When should I switch to a lower protien feed?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Eroc1_1, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Eroc1_1

    Eroc1_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have seen conflicting suggestions on when to switch from a 20% protien grower feed, 15%-16% Finisher, and then a Layer mix. On the feed bag it says that it can be fed until 10 weeks of age and then switch to a 15%-16% finisher and then at around 16-18 weeks or so switch to a Layer mix. In an older version of David Holderread's book (if I remember correctly since it is not exactly close to me and was published around 2001) it said to switch them from a grower at 2 weeks (feed them 2x a day instead of free choice from then on), Finisher to about 16-18 weeks or so, and a Layer mix from then on. Suggestions? I don't want to waste any feed or make it overly complicated.

    I am not raising show birds but I don't want them to be overly obese either. We are raising 6 duck hens for egg production currently which are 2 weeks old.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  2. aineheartsyou

    aineheartsyou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I happen to have this page bookmarked in my storey's guide to raising ducks [​IMG] it says:
    0-2weeks - 18-20% starter free choice
    2-7weeks - 16-18% grower free choice 3x a day for 15 min
    7-20weeks - 15-16% developer .20-.40lbs per bird daily

    hope that helps!
     
  3. Lamar Estate

    Lamar Estate Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Does anyone stop feeding their ducklings/ducks free choice?
     
  4. gofasterstripe

    gofasterstripe Chillin' With My Peeps

    When my ducks are little I feed free choise all day and night. Once they are a bit older they get free choice all day, their bowls are never empty but once its bed time its bed time. Bed time is for sleeping not eating and drinking.
    My 2 ducklings are 9 weeks old now and are still down in the spare room. I have found that for the last 2 weeks they have hardly touched their food and water once they come in for the night so this week once I get them outside they wont get anyhting untill I let them out in the morning.
     
  5. The Duck ABC's

    The Duck ABC's Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Holderread's book is excellent, but there are a few factors he does not touch. For example each company has a different ratio of fillers etc. This can lead to having to feed a little bit more or less in quantity even when they have the same protein number. I have seen large differences on feeding suggestions given by manufacturers on their bags. Then there is the "large" duck factor. Large ducks tend to grow faster and a larger protein count can be devastating in their development. They grow faster in muscle weight then their joints can handle. This can lead to angel wing and leg issues. So what you want to do here is make sure your duckling grow slowly. This means feeding less protein from the get go. I raise Saxonies and they are very heavy ducks. Giving them 20% from start is just asking for trouble. For them it is best to start right away with a grower/developer mix at 16%, but you must supplement their drinking water with nutrients to make sure they get all they need. BTW this large breed factor also applies to large dogs. Those who breed large dogs do the same thing. They control the food they give to puppies. Nobody is starving any of them, but they controlling their grows by controlling the food properties.

    Forgot to mention that my birds have access to food 24 hours per day until they are 12 weeks old.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  6. Eroc1_1

    Eroc1_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The Duck ABC's :

    Holderread's book is excellent, but there are a few factors he does not touch. For example each company has a different ratio of fillers etc. This can lead to having to feed a little bit more or less in quantity even when they have the same protein number. I have seen large differences on feeding suggestions given by manufacturers on their bags. Then there is the "large" duck factor. Large ducks tend to grow faster and a larger protein count can be devastating in their development. They grow faster in muscle weight then their joints can handle. This can lead to angel wing and leg issues. So what you want to do here is make sure your duckling grow slowly. This means feeding less protein from the get go. I raise Saxonies and they are very heavy ducks. Giving them 20% from start is just asking for trouble. For them it is best to start right away with a grower/developer mix at 16%, but you must supplement their drinking water with nutrients to make sure they get all they need. BTW this large breed factor also applies to large dogs. Those who breed large dogs do the same thing. They control the food they give to puppies. Nobody is starving any of them, but they controlling their grows by controlling the food properties.

    Forgot to mention that my birds have access to food 24 hours per day until they are 12 weeks old.

    I will say that the ducks that we have are classified as Medium (Blue Swedish & Cayuga) and Light (Welsh Harlequin). So maybe I should switch them off of the 20% starter here in the next week.​
     
  7. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

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    One thing you can do and it will save you money as well, is also start offering a container of whole grains. Keep them on the high protein feed, but give them the free choice to eat things like whole oats, milo, field peas, etc... 1 50# bag of whole oats is only $9.
     
  8. The Duck ABC's

    The Duck ABC's Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:How many birds to you have? It may not be a practical to buy 50 pounds of feed if you only have a few, because you never finish the bag unless you mix it later up to reduce the protein. Check your feed store for chick starter in small bags. Mine does sell it in 2 pound bags, which they actually fill themselves from a large 50 pound bag. They realized that many owners only have a few birds and don't need a large bag. Obviously you pay a little bit more for the small bag, but then again you are not stuck with a large bag. Unmedicated is preferred, but some medications are ok for ducklings. Another option is to buy the grower/developer and give them plain yogurt to eat to offset the protein count. You will most likely give them mash to start with anyway. This makes it easy to mix in a few teaspoons of yogurt each time you mix on some food for them. You can also get meal worms, grind them up and mix in. Anyway ducklings in nature get less then what we feed our domestic ducklings. I do not think they will get into trouble with less protein. At least, I have not seen a study saying that 16% is damaging to ducklings either. If someone has seen one let me know. I think the most important part is vitamins/minerals and probiotics in the first 12 weeks.
     
  9. Eroc1_1

    Eroc1_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The Duck ABC's :

    Quote:How many birds to you have? It may not be a practical to buy 50 pounds of feed if you only have a few, because you never finish the bag unless you mix it later up to reduce the protein. Check your feed store for chick starter in small bags. Mine does sell it in 2 pound bags, which they actually fill themselves from a large 50 pound bag. They realized that many owners only have a few birds and don't need a large bag. Obviously you pay a little bit more for the small bag, but then again you are not stuck with a large bag. Unmedicated is preferred, but some medications are ok for ducklings. Another option is to buy the grower/developer and give them plain yogurt to eat to offset the protein count. You will most likely give them mash to start with anyway. This makes it easy to mix in a few teaspoons of yogurt each time you mix on some food for them. You can also get meal worms, grind them up and mix in. Anyway ducklings in nature get less then what we feed our domestic ducklings. I do not think they will get into trouble with less protein. At least, I have not seen a study saying that 16% is damaging to ducklings either. If someone has seen one let me know. I think the most important part is vitamins/minerals and probiotics in the first 12 weeks.

    We only have six ducklings and they have been eating the starter crumbles since we got them. I bought a 50lb* bag of DuMOR Starter/Grower based on what the feeding timeline said on the back of the bag. I will check with our local feed store for small quantities, however, I don't think they mix feed on the premises.

    * had to edit the bag size - I doubled checked.​
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  10. The Duck ABC's

    The Duck ABC's Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine doesn't mix either. They simply take a large bag and break it down into smaller zip lock bags, so you can buy a small amount.
     

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