Sur­plus nu­tri­ents are con­verted into fat

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Poultry -

It’s not easy to put a chicken on the right diet your­self. Feed­ing a com­mer­cial diet which is specif­i­cally for­mu­lated for the age/type of poul­try be­ing fed is usu­ally the safest path to fol­low.

Things can eas­ily go wrong if you’re sup­ple­ment­ing this rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive food with cheaper in­gre­di­ents such as house­hold or gar­den scraps, or cheaper whole grains etc. This can mean a bal­anced diet be­comes im­bal­anced in terms of pro­tein and en­ergy, so the birds be­gin to com­pen­sate by eat­ing more of one in­gre­di­ent than they need in or­der to try and get enough of what is short.

For in­stance, if you sub­sti­tute half of a com­mer­cial layer diet with cheaper wheat, which is much lower in pro­tein, the birds will only be get­ting about three-quar­ters of the daily nu­tri­ents they re­quire. To com­pen­sate, they will eat more of the avail­able food in an ef­fort to gain the right amount of pro­tein or en­ergy. Sur­plus other nu­tri­ents are then con­verted into fat. Sup­ple­ment­ing a bal­anced diet may save you a bit of money, but there are other costs. For ex­am­ple, hens will not lay to their po­ten­tial if their bod­ies are not re­ceiv­ing suf­fi­cient nu­tri­ents to main­tain re­pro­duc­tion and main­te­nance. If the birds are on an ad­e­quate free range with plenty of in­sect life around, they may do rea­son­ably well, but if they are con­fined to a small bare earth run or a new patch of lawn each day, their health may be com­pro­mised, es­pe­cially if the feed quan­ti­ties on of­fer are re­stricted.

Bulk­ing out part of the diet with kitchen scraps or veg­etable peel­ings has the same ef­fect. The nu­tri­ent level of th­ese foods will not be what birds need, and be­cause this kind of diet is usu­ally high in en­ergy and low in pro­tein, the birds will eat more and store away the ex­tra en­ergy as fat, both around the ab­dom­i­nal or­gans and in the liver. In a her­itage breed, es­pe­cially a large breed, the ex­tra car­bo­hy­drates may not mat­ter, but it may still have an ef­fect,

can be high in phos­pho­rus, which then un­bal­ances the cal­cium-phos­pho­rous ra­tio, es­sen­tial for proper bone and egg shell man­u­fac­ture.

An­other short­fall in this type of multi-species feed is that be­cause it is pri­mar­ily in­tended for ru­mi­nants, the vi­ta­min/min­eral pre­mix in it is not likely to have choline chlo­ride added. It is also de­bat­able as to whether other vi­ta­mins – A, B, D, E and K – will be in it at a level es­sen­tial for poul­try. Even a bal­anced, com­plete poul­try feed which is only miss­ing choline can re­sult in fatty liver syn­drome in the birds which eat it.

Fi­nally, an­other pos­si­ble cause of fatty liv­ers can be afla­tox­ins. Th­ese are the toxic me­tab­o­lites pro­duced by moulds and fungi which can con­tam­i­nate feed and damp lit­ter ma­te­ri­als. Some feeds are par­tic­u­larly prone to al­low­ing mould growth when damp so the man­u­fac­tur­ers add mo­lasses as a key in­gre­di­ent. Co­pra, the dried flesh of co­conut af­ter the oil has been ex­tracted, is of­ten used in the feed man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and is known to have a high level of afla­tox­ins.

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