The importance of phase feeding in chicken production
30 June 2021 | Agriculture
Phase feeding not only provides the nutritional requirements and enhances the productivity of chickens, but also reduces the cost of feed.
To achieve the desired results from chicken production, it is important to understand that feeding is a crucial aspect of production efficiency.
Agribank’s technical advisor for crops and poultry Hank Saisai said 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 in order to ensure their optimum growth and productivity.”
Saisai said phase feeding is the most effective and efficient method for feeding chickens.
Phase feeding 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 recommended for beginners or farmers with small- to medium-sized chicken flocks, Saisai said.
Varying nutritional requirements
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, he said.
Young chicks - from a 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 must 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,” according to Saisai.
Moreover, when the chickens reach their most productive stage, there is a need to change their feed again, he added.
The farmer must change to Broiler Finisher (for broilers) to ensure that the chickens maximise on their growth to reach 2.2kg live weight and be ready for the market.
“Meanwhile for layers, the farmer is encouraged to change from Grower Mash to Layer Mash. This feed contains several proteins and calcium minerals that encourage egg production.”
Farmers should note that some rations (feeds) such as starter (Broiler Starter and Chick Starter Mash) and finisher are costly and hence to reduce costs and remain profitable, farmers must use phase feeding to maximise on the productivity and profitability of the chicken farming business, he said.