what to feed chickies for calcium and protein needs

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by vodkalady, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. vodkalady

    vodkalady Out Of The Brooder

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    am looking for the right foods to feed my chickens to produce good eggs ...i am concerned about the calcium and the protein foods...thanks so muc for any help
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Well the base of their diet should be a good commercial layer or all flock type feed, assuming we're talking adult birds here. That is formulated to meet their protein and calcium needs. You can supply them with oyster shell for additional calcium when they feel the need for it.

    As far as extras...I don't personally feed tons of treats as I want them eating mostly their layer feed but I do occasionally feed dark leafy greens, chopped hard boiled egg, meal worms, yogurt, and they have daily access to pasture for foraging. We have healthy hens and lots of eggs.
     
  3. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is such a complicated question lol and you could end up with a ton of different answers. People tend to feel very strongly about their feeding choices but I think it really comes down to what works for you and your goals for your flock and also the make up of your flock.

    I would start reading all of the feed labels so you can get a good idea of what your choices are and how the feeds are different.

    A standard commercial layer is made to be complete nutrition for a laying hen who is laying eggs regularly. They vary a bit from brand to brand but will be around 16% protein and have the extra calcium already for egg shell development. This is the most commonly fed food. It is an easy all-in-on, cheap, and your birds and eggs will be fine on it.

    That being said it may or may not be the "right" food for your needs. If your flock is mixed with roos, young bird, molting birds, old birds, breeds that lay infrequently, etc then the layer feed is not ideal nutrition for these non-laying birds. They will be getting too much calcium. It is not as bad for roos and older non-laying birds but I would avoid it with young pullets and chicks. An alternative is to feed a grower or flock raiser (you can find these anywhere from 15% to 20% protein) and then offer a calcium source, like oyster shell, free choice separate from the feed. Chickens are good at regulating their own nutrition if given good choices and will only eat the calcium if needed if it is separate. It is up to you. Some people feed their laying hens and roos a layer all year round and are happy with that.

    Also, all commercial feeds are non-organic GMOs. This may or not be an issue for you. Most standard commercial feeds are made with a soy protein base. This may or may not be an issue for you. Some people prefer an animal based protein source - the one I personally see the most is fish meal.

    If they are getting all or almost all of their diet from feed then the 16% protein in a standard commercial layer is good. If you they giving a lot of scraps, scratch, greens, fodder, etc and it is making up good portion of their daily in-take you might want to consider a feed with a higher protein (18%-22%) to keep a good balance.

    I personally feed a 20% protein starter/grower that is soy free/corn free with a fish meal base. And then grow an organic barley/wheat/BOSS fodder mix and give them a brick of sprouts everyday. I see a noticable difference in the color and quality of my egg yokes when I started the fodder diet. I choose this for the quality of ingredients and some personal and political reasons and because my flock is very mixed it age and breed. It's right for me but I recognize that is is expensive and a lot more work and to drive much further to find it - and it is not really necessary per say.

    Good luck!

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/713334/growing-fodder-for-chickens
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  4. dragonlair

    dragonlair Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed a layer crumble, 16% protein. It has no animal products in it, so I give them meat or fat scraps that seem to help their laying. Mine also get fresh goat milk daily in their crumbles, fresh comfrey leaves and other greens (seasonal) and table scraps. Right now they are getting apples, since they are starting to ripen. In the winter (it gets very cold up here in Maine!) I add dry kitten food to their crumbles to help provide extras to help keep them warm from the inside.

    The layer feed did not supply them with enough calcium and their eggshells were getting thin and brittle. I added crushed eggs shells and oyster shells along with the milk and their eggs which helped the problem.

    When I do not have a garden growing, my girls get to free range. During growing season, I keep them in a large pen and bring fresh greens to them.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    What age are your chickens? Chick feed and flock raiser have usually 20% protein 1% calcium. Laying hens at 17-20 weeks need only 16% protein, but 20% won't harm them. Layer feed has 3% calcium which is too much for chicks under laying age and roosters. Chickens don't need anything extra in their diets, but as previous posters say, leafy greens such as kale and collards are high in calcium, and eggs are good foe extra protein. A lot of people do not realize that chickens also eat meat, so a bit of liver, meat, or even fish or tuna is good for extra protein. My chickens like crushed up egg shells for their extra calcium, as well as crushed oystershell in a free feed container (also known as a coffee can LOL.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  6. vodkalady

    vodkalady Out Of The Brooder

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    May 14, 2013
    thanks so much everyone for the info and advice
     
  7. LoneOak

    LoneOak Chillin' With My Peeps

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