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What kind of food to feed BREEDER BIRDS?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by muscovy94, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. muscovy94

    muscovy94 Songster

    Nov 11, 2008
    Vicksburg, MS
    hey everyone is there a certain kind of food to feed your breeder chickens? I've heard it's good to feed them gamebird feed because the extra protein is good
    For them when breeding. Is that true?

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Commercial breeders do feed their breeders differently from their laying flocks. It is probably pretty difficult for us to find the special feed for a breeding flock, and I've seen some extension web sites that say it is not worth it for smaller flocks. The feed stores are not generally going to sell enough for them to carry it.

    Best I can determine, the difference is in vitamins and minerals, not protein. I'm not going to argue with anyone that increasing the protein content will help. It very well could. Since feed loses its vitamins over time, try not to feed out of date feed to your breeders.

    I took this from a different website. I don't think they are a competing website but not sure, so I won't give a link.

    A Guide to Better Hatching

    Janet Stromberg, Stromberg Publishing Company, Box 400, Pine River, Minnesota 56474 [​IMG]1975

    Commercial hens will produce on a wide range of laying diets. This doesn't mean that the same diets are adequate for breeding flocks. Slight vitamin or mineral deficiencies may prevent an otherwise normal fertilized egg from hatching. Diet deficiencies which may reduce hatchability to zero, often will not have any ill-effect on the health or productive performance of the breeder hen.

    Both males and females should be placed on a breeder diet five to six weeks before saving hatching eggs. By the end of this period the hen will have deposited all of the essential nutrients required for proper embryo development in the yolk.

    Providing adequate vitamins in a breeding ration is very important. Following is a brief discussion of some vitamin and mineral deficiency symptoms. Deficiencies of various trace elements and vitamins may lead to reduced hatchability and poor chick quality. Dead embryos may exhibit conditions that reveal the particular vitamin deficiencies causing their death. A deficiency of Vitamin B-12 will cause a rapid decrease in hatchability. There's also a poorer survival rate for chickens that do hatch. Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2) deficiencies also cause poor hatchability with embryos showing clubbed down. The degree of the deficiency affects the stage at which death of the embryo takes place. An example is that a marginal deficiency of pantothenic acid may permit almost normal hatchability but poor chick viability. A greater deficiency results in heavier portality at the end of 21 days. An extreme deficiency causes high mortality as early as twelve to sixteen days with no embryos surviving to hatch.

    Biotin, choline, and manganese help prevent a condition known as perosis or slipped tendon. An acute deficiency of bioton causes high embryo mortality during the period of 72 to 96 hours of incubation. A manganese deficiency gives rise to embryos with parrot beaks and nutritional chondrodystlrophy, which is a shortening of the long bones of the embryo. A choline deficiency is unlikely as the hen seems fully able to synthesize her own requirements.

    These vitamins and minerals must be included in your breeder's diet: riboflavin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B-12, niacin, folic acid, biotin, cholin, Vitamin A, Vitamin D-3, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Most commercial breeder mashes and concentrates are sufficiently fortified and contain more than an adequate amount of these essential vitamins and minerals to insure proper embryo development.
  3. HorizonSon

    HorizonSon Songster

    Oct 5, 2010
    Pacific NW
    Plant comfrey and stinging nettle for you, your livestock and your garden. It takes 3~6 years for comfrey to develop really really deep roots for those trace minerals. Do the research and you will ne wondering why no one told you before [​IMG] We have to keep wire around ours so that the chickens don't eat it to the ground, lol. The screening allows them to get to a decent size before they can reach it.
  4. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    By Mark Pattison, Paul McMullin, Janet M. Bradbury

    Nutrition and Hatchability

    The importance of the nutrition of the dam is indicated by the fact that the egg must contain all the nutrients needed by the embryo.

    Development in the egg and for a week or more after hatching is, as far as fat soluble vitamins and some other factors are concerned, reliant upon supplies from the yolk. Hence, deficiency signs in newly hatched chicks (and often within the next 7 - 10 days) usually reflect a breeder feed inadequacy rather than a relationship with the starter feed.

    It is difficult to affect the relative protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of an egg via the diet of the hen, but the concentration of the vitamins and trace elements in her blood and tissues directly influences that in her egg. Hence, analyses of egg yolk to determine vitamin and other deficiencies in the breeder may be the preferred and more direct route than blood or tissue sampling of the relevant hens.

    Even at acceptable rates of hatchability a proportion of dead-in-shell embryos may exhibit nutritional signs, as detailed above, as a result of individual variations of metabolism.

    It is of basic importance to realize that hens can produce eggs with dietary levels of vitamins that will not allow the eggs to hatch (except in the case of Vitamin A deficiency, in which the cessation of production occurs first).

    Nutrient deficiencies may give rise to malformed embryos or reduction in hatchability, but it may be difficult to identify by the examination of the embryo the nutrient deficiency responsible for the poor hatchability, since the time of embryonic death will often depend on the degree of deficiency involved. Thus, it has been shown by experiment with pantothenic acid that, while in extreme deficiency hatchability may be totally suppressed, in milder deficiencies a peak of early mortality (1-4 days) occurs but later peaks change according to the amount of pantothenic acid in the diet. Most water-soluble vitamins have a similar effect.

