Feed­ing your poults

Sporting Shooter - - Ask The Experts -

Q In the last cou­ple of years I have al­ways lost birds in the first week of re­lease be­cause they fail to find feed. How can I avoid this hap­pen­ing this year?

A

RITA ALVES of Dal­ton’s Game Con­sul­tancy replies: When pheas­ant poults are first put into re­lease pens, it is es­sen­tial that they are able to find feed and wa­ter straight away. Mov­ing to a new en­vi­ron­ment is al­ready stress­ful enough, so en­sur­ing that their wa­ter and feed con­sump­tion doesn’t drop is vi­tal.

When birds fail to feed, they tend to eat fi­brous veg­etable ma­te­rial or seeds, which they are not able to digest, but will fill their giz­zards and make them feel full. As a con­se­quence, they may lose weight and be more vul­ner­a­ble to dis­ease.

In the first week of ar­rival, feed­ers should be placed through­out the pen, ide­ally feed­ers which birds are fa­mil­iar with (such as manola feed­ers). If birds are not fa­mil­iar with the type of feed­ers, they re­quire more time to learn to use them and con­se­quently feed less, or might look for other sources of food. If you hand-feed your birds, you should still start them on feed­ers as they need time to adapt to a dif­fer­ent feed strat­egy. If you aren’t sure how many birds can feed from them, check with the sup­plier. Usu­ally, one manola feeder is rec­om­mended per 100 birds.

A few feed­ers can also be placed im­me­di­ately out­side the pen in case there are any birds es­cap­ing the pen and need­ing time to learn to use the pop­holes. Sev­eral small feed­ers are a bet­ter op­tion than one large feeder as it will re­duce the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween birds. They are also eas­ier to move around, to avoid fe­cal drop­pings build­ing up around them, which can lead to the spread of dis­ease.

An­other rea­son why birds might not be feed­ing is if they are not drink­ing. Make sure you have enough drinkers (usu­ally one drinker per 100 birds) well spread through­out the pen and an­other few out­side.

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