What not to feed your poul­try

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Poultry -

Many peo­ple be­lieve that be­cause their poul­try rush to gob­ble up food of­fer­ings, they must ‘know’ it is good for them. How­ever, sci­en­tists now know that it is a bird’s nat­u­ral be­hav­iour to be com­pet­i­tive and eat fast, no mat­ter what the food.

They will fill up their crop on foods with low or no nutri­tion if that is what is avail­able. How­ever, it means they then miss out on bet­ter qual­ity food sources they come across af­ter­wards.

The best ad­vice is to feed a bal­anced, qual­ity com­mer­cial poul­try feed first, then of­fer treats later in the day. This means birds con­sume the nutri­tion they need for health, growth and egg pro­duc­tion.

1 Milk

Poul­try own­ers of­ten think milk is a treat food. It does con­tain some use­ful pro­tein and min­er­als.

How­ever, it’s also harm­ful to poul­try, which are lac­tose-in­tol­er­ant, caus­ing di­ar­rhoea.

2 Por­ridge

A warm bowl of por­ridge oats on a cold morn­ing is an­other pop­u­lar op­tion.

But oats are low in nutri­tion, no­tably pro­tein and fat. They fill up a bird’s di­ges­tive sys­tem, leav­ing lit­tle or no room for a bird to take in a qual­ity, bal­anced poul­try feed.

The av­er­age, medium-sized (2kg) layer hen needs around 112g of food per day. Ideally that feed will con­tain 17g of pro­tein.

If she eats 56g of por­ridge (as­sum­ing 50% oats, 50% wa­ter) and 56g of layer pellets, she’s tak­ing in only 70% of her daily pro­tein re­quire­ments (3.65g of pro­tein from the por­ridge, 9.07g from the layer feed).

She would also get less B vi­ta­mins, and miss out on vi­ta­mins A, D and E which are vir­tu­ally ab­sent in oats. Over­all, she would be de­prived of around 40% of her daily nu­tri­tional needs.

Oats (and bar­ley) are also high in beta glu­cans which birds can­not digest prop­erly. These bind with wa­ter in the gut to make a gluey con­tent that then blocks the ab­sorp­tion of nutri­ents through the gut wall. It can cause necrotic en­teri­tis (in­flam­ma­tion of the gut lin­ing) and sticky wet drop­pings which form wet lit­ter.

Com­mer­cial feeds may con­tain bar­ley or oats but also have en­zymes added to help digest the beta glu­cans.

Feed­ing a heated food may ap­peal to own­ers, but birds have evolved to eat food at air tem­per­a­ture. They keep warm thanks to their nat­u­ral body tem­per­a­ture, which is higher than hu­mans, and their feathers, which are an ef­fec­tive in­su­la­tion.

3 Bread

Bread is a prob­lem food, es­pe­cially soft white bread. It can eas­ily form a ball in the crop when mixed with saliva and other flu­ids. This can then lead to a block­age and a bird be­comes ‘crop bound’.

Yeasts in bread can fer­ment. Su­gars pro­duced by fer­ment­ing bread turn into car­bon diox­ide and al­co­hol, af­fect­ing the ph of the crop, cre­at­ing more su­gars.

This can en­cour­age other yeasts such as can­dida to grow, turn­ing an un­treated ‘bound’ crop into chronic sour crop.

Poul­try may rush to eat ‘ treat’ foods but not be­cause they think it’s nu­tri­tious Soft white bread can cause a lot of trou­ble for a chicken

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