Feed and Feeding
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Feed and Feeding

The quality of diet is affected by the following factors:

  • Total nutrient level and availability of essential nutrients to the bird
  • True metabolizable energy (TME)
  • The proportion of saturated to unsaturated fats for pre-starter diets (due to the limited ability of chicks to digest saturated fats)

Electrolyte Balance

Deep panting for prolonged periods leads to increased CO2 loss which further results in change in acid:base balance in the bird’s blood plasma. The consequence of these changes is respiratory alkalosis, dehydration affect the birds metabolism. To correct this imbalance Sodium bicarbonate should be added to the feed at the rate of 3 kg to 7 kg per tone. Adding electrolytes to drinking water stimulates water consumption. Potassium based salt mixtures appear to give better results than sodium based salts and also helps in increasing water consumption.

The quality of the diet is affected by following factors:

  • Total nutrient level and availability of essential nutrients to the birds
  • True metabolisable energy (TME)
  • The proportion of saturated to unsaturated fats for prestarter diets (due to the limited ability of chicks to digest saturated fats)
  • Anti-nutritional factors, e.g. histamines (biogenic amines) in fish meal, trypsin inhibitors in soybean meal
  • Toxins, e.g. mycotoxins produced in the field (ergot and fusarium in wheat) or in storage (aflatoxin)
  • The addition of enzymes to improve the digestibility of wheat or other raw materials.

Diet Form

Under Indian conditions, broilers are fed crumbled/pelleted as well as mash feed. Consistency in product quality is the major key to maintain satisfactory feed consumption. Variations in pellet hardness are caused by both ingredient changes and manufacturing process.

A consistent high quality pelleted feed is consumed faster than a dusty product, whilst a mash feed may take up to three times longer to consume. Consistent physical quality of pellets also prevents the separation of feed and ensures that birds receive a diet of the intended specification.

Fat Quality

Day old chicks are not capable of digesting saturated fats properly, so the fat in the starter feed should be largely unsaturated (e.g. soy oil). The ability of chickens to metabolize fats improves as they grow, so the finisher diets can include increasing amounts of saturated fat (e.g. palm oil).

The birds must be fed with an appropriate diet if they are to perform up to their true genetic potential. In order to ensure that they receive feed that contains the right amounts of energy, protein, essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins and trace elements, it is important to assess the correct levels of this nutrient in the feed ingredients while formulating broiler feed.

The feed is, however, only as good as the raw materials from which it is made and many of the nutritional problems that arise are the result of a lack of adequate attention to the quality of raw materials. The quality of the finished feed is dependent on raw material quality, feed formulation, weighments and manufacturing process. Accurate testing of raw materials and finished feed ensures availability of proper quality and quantity of nutrients to the birds.

Improving broiler performance at high environmental temperatures

In order to maintain performance during summer it is important to ensure feed consumption and nutrient intake requirement of the bird. A supply of cool water must be available at all times. Reducing water temperature has shown to lower body temperature. Evaporative cooling of houses is the best-proven alternative in summer. For open houses, fans, foggers, sprinklers, and side-wet curtains can also be used.

Feeding Management

Feeding Management is the simplest method to ensure adequate nutrient intake in hot climate, and it is effective to combat acute heat stress. In the summer season it is beneficial to feed birds during the cool hours of the day/night. At intervals, fresh addition of feed or running the feeder at frequent intervals will stimulate interest in feeding and may help to increase feed intake. It is advisable to withdraw feed during the hottest parts of the day. If the birds have finished digesting their last meal before hot hours, their metabolic heat production will be reduced.

Feeding Equipment

The most widely used types of feeders are hand fill trough (linear feeders), hand filled hanging hoppers, mechanical chain (trough type) and center less auger with pans (tube type).

Trough Feeders

Provide 25 – 30 numbers five feet (1.5 m) trough feeders per 1000 birds. Use grills and adjustable legs on all feeders and raise height of feeders as birds grow to increase feed efficiency and to keep litter out of the feeder.

Feeder space allowances

  • Day old to 14 days – allow 2 linear inches (5.0 cm) per bird
  • 15 Days to 35 days – allow 3 linear inches (7.5 cm) per bird
  • 36 Days to market – allow 4 linear inches (10.0 cm) per birdWhen determining the amount of space per feeder, measure both sides of the feeder. Grills should be provided on all trough feeders.

Feeder Management Practices

Maintain height of all trough and pan feeders so that the lip of feeders is at level with the backs of the birds. Manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed properly to ensure top performance and longevity of equipment.

Important: All automatic feeders should be checked regularly to make certain that there are no operational problems.

Feed Types

Various types of broiler feeding programs are followed in India. The widely used is prestarter, starter and finisher ration.