UNDERSTAND THE DIETS OF POULTRY BIRDS AT DIFFERENT GROWTH PHASE

Poultry feeding takes about 75 percent of the total cost of production, the diet fed to birds determines the productivity of the birds and the profitability of the business. Profit maximization is the objective of every private business. Poultry diets are of different forms, like pellets, mash or crumbles. All these forms are made to interest the birds in the diet given. In poultry business, there are basically four types of diets namely:

  •  Starter.
  • Grower.
  • Finisher.
  • Layer.
All these feeds are formulated to perform distinct functions in the development or growth, both physiologically and metabolically, on the birds system. Their composition contains what the birds actually need at that particular age. These feeds are function of the birds age.
  • Starter feed
A starter diet is the type of feed given to poultry birds from a day old to eight (8) weeks and a day old to three (3) weeks for layers and broilers respectively. Broiler is fast maturing meat producing bird that attains market maturity at about six weeks of age. At the age of a day old to eight weeks for layers and cockerels or three weeks for broilers, the birds need some certain nutrients in which only this diet can provide it. Starting from the particle sizes, a starter diet has relatively smaller particular compare to other diets because the birds are small and can only utilize feed of smaller particle sizes.
Considering the nutritional composition of this diet, a starter is more nutritious and contains nutrients required for optimum growth of the chicks. A starter contains 18 percent crude protein for layers starter or cockerel and 22 percent crude protein for broilers. As younger chicks, they need this high crude protein content to build there immune system and development and maintenance of tissues for make them fit as they grow. This diet is characterized by high nutrient content to aid the development of the birds.
  • Grower feed

Grower is the diet given to pullets or cockerel  at the age of nine (9) to twenty-three (23) weeks and broiler at four (4) to five (5) weeks. The nutrient composition of this diet is low compare to the starter. The particle sizes of this diet is larger than the starter. This feed contains 16 percent crude protein for pullets and  20 percent crude protein for broilers and high energy, the protein content has been reduced to the level required by the birds. The energy content is much because the birds are now grown and tend perform more of inherent or habitual activities which enervate them, therefore, they need additional energy to complement the used ones.
  • Finisher feed
This diet is the last feed given to broilers at the age of six (6)  and seven (7) weeks before sale. The finisher feed basically provides the nutrients that will sum up the basic requirements of the birds. It contains 18 percent crude protein with high energy to sustain life. At this age, they are ready for sale so the farmer might tend to reduce cost here. The diet is high in energy because the birds are much engaged in inherent activities. The protein content is lower than grower because as the birds grow, their protein content decreases and energy increases.
  • Layer feed
Layer is a special diet formulated to aid egg production in laying birds. The standard layer diet is given to laying birds at about twenty-three (23) week, the mistake most poultry farmers make is that, they give standard layer feed to laying birds at about seventeen (17) week, when the birds are on their point of lay or probably just started laying. Standard laying diet should not be fed to birds at point of lay or during their first week of lay. Giving them layer feed at seventeen (17) week would not meet their nutrient requirement at that age thereby reducing their production potential.
As said earlier, a layer feed is specially for laying birds. It is formulated such that, it aids their production. A layer diet has 17 percent crude protein and high in calcium to aid shell formation.

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