Feed Efficiency: On-Farm Checks

Newsletter No: 94

This is the title of an article that can be viewed at the Pig Site.   It references a new series of ‘Knowledge Transfer Bulletins’ from BPEX.  The topic covers an extremely important aspect of livestock production and the basic principles are as true for ostrich as they are for pig production.   Therefore it is copied into this newsletter with the wording ammended as it applies to ostrich production.  As you will see, there are very few adjustments.  The tables are deleted as they related to space requirements, building temperatures and water flow for the nipple waterers as all will clearly be very different for Ostrich.

Feeding space

Is there adequate feeder/hopper space for the number and size of ostrich in the pen? Take time to look, are ostrich crowding around the feed hopper or trough?

Feed flow rates

Are all the feeders working correctly? Adjust the feeder flow rates to maintain intake but reduce wastage. Depending on the hopper, flow rates may need to be adjusted as the ostrich grow. Check each hopper to ensure that the feeding system works.

Feed quality

The presence of dust, fines or lumps of clogged feed will reduce feed intake. Check if the feeder mechanism is damaging/crushing the feed or affecting the pellet size, increasing wastage. Try using a Bygholm sieve to check particle size, ask BPEX for more information.

Feed storage

Inspect bins and check feed for signs of mould and mites. If found, identify the source, e.g. clogged feed in the hopper or poor storage (i.e. damp and humid). If mould is present, discard the affected feed and take remedial actions immediately.


How much feed is being wasted from falling down between the slats or being spilt onto the floor around the trough and spoilt? This is expensive wastage. Identify why it is happening; is the feeder design incorrect for the size of ostrich, is overstocking causing uneven feeding, do feeder flow rates require adjustment or do the feed hoppers or feed system require repair?

Feed orders

Review your storage capacity and when placing feed orders discuss optimal load sizes with your feed supplier.

Vermin and birds

Is there evidence of rodents and/or birds on your unit? Look again at rodent and bird control. When was the last time the bait was changed? Is it time to change it? Not only are vermin a health risk but they can also lead to expensive feed waste.


Monitor the daily minimum/maximum temperatures within buildings. High temperatures reduce the appetite and therefore growth rate of pigs. Cold temperatures cause pigs to use energy to maintain body heat, rather than using it to grow. See below for recommended temperatures.


Check water availability and flow rates. Water intake drives feed intake and therefore affects growth rate and FCR.

- Are there sufficient functioning drinkers, providing a ready source of clean water?  Ostrich require sufficient space to enable the scooping action when drinking.

- Check flow rates, you just need a measuring jug/cylinder and a watch. Adequate flow rates are as essential as the number of drinkers.

- Are drinkers at the correct height for stage of bird and are they correctly positioned to allow ready access?

- Ensure water is not too hot (sun) or too cold.  Just off freezing is too cold for Ostrich and they will slow consumption and then feed intake


Is there evidence of feather pecking or body damage in the group from fighting at or around the feeder? This is an indication that there may not be enough feeding space or that feeder placement/access is inadequate and requires improvement.


Check that the feeders are clean and that there is no caked feed or fouling in the feeder trough area. This should be cleaned out on a daily basis, to reduce wastage and to encourage intake.

Long-Term Planning

It is clearly to the advantage of the ostrich producer to minimise the variation in future feed costs. This is essentially done by “locking in” prices. Although future prices may be locked in at higher than current prices, this should be more than outweighed by the knowledge of what your future feed costs are going to be. This knowledge is essential to successful business planning.

One comment

  1. […] This article discussed Food Particle Size and the use of the Bygholm Sieve as a tool to evaluate the accuracy of the particle size.   The importance of particle size is as important with ostrich production as it is with pig farming, though the particle sizes will be a little different. This article discusses an Essex pig farmer who mills his feed on farm. […]

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