Feeding Broiler Breeders for Chick Quality

Newsletter No. 50 Item 2

Aviagen is one of the largest poultry companies in the world.  All are aware of the tremendous advances made in the efficiency of poultry production.  Their article entitled Feeding Broiler Breeders for Chick Quality discusses nutritional aspects to achieve high production on chicken that of course do not apply to Ostrich.  However, the introduction to this article is as relevant in ostrich production.

Quote: "For a chick to fulfil its genetic potential as a broiler chicken, it is imperative that it has the best possible start in life. End Quote

For successful broiler production, a chick requires good bodyweight, with excellent nutritional reserves at day old. It needs to be in excellent health with a fully functioning immune system. From this starting point, providing the broiler with suitable environment and nutrition will enable optimal performance to be achieved.

The developing embryo and the hatched chick are completely dependent for their growth and development on nutrients deposited in the egg. Consequently, the physiological status of the chick at hatching is greatly influenced by the nutrition of the breeder hen.

In reviewing breeder nutrition, it should be remembered that nutrient supply to the broiler breeder is a sum of two parts, namely nutrient content of the diet and quantity of feed supplied to the breeder birds. Both parts need to be balanced to ensure correct daily nutrient supply.End Quote

The importance of adequate breeder nutrition can never be underestimated, it is critical to the success of chick rearing and the commercial viability of any livestock production industry.

Quote: “It is also very important to realise that the cost of feeding the breeder appropriately to ensure good nutritional status of the chick is very low when viewed on a per chick basis and compared with the total feed cost of raising a broiler to slaughter weight. Calini (2006) calculated that the cost of breeder feed contributing to the production of a chick is equivalent to only 7% of the total feed cost for a broiler grown to 2.5Kg. This illustrates the value of ensuring the best possible nutrition of the breeder". End quote

The lack of adequate nutrients provided to our Ostrich breeders currently a significant problem with Ostrich production.  It is the number one reason that conversion of eggs to chicks is very poor, chick mortality high, food conversion poor and too many days taken to reach slaughter weight – adding significantly to costs of production.

The paper “Cutting the Costs of Production” demonstrates how the breeder feed costs per chick can be more than halved even if the cost per kilo of breeder feed is doubled to provide adequate nutrients from the right sources.  This is the impact of Ostrich’s low daily intake of feed and their high production potential when the nutritional base of the feed is formulated in a “production livestock” manner.

For our industry to become competitive, all producers must recognise the need to feed breeders adequately to achieve the full genetic potential.

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