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NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Poultry -

DIDN’T HAVE THE FEED OP­TIONS WE HAVE TO­DAY

The big gov­ern­ing fac­tor in those early ra­tions was the avail­abil­ity or oth­er­wise of the ba­sic in­gre­di­ents as the va­ri­ety of grains and pro­tein sources var­ied widely de­pend­ing on what coun­try you were in, and your cli­mate. Di­ets var­ied greatly across the ar­eas, es­pe­cially be­tween the hot­ter and colder re­gions of Europe and North Amer­ica; a breeder in warmer climes could use corn or maize, but that was hard to ob­tain for farm­ers in Bri­tain or north­ern Europe where wheat and oats were used in­stead.

Af­ter WW2 it be­came more com­mon for milling com­pa­nies to mass pro­duce com­mer­cial feeds due to their abil­ity to buy in or im­port bulk sup­plies of grains and pro­tein sources. This made com­mer­cial feed more eas­ily avail­able to com­mer­cial farm­ers and small back­yard breed­ers or poul­try keep­ers, who were then able to ex­pand the size of their flocks to pro­duce eggs for the in­creas­ingly ur­banised pop­u­la­tion. It meant big (18-30 weeks+). The spe­cial­ist meat poul­try farmer may use up to three dif­fer­ent di­ets to fat­ten a meat (or broiler) chicken in its five to seven weeks of life be­fore it is ready for eat­ing. The lay­ing poul­try farmer may use three dif­fer­ent di­ets again to get a chick from one day old to lay­ing age, and then an­other one or two through its 12-month lay­ing cy­cle as its needs change ac­cord­ing to the rate of lay.

Whether you have a flock of her­itage breeds, ‘farm yard spe­cials’ or com­mer­cially-bred lay­ers, you need to choose what to feed them ac­cord­ing to their size and age, whether you fully feed only a com­mer­cially-made bal­anced feed, a com­bi­na­tion of feed plus kitchen scraps, or a mix of scraps, pel­lets and what birds can pick up while free-rang­ing.

KNOW QUAL­ITY IS BET­TER THAN QUAN­TITY

Many poul­try keep­ers with a small mixed flock feed what is avail­able to them: maybe a hand­ful of of layer pel­lets sup­ple­mented with some grain, prob­a­bly wheat, and pos­si­bly left­overs from the

likely to overeat a com­mer­cial, high pro­tein layer feed. In their case you can re­duce the amount of high nu­tri­ent pel­lets and add in bulkier things like veg­etable waste from the gar­den, kitchen scraps that are high in bulk and low in nu­tri­ents like bread and rice, give them ac­cess to a grassy free range area, and of­fer a daily hand­ful of lower pro­tein en­ergy grains like wheat or oats*.

You can also re­duce the amount they are fed as the con­se­quences of over-eat­ing in a heavy breed usu­ally means the ex­cess is laid down as fat. A fat bird is not usu­ally a very fer­tile bird, mean­ing less eggs and poorer hatch­a­bil­ity. *Whole grains should only be about 10-15% of a bird’s daily diet, and are best fed af­ter the bird has con­sumed its daily ra­tion of bal­anced feed. They can eas­ily over-fill birds, lack the key nu­tri­ents a bird re­quires for good health, and when not ground are far more dif­fi­cult for a bird to di­gest and gain nu­tri­tion from.

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