What is the difference in types of feeds?

Brenda Jones

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
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Upper Eastern Peninsula of Michigan
I give my girls a raw, whole grain, organic, soy & corn free feed (Brand - Scratch & Peck). I have a starter feed @ 20% protein, a grower feed @ 17 % protein (and I also mix a bit of organic corn in every once in a while or put it out as scratch). My girls are 16 weeks old - do I need to switch them to a layer feed @ 16% protein? And am I missing any micro nutrients they may need ( I mix in some herbs into their food as well as kelp powder at least weekly) I offer free choice calcium and they will occasionally peck at it as well as the grit. I also ferment their feed as well as offer them the dry stuff which they tend to like better right now because the fermented stuff freezes and gets pretty hard for them (they do like the fermented one first thing in the morning when I bring it out )

They also are semi free ranged ( protected within a fenced area) most of the day
 

ChickenCanoe

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The primary differences in the types of feed is calcium and protein percentages.
Layer feed will be approximately 4% calcium and all other feeds will be about 1%.
The protein percentages will vary between feeds mostly due to the age of bird they are intended to feed. Growing birds need more protein to build their bodies. As they grow, their protein needs diminish.
All chickens and poultry in general have the same basic requirements of vitamins, minerals, fats and energy. The differences in vitamin, mineral and amino acid levels come with different qualities of feed. Better quality feeds will contain higher levels of vitamins A, D, E, K and minerals like zinc, manganese, selenium as well as the essential amino acids like lysine and methionine that are deficient in the grains and legumes that are the primary ingredients in feeds.
There are other feeds like Finisher, All-Flock, Gamebird and Waterfowl.
The changes in protein requirements is due to changes in the way birds eat in nature. For very young birds, a significant portion of their diet would be animal protein (insects, invertebrates and small vertebrates). As they mature, their diet may become more seeds and greens. That is less so with chickens than other species like gamebirds (quail, turkeys, pheasant, grouse). Game bird starter feeds may be as high as 30% protein and as low as 12% for adult game bird maintenance feed.

The difference in calcium content is due to the fact that 1% is about right for bodily functions which include muscle function in all birds not producing egg shells. Excess calcium can have a damaging effect on the kidneys.
Egg shells are made up of primarily calcium carbonate so that has to be replenished in the diet. When an egg enters the shell gland, they pull calcium from the medullary bone as well as calcium absorption sites in the small intestine and is reformulated into calcium carbonate in the uterus as it is applied over the shell membranes. That calcium utilized from bone is replaced the rest of the day from diet. Large particle oyster shell tends to stay in the upper digestive tract longer than that in a finely ground feed and usually comes into contact with the calcium absorption sites at night when the eggs are normally in the uterus.
Birds not actively producing eggs are not layers and shouldn't get layer feed. Just because they are adult female chickens, doesn't make them layers untill you get eggs.
 
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nuthatched

Fishin' for Chickens
Nov 9, 2019
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I'd use an all poultry feed, that's at least 18% protein and offer oyster shell on the side. I know the package says 16 weeks but a lot of people wait until they start to lay before layer feed. but if it's winter where you are, it could be another 6, 8 or 10 weeks before you see and pre egg behavior.
 

Brenda Jones

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
96
111
103
Upper Eastern Peninsula of Michigan
The primary differences in the types of feed is calcium and protein percentages.
Layer feed will be approximately 4% calcium and all other feeds will be about 1%.
The protein percentages will vary between feeds mostly due to the age of bird they are intended to feed. Growing birds need more protein to build their bodies. As they grow, their protein needs diminish.
All chickens and poultry in general have the same basic requirements of vitamins, minerals, fats and energy. The differences in vitamin, mineral and amino acid levels come with different qualities of feed. Better quality feeds will contain higher levels of vitamins A, D, E, K and minerals like zinc, manganese, selenium as well as the essential amino acids like lysine and methionine that are deficient in the grains and legumes that are the primary ingredients in feeds.

The difference in calcium content is due to the fact that 1% is about right for bodily functions which include muscle function in all birds not producing egg shells. Excess calcium can have a damaging effect on the kidneys.
Egg shells are made up of primarily calcium carbonate so that has to be replenished in the diet. When an egg enters the shell gland, they pull calcium from the medullary bone as well as calcium absorption sites in the small intestine and is reformulated into calcium carbonate in the uterus as it is applied over the shell membranes.
Birds not actively producing eggs are not layers and shouldn't get layer feed. Just because they are adult female chickens, doesn't make them layers untill you get eggs.
Thank You Chicken Canoe,
The feed I use has those ingredients listed, but doesn't give percentages for everything
 

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Brenda Jones

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
96
111
103
Upper Eastern Peninsula of Michigan
I'd use an all poultry feed, that's at least 18% protein and offer oyster shell on the side. I know the package says 16 weeks but a lot of people wait until they start to lay before layer feed. but if it's winter where you are, it could be another 6, 8 or 10 weeks before you see and pre egg behavior.

