what amount of protein?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by birdbrain5, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. birdbrain5

    birdbrain5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i started out feeding a sporting bird feed to all of my birds, its 20+% protein, i forget and dont have the bag infront of me. i did this because i had guinea keets and chicks together and was told the guineas especially needed the high protein while they were young. now i have peacocks, and they are also on that feed. the price of the bag is steadily increasing, and now i have my guineas seperate from my chickens, so im going to change thier feed. can my chickens get by with 14% protein ok? and also can my guineas now that they are full grown get by on it too? both flocks free range just about everyday and for about 5 hours a day for now. would my peacocks be able to get by on this too? im kind of guessing not.. but it would be great if they all could! if not, is there any way i could up the protein on the cheaper 14% feed that ill have by adding something? its significantly cheaper for a bag than the sporting feed.

    what is the bottom line for protein % that a chicken, guinea, peacock can have? thankyou!
     
  2. noitulover

    noitulover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    not sure on guineas and peacocks, but chickens need 16% protein.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm only going to discuss chickens. I don't have the experience or book knowledge about the others.

    I'm assuming your chickens are full grown. I'll first discuss if they don't free range.

    Commercial egg laying operations have spent a lot of money researching how to efficiently feed laying flocks, usually working with state universities. They have determined that a 16% protein formula is the most efficient feed if that is all the chickens eat. This efficiency includes cost, of course, but it also includes health considerations. They don't need more protein to produce large eggs. If they eat more protein, the eggs will be a little larger, but that does not really bring them in more money when they sell the eggs. And too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If the protein gets too high, it can lead to problems. The extra-large eggs can cause health problems. Think prolapsed or eggbound hens. If the protein is high, it can mess up their internal egg laying factory where they release egg yolks more than once a day. This can lead to double yolkers or more than one egg in a day. The double yolkers are not worth anything to them because of the extra handling. If they lay more than one egg a day, the shell gland usually does not have time to prepare enough shell material so the second egg is usually soft-shelled. Not very efficient. And if they lay a double-yolker or two in a day, they usually skip the following day.

    I'm not talking about a slight variation in protein. I'm talking about getting ridiculous with it. This 16% protein is the most efficient. That does not mean it is a hard and fast law of nature with disaster following if it is not met exactly. Chickens are pretty adaptable and can do OK with a pretty good range of feed. With a small backyard flock, efficiency means a bit different that with someone with five chicken houses with 10,000 layers in each house.

    Yours free range. They don't just eat the feed you give them. I don't know how many creepy crawlies they are getting compared to vegetative matter or seeds. I don't know how big a part of their diet is the feed you give them. I'd think a fair amount since you free range about 5 hours but they are confined the rest of the time. There is a lot I don't know.

    The Layer I see comes in 16% protein. That has the calcium in it for them. If you have a grown flock of chickens, I suggest offering them the 16% Layer. Oyster shell on the side is never a bad idea, but if the egg shells are hard, they really don't need it. If you have younger chickens with the flock that should not have the extra calcium, you can offer them 16% Grower with oyster shell on the side for the layers. With my flock, I often have younger birds in with them and 15% Grower/Developer is the closest I can get to 16% Grower. Guess what I use. My flock does free range most of the time.

    Good luck on getting a response on the other birds. Hope this helps some.
     
  4. Organics North

    Organics North Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like around 20% protein when they do not have range in winter.

    Consider boosting the protein for the chickens.. Maybe supplement the feed.

    ON
     
  5. birdbrain5

    birdbrain5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks everyone..

    organics north, id like to supplement the feed somehow so i can buy the lower protein feed for almost half the price ive been paying for the sporting feed. how would i supplement? what would i add to the feed?

    ridgerunner, are you saying in a nutshell i could feed the 14% and be ok, even tho they say 16% is best? ill try to supplement if i can get any advice on the best way to do so.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
  6. Organics North

    Organics North Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some one can check my math here:

    20 pounds your feed at 14%
    1 pound fish meal at 60%

    Gives you a feed at 16.19%

    Thats (20 x 14=280) + (1 x60=60) = 340 / 21=16.19

    OR
    14 pounds your feed at 14%
    1 pound roasted soybean meal at 44%
    Give you a feed at 16%

    OR
    10 pounds your feed at 14%
    1 pound Flax or flax meal at 34%
    Give you a feed at 15.81%


    Me I like flax and fish, both boosting your omega 3's in your eggs..[​IMG]

    I also use field peas which are 24% protein.. Matter of fact I use peas, flax and fish meal..[​IMG]

    As you see the lower the supplement protien value is the more you need to use..
    ON
     
  7. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    There is no fixed percentage that is the "best" overall. Generally 16% or 17% layer feed strikes a happy medium.

