Preparing Birds for the Breeding Season
Having birds fit and healthy at the start of the breeding season is vital for successful egg and chick production. The breeding birds need to be in the right condition in the weeks leading up to breeding. Nutrition can play an important role in optimising the bird condition. Hens need to have sufficient condition and nutrient reserves to support egg production and maximise fertility and ultimately chick quality, but do not want to be over-conditioned (i.e. Fat). Whilst breeder diets are very well specified to deliver all the nutrients a laying bird requires, the protein and energy levels are not best suited for birds ahead of the production period.
Getting birds in the right condition ahead of the breeding season can be achieved by using a maintenance or pre-breeder diet for a few weeks ahead of being brought into lay. This will ensure the birds are in good condition and fit, with the correct nutrition reserves being built up. Also, it will supply appropriate levels of minerals, notably calcium and phosphorus. For breeding birds, these levels are critical with both being essential for good shell formation. Interestingly, whilst it is often assumed that it is a case of “the more the merrier” with these minerals it is important not to have too much phosphorus and calcium. An oversupply of calcium before the birds start laying can result in the bird ‘habitually’ excreting excess calcium which can lead to poor quality egg shells when the bird starts production.
So, it is worth considering your nutrition strategy with birds heading into the breeding season, and it is worth a discussion to get the best feed for this stage of production.
For anymore information on our Maintenance and Breeder diets, or to discuss this further, please contact 01489 780017 / 01508 470661 and we will put you in touch with your local game feed agent.