Thank you Nuthatched,
I understand that offering free choice calcium allows the girls to eat it when they need it. I worry about them eating too much protein... when I give them a treat it is usually high in protein like meal worms or sunflower seeds or I make a treat block for them that has a lot of herbs and high protein things like flax and chia seeds in it. My girls are not BIG eaters... they mostly forage and just pick at their food occasionally. The 3 of them eat less than a half cup of food combined daily. I usually throw the Starter feed down as scratch in the morning and put a dish of the grower feed out (wet and dry) for them to pick at throughout the day... I pull in all food and water at night once they settle in the roost (they don't come off the roost at night to eat or drink... and I keep a light on until around 1130 pm in case they wanted something to eat or drink)
 
Last edited:

ChickenCanoe

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Thank You Chicken Canoe,
The feed I use has those ingredients listed, but doesn't give percentages for everything
Those nutrients with percentages listed are all that are required by law.
Some of the better quality feeds will list things like A and D. Those that don't have amounts to brag about won't list them.
I used to feed a minimally ground organic feed like Scratch & Peck that I used to make fermented feed but I didn't like feeding it as it came out of the bag because the chickens tended to selectively pick out the grains and leave behind much of the goodies contained in the fines. It is a good feed but unless you wet it like during ferment that binds up the fines into the mass.
Except for the grains and legumes that make up the mass of feed, all the nutrients needed by chickens missing in those primary ingredients are added as powders and end up in the fines.
 

Brenda Jones

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
96
111
103
Upper Eastern Peninsula of Michigan
Those nutrients with percentages listed are all that are required by law.
Some of the better quality feeds will list things like A and D. Those that don't have amounts to brag about won't list them.
I used to feed a minimally ground organic feed like Scratch & Peck that I used to make fermented feed but I didn't like feeding it as it came out of the bag because the chickens tended to selectively pick out the grains and leave behind much of the goodies contained in the fines. It is a good feed but unless you wet it like during ferment that binds up the fines into the mass.
Except for the grains and legumes that make up the mass of feed, all the nutrients needed by chickens missing in those primary ingredients are added as powders and end up in the fines.


Thank You, that makes much sense. My girls do leave the finer stuff when they eat the dry food. I cannot have soy anything so I don't feed it to my girls either.... most of the other organic feed that I have seen still adds soy for the protein. I wanted to feed my girls a more natural diet...like they would find foraging. Do you have a brand of feed that you would recommend? ( not sprayed with chemicals, and no soy)
 

rosemarythyme

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My girls do leave the finer stuff when they eat the dry food.

Save the fines and add it to your ferment mix - saves you money by reducing waste, and guarantees they eat the vitamins and proteins in it.

I buy 1 bag of Scratch & Peck starter when I have chicks, and switch to grower once that's gone at around 6 weeks or so. If you like the grower, no need to switch off of it even when they're laying - you can supplement the calcium via oyster shell on the side. All my birds get fermented grower, plus I offer dry all flock crumble/layer pellets all day (depending on if there's chicks in the flock)

I'd skip tossing the starter feed out as scratch - the fines get completely wasted, and so does the extra protein. If you want scratch, just buy scratch (so no fines).
 

Brenda Jones

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
96
111
103
Upper Eastern Peninsula of Michigan
Save the fines and add it to your ferment mix - saves you money by reducing waste, and guarantees they eat the vitamins and proteins in it.

I buy 1 bag of Scratch & Peck starter when I have chicks, and switch to grower once that's gone at around 6 weeks or so. If you like the grower, no need to switch off of it even when they're laying - you can supplement the calcium via oyster shell on the side. All my birds get fermented grower, plus I offer dry all flock crumble/layer pellets all day (depending on if there's chicks in the flock)

I'd skip tossing the starter feed out as scratch - the fines get completely wasted, and so does the extra protein. If you want scratch, just buy scratch (so no fines).


Thank You Rosemarythyme I will start saving the fines and mix it with the ferment. I still have about 20 pounds of starter feed, can I mix that in with the grower ferment until it is gone?
 

rosemarythyme

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Thank You Rosemarythyme I will start saving the fines and mix it with the ferment. I still have about 20 pounds of starter feed, can I mix that in with the grower ferment until it is gone?

Yup that's fine. I just personally don't like that the starter ferments down into more of a mush, which is why I don't choose to use it regularly for my flock (plus it's slightly higher in protein than I'd choose for a primary feed).
 

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