will be edible for them during the first week.
  10. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good for you, working outside the box.
    Erica, thanks for the great post! I gave lots of sprouts to my last two batches of chicks and they seemed to thrive on them. I sprouted fenugreek (a legume), radish, and mung beans. Once they went outside, they were on young Bermuda and got lots of garden greens.
    For my next batch of broilers, I'm going to seed a large area with annual clover, chia, rye, mustard and kale. Maybe daikon radish.
    I'd like to find a good custom blend that I can mix, even if I need to add methionine, lysine, a vitamin pack, kelp. The first couple of weeks grinding small batches in my grinder won't be bad and fresh ground would be so much more nutritious.
    I was also looking at the " slow white and red broilers" at Welp. Wondering what ,if any, BYCer's experiences have been with them?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by