What do you feed your show birds?

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the Standard o' started by waddles99, May 17, 2016.

  1. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't show on that large of a scale, i.e. I don't show at national shows, only state and county shows, so i feed my chickens purina start and grow and then later on purina layena. Im just curious what people who are really into showing feed. I have heard people using manna pro showbird feed. The problem with that is my show girls are my layers too, for the next year, so I need to make sure they are laying. What do you guys feed your show chickens?
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    I haven't shown in a LONG time, but way back when I used to feed my showbirds Purina game bird breeder feed.
     
  3. Matt1616

    Matt1616 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess I'm not understanding what you are saying...you say you need them laying? What does that have to do with your question?
     
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    I think what the OP means is that that while continuing production they want to keep their birds in best possible feather, weight, and general condition.
     
  5. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I need my birds laying now, so i need to be feeding a layer feed, not show feed, to my birds. In the future, I hope to have some show birds that I can feed only a formulated show feed, and have separate layers. I am just curious what people who show birds feed to keep them in good condition.
     
  6. RCleghorn

    RCleghorn Out Of The Brooder

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    I feed southern states flock balancer pellets. Used to be called rock and rooster. Birds lay just fine on that feed. I have never fed a specific feed to get them to lay eggs. Mother nature takes care of the laying part.
     
  7. Matt1616

    Matt1616 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    "Layer Feed" is often times of lesser quality than feed that you would use to condition a bird for show. Layer feed does not make a pullet/hen lay anymore eggs than any other type of feed. The main factors in a bird laying well is in this order... Genetics, quality of feed and clean water. I have never fed a "Layer Feed" to my birds since I have been raising show birds. It is not high enough in protein to keep them in decent feather. Also the amount of protein is not as important as what makes up that protein in the feed mixture. Alfalfa based feeds are much better than soy bean or peanut hull based feeds. The only thing in "layer feed" that is not in any other kind of feed is a bit more calcium for strong egg shells but if your birds are healthy that shouldn't be a problem any way.

    Matt
     
    3riverschick and waddles99 like this.
  8. Ifish

    Ifish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Alfalfa based feed sounds interesting. Can you recommend a company or two?
     
  9. Sydney Acres

    Sydney Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I totally agree with Matt. "Layer" feed provides what is necessary to produce eggs, but the rest of the bird might not look that great. The only thing that it provides "better" than a regular feed is calcium. However, most companies do recommend that free choice oyster shells be provided in addition to their layer feed, so that extra calcium really isn't critical if you're also giving oyster shells. The only advantage is that the hens cannot avoid the extra calcium in layer diets, so a hen that might not like oyster shells will still get extra calcium, which it may or may not need.

    Years ago I had a beloved pet hen with a lot of medical problems. She was highly monitored by her avian veterinary specialist, and because of her issues she couldn't eat any of the commercial diets, and she couldn't have excessive calcium in her diet. She was put on a homemade diet using specific grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, etc, balanced by a nutritionist to provide maximum health. Again, this was not a high calcium diet. She laid perfect eggs with beautiful hard shells, around 200 her first year, about 180 her second year, about 100 her third year, about 20 her forth year, and only 3 her fifth year. She enjoyed an excellent quality of life, and her body condition and plumage were perfect. She started to show her age in her sixth year, and died at 6 years, 10 months old. Not exactly geriatric for a good quality heritage breed, but Sydney was a commercial broiler hen, a meat hybrid that rarely lives beyond 18 months when kept as a pet.

    She provides a good example of how a bird with excellent nutrition doesn't need "layer feed" to produce eggs. Now, I don't monitor my flocks to that level, and I don't custom mix a homemade diet for every individual bird based on professional physical exams and frequent blood tests, adjusting the nutrients as needed based on those results. That's just impossible, and totally unnecessary for healthy animals. For my flocks I provide a mix of different commercial diets: one alfalfa based, one soy based (a game bird layer diet), and one fish based, all mixed together, plus veggies and fruit from the garden, fruit from the orchard, extra milk from the goat, fish scraps when available, free choice oyster shells, and a large pasture with adjoining forest area to free range. They look great, and they produce large numbers of eggs for many years (my 8 year old Croad Langshans are still laying -- not often, about 10-12 this year, and no longer fertile, as the rooster is arthritic and breeding is a bit of a slip-and-slide, but they are quite elderly birds for the breed and any production is above and beyond at this point). They eat a lot of grass, which balances out the high protein of the milk and fish, and it all seems to work well. Plus, the culls taste amazing with a flavor that is never bland, and provide better nutrition to the person who eats them (in the long run, what you feed your prey is ultimately what you feed your predator, whether you're raising mealworms to feed your birds, mice to feed a snake, or chickens to feed a person). There's so many options for a feeding plan. The single bag method is no doubt the easiest, but if you train yourself to evaluate their body condition and production, and are willing to use multiple products, you can definitely move your feeding program, and your results, up to a higher level.
     

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