Half Get Fixed, Gamebird Nutrition
Proper diet and nutrition are key components of rearing a quality bird. They can affect everything from mortality to flight ability. Just like people, game birds need a balanced diet to grow, live, and survive; for this reason, a complete feed is the best option to feed game birds. A complete feed formula has many components that are essential to a game bird diet. It is extremely important that game birds have the proper balance of vitamins and minerals, which coincide with the correct protein and energy levels; for this reason use a fixed formula.
The fixed formula is simple. First, work with a nutritionist to come up with the proper specifications for the feed (i.e. a balanced diet). The next step is to determine what ingredients you will need to produce the desired specifications. When using a fixed formula prices of the ingredients will vary, but not the formulation. Fixed formulas give the birds a balanced diet. With the type and amount of ingredients known, it becomes much easier to isolate the cause if problems occur. For instance, if the protein level comes back low more than likely it is a soybean meal issue. If the energy is high, it is probably a corn issue. If ingredients are changed on a regular basis it is difficult to determine the problem.
When ingredients are changed simply based on price, it is known as “least costing” the feed. In least costing, substitution of cheaper ingredients occurs when the price of a component or components increases. Birds can have different reactions to different ingredients. It may cause birds to get hysteria, start picking, or weaken their immune system making them susceptible disease.
Least costing has the potential to be disastrous in game birds, although it does have its place, it must be done with discretion. Without a doubt, huge variations in feed ingredients will have a detrimental impact on the birds. As a rule, never least cost starter or breeder feeds.
Always use a fixed formula for starter and breeder feeds. It is important the birds get a proper diet early in life. Least costing feed at this point in life can have grave consequences. The feed will cost a little more, but decreased mortality and increased chick health generate savings. Fixed formulas are also important in breeder diets. This is because birds in production are more susceptible to changes in their diet. Least costing feed at this point can lower fertility, decrease production, reduce shell quality, or even increase mortality.
There is a lot less risk involved in least costing grow out feeds. By the time the birds go outside, much of their development has already taken place. Varying the ingredients in these birds’ feed will not have the impact it would on younger birds. For this reason, least costing grow-out feeds, to a certain extent, can be beneficial. Not recommended however, are huge swings in formulations, or switching ingredients on a regular basis.
A complete feed with a fixed formula is the best way to ensure young game birds and breeders get a balanced diet. Least costing feed is an acceptable practice in older birds as long as it is not taken to extremes. Just as in people, a balanced diet plays a tremendous role in bird health and performance. There is a fine line between being smart and being frugal, don’t get caught on the wrong side of the line.
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