"FEEDING THE BREEDERS" Incubation Workshop Topics #1
© Bob Peel 2019
INCUBATION WORKSHOP 2019-2020 - NUTRITION - FEEDING THE BREEDERS.
Egg-layer feeds are only required to meet the minimum nutrition standards of an egg for human consumption. By contrast, a breeder rations formula contains all the essential nutrients that convert into the hatchling’s organs, bone, muscle, skin and feather. Feed for breeding fowls is formulated to provide all these nutrients in the correct ratio. Vitamins mixed with other feed ad-hoc in inexact proportions risk causing vitaminosis.
WATER-SOLUBLE BREEDER SUPPLEMENT
An option for those with large flocks who buy bulk feed and for those in remote areas who can’t access a supply of breeder rations is the use of a water soluble breeder supplement, adding it to the water twice daily. Vitamins are fragile molecules - their effectiveness is decreased by heat, U.V. light and contact with organic materials such as droppings and seed. Make a fresh mix immediately before use and it’s best prepared just before feeding the birds. Once mixed, ensure that it is out of the sun and that it cannot become soiled. A fresh solution is best mixed every 12 hours. Containers made of stainless steel, glass or glazed pottery are preferred because they can be thoroughly cleaned. Glass or plastic containers should preferably be opaque. Containers should be cleaned before and after use to remove any persistent bio-film.
THE FREE RANGE MYTH & Table Scraps
“Mine free-range – it provides everything, right”? Our clue from nature is that wild birds breed within a short window when food variety and supply are plentiful. And birds in nature are free to cover a wide range gathering their needs. Contrast this with our flightless fowls restricted to the same free-range patch day in and day out, constrained to the food types which are seasonal. And fowls are like small children: they eat first what is most palatable.
Six weeks before breeding season we start feeding a formulated breeder ratio ad lib or provide a water soluble breeder supplement. Table scraps (and grain mixes) are best fed in small amounts and late in the afternoon.
And why the six weeks? It’s not for rectifying the vitamin deficiencies; vitamins are organic and quickly broken down by heat and body acids, whereas absorbing a lacked mineral is like asking the body to absorb a rock.
Deficiencies are not always evident in opened failed eggs. Later, when we troubleshoot failed hatches we will identify the more common nutrition causes. For now let’s look at the scary attachments, OK?