Phase feeding in chicken production
24 June 2021 | Agriculture
Chicken production is a lucrative enterprise that offers a competitive income for farmers that specialize in meat or egg production. However, to achieve the desired results from the chicken enterprise, it is of great importance to understand that feeding is a crucial aspect of production efficiency.
Modern chicken farming is greatly influenced by the feed farmers provide to their chickens. It is vital to provide the right feed that meets the nutritional requirements of chickens in order to ensure their optimum growth and productivity.
Phase feeding is the most effective and efficient method in which one can feed his/her chickens. By definition, it is the form of feeding that involves the use of specific formulated feeds to meet the changing nutritional requirements of chickens. A three-phase feeding program is always recommended for beginners or farmers with small-to-medium sized chicken flocks.
To implement a phase feeding program, it is of great importance for farmers to understand that chickens at various stages of production have varying nutritional requirements. Young chicks (from day old to about 14 days) use most of the feed (80%) for growth and only about 20% for maintenance.
At this stage, there is a need to buy feed that is high in protein content such as Broiler Starter for broilers or Chick Starter Mash for layers.
After 14 days (for broilers) or a month (for layers) it is beneficial to change the type of feed given to chickens. To this end, a farmer has to introduce Broiler Grower (for broilers) or Grower Mash (for layers) as this will ensure that the feed meets the chickens’ nutritional requirements.
Broiler mash has a balance of proteins needed for growth and carbohydrates for energy.
Moreover, when the chickens reach their most productive stage, there is a need to change their feed. The farmer must change to Broiler Finisher (for broilers) to ensure that the chickens maximize on their growth to reach 2,2kg liveweight and be ready for the market. On the flip side, farmers are encouraged to change from Grower Mash to Layer Mash since this feed contains several proteins and calcium minerals that encourage egg production.
Finally, it is important for farmers to note that phase feeding not only provides nutritional requirements and enhances the productivity of chickens but also, reduces the cost of feed.
Farmers should note that some rations (feeds) such as starter (Broiler Starter & Chick Starter Mash) and finisher are costly and hence, to reduce costs and remain profitable, farmers must use phase feeding to maximize on the productivity and profitability of the chicken farming business.
*Hanks Saisai is AgriBank’s Technical Advisor: Crops & Poultry.