Un­der­stand­ing what drives ap­petite

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Poultry -

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.

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