POULTRY FEEDING is The science of nutrition involves providing a balance of nutrients that best meets the animals needs for growth, maintenance, egg production, etc. Poultry production in Manitoba centres largely on farm where ample supplies of grain are grown. This can and should lead to low-cost, efficient production. Grain in some form may comprise 75% to 90% of a well-balanced poultry ration. Frequently, however, a full grain bin means careless or indifferent feeding because no attempt is made to balance this ration properly. One must include all the essential nutrients in order to obtain a profitable rate of growth or egg production. The poultry raiser who must buy all his feed knows this full well, and in addition he aims to sell only high quality products; otherwise he cannot continue long in business. The purpose of this publication is to encourage the efficient use of feed on Manitoba farms where poultry and eggs are being produced. It is the poultry keeper’s responsibility to market well-finished birds, and eggs of the best quality, in order to secure maximum returns in relation to feed and other costs.
ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS OF POULTRY FEEDING
The following six classes of nutrients are essential to life, growth, production and reproduction in all classes of poultry. Nature supplies most of these essentials in the form of pasture, bugs and insects, gravel, grains and seeds, sunshine, etc. Indoor feeding of young or adult poultry, places full responsibility on the attendant to supply these same requirements in some form or another and in adequate but not excessive amounts.
- WATER: Birds can live longer without food than without water. Lack of a consistant supply of fresh water hinders the growth of young poultry; it leads to low egg production and early moulting in the laying flock.
- PROTEIN: This is usually the most expensive feed material, but the one most likely to bring profitable results if properly used. Protein from animal sources – milk, liver, fish scraps, meat or meat meal – is more effective in promoting growth and egg production, than protein from most vegetable sources. Grains alone are entirely inadequate in amount and kind of protein. Excess protein has a forcing effect which may be detrimental to poultry of any age.
- CARBOHYDRATES: These are the starchy materials in grains and grain products. Only a starved flock will lack for carbohydrates. They supply fuel and energy, the excess going to form fat in the body or egg.
- FATS: Some fat is present in practically all feed materials. An excess of fat from fish oil or meat and fish products may cause digestive upset in birds, and lead to such disorders as fatty degeneration and “crazy chick disease”.
- MINERALS: Calcium carbonate (from limestone or gravel, clam or oyster shells, bone, etc) in the presence of Vitamin D, forms most of the egg shell. Calcium and phosphorous make up the major part of bone; but excess phosphorous (from bone materials) may immobilize the manganese in the diet, leading to crooked bones and slipped tendons in chicks and poults. Salt supplies some essential minerals. Green feed contains small amounts of certain highly important minerals.
- VITAMINS: The naturally speedy growth of young poultry soon reveals any vitamin deficiencies in their rations; hatching of eggs is a critical test of the vitamin content of a breeder diet. Most commonly lacking in Manitoba diets are:
(1) Vitamin A (from green feed, yellow corn and fish oils). Vitamin A protects against colds and infections. (2) Vitamin D (in marine fish oils and synthetic products, or formed in body when exposed to ultra-violet rays of sun). Vitamin D aids in laying down of mineral in shell or bone, and in preventing leg weakness and rickets. (3) Riboflavin (in milk, liver, yeast, green feed, synthetic riboflavin, etc.). Riboflavin promotes the growth of chicks and poults, both in the egg and after hatching; hence it is one of the most important factors in hatchability. Riboflavin prevents nutritional or curled-toe paralysis in young chicks.
FEEDS USED IN POULTRY FEEDING
Wheat usually is one of the best grains for poultry feeding, although a proportion of course grains in some form should always be included in the ration, along with wheat. In seasons of rust or frost, when wheat is shrunken, more should be ground and fed in mashes and less in the scratch feed. Either hard spring or Durum wheat may be used.
Oats vary considerably in feeding value, due to difference in hull. They can be fed whole as part of a scratch feed, or in mashes in the crushed, rolled, or finely ground form. If light, sift out the hulls; poor quality oats frequently have so much hull as to be of little use for poultry feed.
Barley will work well as part of the scratch feed and in mashes in crushed, rolled, or finely ground form. Ordinarily it is not quite as palatable as wheat or oats; still in seasons when these two grains are of poor quality and the barley is fair or good, more can fed in the different forms, or even as boiled or soaked barley, with very good results.
Corn is a very desirable grain fed whole, cracked or ground. Ripe corn on the cob may be fed to hens and turkeys. Shelled corn may be used with other grains as scratch feed. Corn chop could be included in any of the dry mash rations listed in this circular. The corn, if not thoroughly dried, should be mixed with the other chop in the mash immediately after grinding.
