Understanding what drives appetite
The average layer hen (ie, a Brown Shaver or Hyline) or a light breed like a Leghorn needs about 17g of protein per day and a diet which provides at least 280 kcals of energy.
Heavy breeds tend to eat far more in quantity but can do well on feeds with lower quality protein and energy.
Poultry have an innate drive to eat whatever they can find to reach these daily protein and energy goals thanks to their genes. Hormones tell it to feed, and once it has the nutrients it needs, other hormones are released that tell it to stop eating.
A hen eating 100g per day of commercial layer feed (16 per cent minimum crude protein) will get almost enough to meet her needs. If she eats a little bit more she will get her 17g/day of protein.
If she gets an extra 10g of grain as well, she will also get her daily allowance. However, grains are only 8-13 per cent protein. The more grain you feed to reduce the amount of pellets you feed, the more your hen will need to eat and it still may not be possible for her to physically take it in and process it.
In summer you need to feed a high protein feed as hot weather can decrease appetite.
When birds are moulting you need to increase the protein level as feathers are 85 per cent protein and it’s a big ask for a bird to do this on a restricted diet, something people often do when their hens aren’t laying. Moulting is a process that helps a hen prepare its body for the coming year of laying. Restricting her feed at this time will cost you in the laying year to come.
In summer, you need to feed a high protein feed as hot weather can decrease appetite
Grains tend to be low in protein, an important part of a bird’s diet.