    The amount of crude protein that a hen needs each day depends upon stage of growth and production level. It is a fixed amount, not a percentage of the feed. Let's say a hen needs to take in 20 grams per day to meet growth, maintenance, and reproductive needs when it is fairly young at at peak production.

    A hen generally eats to fulfill it's caloric requirements. The caloric requirement depends upon the activity level of the hen and the ambient temperature. In the winter a hen eats more, in the summer a hen eats less. Given that a hen eats more in cold weather, the prercentage of protein can down in the winter (this can be accomplished by supplementing scratch in the winter, which effectively dilutes the protein). In hot weather (above 85 F) a hen's feed intake is drastically reduced. To get the required protein into her you generally need to provide a higher protein feed and cut out any treats that will dilute the protein levels.

    Since I keep a large number of hens for organic production, I see the effects of this on a daily basis. The management guide for our strain of brown layers tells me at this age and level of production they should be eating .26 lbs of feed per bird and require 19.9 grams of protein per day, so it recommends a feed of 17% crude protein. (19.9 grams protein required divided by 128 grams of feed eaten equals 16.8%).

    Yet that data is generally for caged birds kept at a temperature of 78 F. We have floor raised layers and it's only 65 F in the barn. Because of the higher activity level and cooler temperatures they are actually eating .28 lbs of feed per day. I grab my calculator and and find that 19.9 grams divided by 128 gram consumption equals 15.7 %, so I order 16% feed from the feed mill.

    How well does that work out for me? Pretty well actually. Since I sell eggs commercially I weigh the total egg production each day. It is surprisingly consistent from day to day. I can see day to day trends as small as a one half of one percent in egg weights. If egg weights are coming on too quickly, I reduce the amount of feed that I am feeding them each day. If egg weights start trending downward, production soon starts to drop and if taken too far the birds start to lose feathers, so I give them back some more feed. The 16% I have been feeding them had been working perfectly with just a slight reduction in the amount of feed I had been giving them. The new batch of 16% feed I received the other day must be slightly lower in actual protein so I started feeding them more, making feed available all day long. Today I noticed even with full feeding that the egg weights are starting to drop slightly. I can't feed them anymore, but I can get them to eat more by lowering the temperature in the barn by five degrees...

    Capiche? If you take away anything from that just realize that the amount of protein that the birds are getting depends upon how much they are actually eating and the percentage of protein in the feed can be adjusted accordingly, a lower percentage in cold weather and higher percentage in hot weather. There is no fixed percentage that is "correct", although as I said, 16% or 17% is probably a happy medium for year round use as you can adjust other factors, such as the amount of scratch being fed.
     
  8. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    So... Organics North, why 20% protein in the winter? If I fed my hens that much they would all be laying gargantuan eggs.

    If you are mixing your own feed you may be overestimating the amount of crude protein actually available in your feedstocks and are actually getting a lower protein feed in the end.

    If 20% is correct, then your custom mix may be lacking in certain amino acids such as methionine or lysine. Grain based diets are usually deficient in methionine and unless you are supplementing synthetic methionine it will take sufficient amounts of fish meal to overcome the deficiency and the higher amount of crude protein required by your birds may be a result of overcoming any amino acid deficiencies...

    There is a lot more that goes into specifying, or recommending to others, a specific level of protein in feed than one would think.
     
  9. birdbrain5

    birdbrain5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    lots of good info here. im just wondering now where do i find fish meal, roasted soybean meal, or flax meal to buy? generally speaking, how much is it? im just wondering if ill be spending more to supplement a feed rather than just buying it with an already higher protein [​IMG] hmm
     
  10. Organics North

    Organics North Chillin' With My Peeps

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    WOW...mac in abilene

    Thanks for the lesson on feed and temperature!

    Why 20% in winter?, no free range, less activity less eating with the birds at 20 to 30 F temp in the coop. Typically birds coming out of molt.

    Protein seems to help with the molt, and also I keep Marans which I understand do better with higher protein. Additionally it seems if I want to increase egg production or get pullets laying a bump in protein seems to help. I understand breeders of many heritage breeds (non production birds) run higher protein to.



    Please feel free to look at what I feed on my BYC page. Your feedback would be welcome..[​IMG]

    I think I am OK on my amino acid methionine with 20% BOSS in their diet and 4% fish meal. Also about a pound of raw ground venison per 24 birds every week or two. (I know not certifiable organic.)
    Lysine I am not so sure I only feed 10% organic corn, I would need to go back and look up where the wheat, oats, flax and peas are at with Lysine..

    Very interesting and educational post... I can not thank you enough for that!

    No synthetics here though..
    Unprocessed natural is more important to me than than thing else..[​IMG]
    ON
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011

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