Millet where grown, may be used to good advantage in growing, laying, and fattening rations. Millet may compromise up to one-third of the whole grain fed, and up to one-third of the chop mixture in dry mashes.
Rye is not as palatable as wheat, oats or barley, but can be fed in limited quantities as a scratch feed or in mashes along with two or more of the other grains. In large quantities it is likely to cause digestive disorders.
Flax is high in protein and fat. A small amount may be fed in the whole or ground form in mashes during the moulting season and fall and winter months. Linseed oil cake meal may also be used.
By-products of grain have a place in poultry feeding, especially where feed must be bought. They may be higher in price than the whole grain, and if used should be fed for a specific purpose, such bran, shorts or middlings in growing and laying rations, and oat flour, oat middlings, oat feed, or barley meal in fattening rations.
Skimmilk and Buttermilk are Excellent for all Classes of Poultry but especially valuable for young chicks, laying hens and fattening birds. Milk supplies the vitamin riboflavin which is indispensible to high hatching quality in eggs. As a desirable protein supplement, milk undoubtedly heads the list.
“Concentrates” and “Balancers” are especially prepared supplements put up by feed companies. They should be added to home-grown chopped grains in proportions recommended by the manufacturers.
Fish Oils (cod liver oil, pilchard oil, etc.) are used in chick rations, in winter laying rations and in rations for producing eggs for hatching, as a source of Vitamins A and D when the supply of green pasture and direct sunshine is limited or lacking. Standard fish oils for poultry should contain 1,250 units or more of Vitamin A, and 200 A.O.A.C. units or more of Vitamin D, per gram. If fed in dry mash the oil should be mixed first with a small quantity of ground wheat.
RATIONS FOR GROWING CHICKENS BY POULTRY FEEDING
Young chicks require a diet rich in protein and certain vitamins, with a carefully balanced mineral content. Two pounds of chick starter dry mash will feed one chick up to about six weeks of age. After that, in the case of the birds to be reared to maturity, a cheaper ration with increasing amounts of whole grain may be used. Birds to be killed as broilers, however, should be kept on a more concentrated diet to promote the rapid growth essential to profit in broiler raising.
While one may mix chick starter at home, the simplest plan is to purchase 200 pounds of commercial chick starter mash for each 100 chicks. Choose a brand that is flaky or mealy, avoiding the less palatable finely ground mixtures that tend to paste inside the chick’s mouth. The dry mash should be stored in a cool dry place and fed fresh daily.
Start feeding the chicks as soon as they want to eat. Place dry mash on clean egg-case flats (cup type) or on clean cardboard, at several points around the brooder, with possibly a little cracked wheat or chick scratch grain sprinkled over the mash. After two or three days, when all the chicks have learned to eat, place the dry mash in self-feeders. The usual method is to keep dry mash continuously before the birds, though some people prefer to lift the feeders for an hour at a time during each half day.
Provide a constant supply of fresh drinking water in clean chick fountains. Place hard insoluble grit or fine gravel in pans or hoppers separate from the feed. In addition to the dry mash a little cracked wheat may be fed at three weeks, and a little whole wheat after four weeks.
After the chicks are five to six weeks old they may be changed gradually to a coarser and cheaper mixture, e.g. ½ starter mash and ½ growing mash during the sixth and seventh week. GROWING RATIONS:
Whole Grains (in self-feeders) used Poultry feeding
(Whole Wheat, Whole Oats, and other available Grains)
To promote the growth of late hatched pullets or of market poultry, give milk to drink as well as water. Milk may be used to replace the meat meal in the grower mash, if a separate hopper of bone meal is provided. Reduce or omit meat meal or milk if pullets are maturing too rapidly. If pasture is dried up or lacking, add 20 pounds of alfalfa meal and 2 pound of 200 D fish oil to the above growing mash.
PASTURE FOR Poultry feeding
A special effort should be made to provide tender green pasture throughout the growing period. Fall rye sown in the fall, provides early pasture for early hatched chicks. One acre sown in the spring to a mixture of 2 bushels of fall rye and ½ bushel of oats, will carry 300 to 400 chicks through most of the season. Or a thick seeding of oats may be used on the start; then after alfalfa or clover hay is cut, the colony house or shelter may be move there to give the flock clean ground and fresh green feed. Keep pasture short by grazing or cutting. A few rows of corn may be planted to give shade and shelter.
Pasture lowers the cost of growing poultry. It reduces the amount of mash and grain consumed, and allows one to use a cheap and simple growing ration. Good pasture helps to grow sleek smoothly-feathered vigorous pullets, enabling them to withstand the strain of heavy egg production the following winter.