Feeding Poultry Stock
FROM SASKATCHEWAN AGRICULTURE
Most small flock owners couldn't care whether it takes 80 days to grow a roasting chicken or 140 days, as long as the birds survive, are good sized and cost a minimum of cash to raise. As a consequence of this desire to save money, there is a longer growing season, mortality is far too high and in many flocks the results are very disappointing.
A chick when hatched has the potential to grow at a particular rate as determined by its breeding. No chick ever attains its maximum potential; because poultrymen never have the best surroundings and the most suitable food. Nevertheless, we can come close to this genetic potential.
A good flock of roasters (cockerels) will weigh 8 lbs live at 80 days, using 18 to 22 lbs of commercial feed. Mortality of only 5% is common. Cash costs for feed in this method may run approximately $2.80 per bird but the bird will be healthy, of good weight and with the fewest losses.
In as much as most farmers have suitable grain on their premises, it makes sense to use your own grains. Most commercial roaster growers use a 20% protein starter, 18% grower and a 16% finisher. They would use about 4 lbs of starter, 7 lbs of grower, and 9 lbs of finisher per bird. Using concentrate (38% protein) you would use a total of 7 ¼ lbs of starter and concentrate, and 13 lbs of grain for each bird. For best results, you would likely buy 4 lbs of starter and 3 ¼ lbs of concentrate with 13 lbs of grain. The proportions for the 18% grower would be ¼ concentrate, and for the 16% - 15 lbs of concentrate for every 85 lbs of grain. With using this feeding procedure and good management, you should be able to get nearly the same growth as with all commercial rations. Cash cost for the feed using this method would run approximately $1.40 per bird.
This is the method used by too many small flock operators. The birds get off to a good start with a balanced ration of chick starter, only to be abandoned just as they really get going. With farm grains, grass and scraps they will get about 12 to 13% protein, very little vitamin A, almost no calcium and little usable phosphorous, as well as a shortage of other nutrients. Nutritional diseases, as well as other diseases, will now have an easy time getting established. Because the body health is now weakened, coccidiosis can take a toll, as well as predators; mortality of 20 to 50% is usual. This certainly is not the way that makes sense or cents.