Chicken production is a lucrative enterprise that offers a competitive income for farmers who specialise 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 to ensure their optimum growth and productivity.
Phase feeding is the most effective and efficient method 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 programme is always recommended for beginners or farmers with small-to-medium-sized chicken flocks.
To implement a phase-feeding programme, 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 or a month) 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 the 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 an even balance of good proteins needed for growth and carbohydrates needed 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 the chickens maximise on their growth to reach 2.2kg live weight and be ready for the market, whereas the farmer is encouraged to change from Grower Mash to Layer Mash. This feed contains several proteins and calcium minerals that encourage egg production.
Finally, it is of great importance for farmers to note that phase feeding not only provides the 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; hence, to reduce costs and remain profitable, farmers must use phase feeding to maximise the productivity and profitability of the chicken farming business.
- Hanks Saisai is AgriBank’s technical advisor: crops and poultry