can laying hens eat meat bird feed

For optimal health, laying hens and broiler meat birds require diets with the correct proportions and ratios of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A properly balanced diet will ensure your birds have enough feed to maintain their body functions in addition to meeting their production needs. Different feeds are used as vehicles for various nutrients, and those feeds are formulated based on ingredients available in the area and how they can be combined to create the proper ratios of nutrients needed in the diet.

Understandably, laying hens need feed specifically formulated for egg production, and it should contain a minimum of 16-percent protein. (For birds going through a molt, an even higher percentage of protein is recommended.) Additionally, laying hens have very specific needs for vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The nutrients you feed will be the nutrients seen in the egg.

Calcium makes up the majority of the eggshell so a layer feed is designed to have a much higher calcium content. Calcium can be supplemented, but if a proper layer feed is available free-choice, it may not be necessary. If you like the hardness of the shells from your hens, don’t worry about a supplement. If your hens are having major laying problems, including soft shells, provide a calcium supplement, such as oyster shells.

Scraps and treats should make up a small part of a chicken’s diet. Hens enjoy grazing plants and bugs, but they should still have unlimited access to a balanced layer feed. Changes in yolk color are not an indication of how healthy an egg is; they’re simply an indication of what the hen has been eating. If you would like your eggs to be higher in certain nutrients, such as omega-3s, feed your hens a diet with higher omega-3s. Chickens will not get omega-3s in their eggs just because you let them graze your weed patch. Again, the nutrients you feed your birds will be the nutrients found in their eggs.

Chicks that are being used for meat production will need transferred to a grower/finisher feed that clocks in around 18 percent protein at about 6 to 8 weeks of age, depending on the breed. They’ll need to remain on that diet until they are processed. Meat chickens grow quickly: Depending on the breed, some can be finished in as little as six weeks, meaning that you’ll need to maximize the nutrients they receive in order to make the most of that brief finishing time.

What you feed meat chickens will affect the way they taste. Giving meat birds space to graze is fine, provided they have unlimited access to a complete grower/finisher feed. Grazing can also slow down their growth; it may take longer to finish chickens raised on pasture.

Overall, the most important takeaway for feeding any type of chicken is to feed a balanced diet, which provides enough energy for body maintenance in addition to egg and/or meat production. Additionally, proper nutrition will eliminate many egg abnormalities and help your chickens stay healthier overall! Who doesn’t want happy, healthy birds?

Chickens have an incredible ability to adjust their feed intake to their amino acid and caloric needs.

Therefore, they will try to meet their needs by increasing their feed intake if it is marginally deficient in methionine, lysine, threonine, or calories. But they have a limited capacity, and eventually they won’t be able to make up for it.

Conversely, characteristics like growth or egg production usually rise until a limiting nutrient is required, at which point they tend to plateau. Put another way, underfeeding a bird will never allow it to reach its full potential; overfeeding a nutrient(s) will still maximize production even though it is wasteful.

Different, changing calorie needs

The need for more energy as they age must be considered as we search for additional variations between layer and broiler diets. Although their initial energy requirements are somewhat similar, they rapidly diverge.

From hatch through market weight, the energy requirements of meat birds increase. This usually translates to an increase in calories per pound from 1,360 to over 1,450. On the other hand, during the rearing phase, layers’ energy requirements decrease. This usually means that there are between 1,340 and 1,250 fewer calories per pound.

Thus, the ideal calorie intake for a hen that would soon lay eggs would severely restrict the growth of a broiler.

Once more, for most birds, the optimal non-layer bagged feed that isn’t marked specifically for meat production will probably fall somewhere in the middle.

Eggs versus meat

Lastly, we can talk about how a layer feed and a non-layer feed differ from one another.

can laying hens eat meat bird feed

In addition to requiring less protein and energy, laying hens require significantly more calcium than meat birds in order to form egg shells. While the calcium level in a non-layer feed will normally be between 0 A layer feed will typically have a calcium level between 3 and 7 and 1 and a calcium to phosphorus ratio of roughly 2:1 (the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in bones). 8 and 4. 5 and a 9 or 10:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio

This is due to the fact that calcium carbonate, which makes up the egg shell, needs to be consumed in excess in order to maintain egg production.

Laying hens and broiler meat birds need diets containing the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for optimum health. Your birds will have enough feed to meet their production needs and maintain bodily functions if they are fed a properly balanced diet. Different feeds are utilized as vehicles for different nutrients, and those feeds are prepared using local ingredients and their potential combinations to provide the right nutrient ratios for the diet.

It makes sense that feed designed especially for producing eggs is required for laying hens, and it must include at least 16 percent protein. (An even higher proportion of protein is advised for molting birds.) Furthermore, the requirements of laying hens for vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are extremely particular. The nutrients the egg contains will be the same ones you feed it.

Since calcium makes up the majority of an eggshell, layer feeds are made with a lot more calcium. Although calcium supplements are an option, they might not be required if a suitable layer feed is offered at no cost. You shouldn’t be concerned about a supplement if you enjoy how hard your hens’ shells are. Give your hens a calcium supplement, like oyster shells, if they are experiencing severe laying issues, including soft shells.

All things considered, the most crucial lesson to learn when raising any kind of chicken is to feed a balanced diet that supplies enough energy for both body maintenance and the production of eggs and/or meat. Who doesn’t want happy, healthy birds? Adequate nutrition will also help your hens stay healthier overall and eliminate many egg abnormalities.

The diet you give meat chickens will influence their flavor. It’s acceptable to give meat birds room to graze as long as they have unrestricted access to a complete grower/finisher feed. Moreover, grazing can impede growth, so pasture-raised chickens may take longer to mature.


What is the difference between meat bird feed and layer feed?

Meat birds have increasing energy needs from hatch through market weight. This typically means going from around 1,360 to over 1,450 calories per pound. In contrast, layers have decreasing energy needs during the rearing period. This is typically a reduction from around 1,340 to 1,250 calories per pound.

Can chickens eat regular bird feed?

Remember, modern domestic chickens lay lots of eggs year-round, while wild birds may lay only a few eggs a year, seasonally. So seed mixes designed for wild birds just won’t make a good, well-balanced diet for your flock. So feel free to offer them wild birdseed. In moderation, as a treat, it can even be quite healthy!