    In practice the nutrient deficiencies most likely to give rise to reduced hatchability, unless adequate breeder supplements are used, are Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and some others of the B group (eg biotin), Vitamin E, manganese, zinc, phosphorus.

    Early death may be related to:
    * Biotin
    * Vitamin E deficiency (vascular lesions).

    Later death (ie later and around mid-term) may be related to:
    * Riboflavin (anaemia, oedema, micromelia, mesonephros degeneration, and clubbed down)
    *Phosphorus (no specific abnormalities)
    *Zinc inadequacies (faulty trunk, limb, beak, brain and eye development - abnormalities associated with development of the skeletal mesoderm).

    Death during the last few days and at hatching, may be related to deficiencies of the following:
    *Vitamin B2 (clubbed down, curled toe, micromelia, degeneration of the myelin sheath of peripheral nerves, degeneration of embryonic Wolffan bodies)
    *Biotin chondrodystrophy, syndactyly, characteristic skeletal deformities, ataxia, and chondrodystrophy in newly hatched chicks)
    *Folic Acid (chicks may be of normal appearance but die soon after pipping; in severe depletion chondrodystrophy, syndacryly, and parrot beak)
    *Vitamin B12 (malposition, myoatrophy, chondrodystrophy, oedema, hemorrhage)
    *Manganese (chondrodystrophy, parrot beak, globular head, cervicothoracic oedema, retarded down feather and body growth, micromelia and ataxia in newly hatched chicks) - bone formation defects are probably associated with abnormal mucopolysaccharide in the organic matrix of bone. Vitamin B12 and manganese deficiencies may be associated with extreme reduction in hatchability.

    Nutritional deficiencies may be direct (ie due to inadequate supply in the feed). This can be the result of nutrients not being added, badly mixed or badly stored feed. Alternatively, dilution by post-manufacture addition of cereals to formulated rations can be implied.

    Indirect deficiencies can be caused by antagonists such as mycotoxins, inadequate absorption (eg parasitism or disease), underconsumption (eg overcrowding), or the results of an inappropriate drug inclusion.

    While "nutritional deficiency lesions" are commonly seen in dead-in-shell embryos, incorrect feed manufacture is now seldom incriminated and definitive deficiencies of single nutrients are rare. Instead, a miscellany of lesions suggestive of a number of nutrient shortfalls is the commoner finding. It has also been reported that syndromes, which seem to mimic the signs of certain deficiencies, may be evident despite adequate supplies of that nutrient in the feed (eg a clubbed down syndrome has been seen in flocks well supplied with Vitamin B2).

    Definitions for those who may not know:

    chondrodystrophy: A disturbance that affects the development of the cartilage of the long bones and that especially involves the region of the epiphysial plates, resulting in arrested growth of the long bones.

    myoatrophy: atrophy or wasting away of the muscles.

    syndactyly: A condition in which two or more of the toes are joined (fused) together.

    oedema: The presence of an excessive amount of fluid in or around cells, tissues or serous (resembling, producing, or containing serum) cavities of the body.

    micromelia: abnormally small and imperfectly developed extremities.

    ataxia: shaky and unsteady movements or loss of the ability to coordinate muscular movement.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    With this statement in Kathy's article and what was said in the one I found, it appears extra protein is not called for in breeders, which was your initial question. It appears a vitamin supplement may not be a bad idea if you cannot get the feed specially made for breeders, but if you are getting decent hatches anyway, it may be unnecessary. With the two articles, you have quite a bit of information to work with.

    It is difficult to affect the relative protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of an egg via the diet of the hen,

    Thanks for posting the question. Because of your post and Kathy's response, I learned something. The approach I'll use is to make sure the feed is not too old and is stored in a dry relatively cool place so it does not lose its potency plus I'll let mine free range and get a variety of other stuff on their own. I let mine run out of food a couple of times a week so they will clean it all up anyway. That keeps it from getting old and impotent plus keeps it from getting moldy. Seems like that is even more important for breeders.

    Good luck and happy hatching!
  6. vmdanielsen

    vmdanielsen Songster

    Sep 20, 2010
    West Lebanon, NY
    Along with a good feed, would you recommend added vitamins? Here in the frozen Northeast, there is not much to free range them on all winter. Besides, we will be under snow soon... If you choose to supplement, what brand names would you choose?

  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I personally don't so I can't recommend anything. I know there are people on this forum that are more up on this topic. Hopefully they will respond. I will mention the exension agency comments I read that said it is not usually worth it for small flock owners like us. But if you are having hatch rate issues and seem to be doing everything else right, this may be something worth considering.

    If you plan on hatching eggs this winter, then it is an issue for you. If you are not hatching eggs, then I'd not worry about it until about six weeks before you plan to start hatching.

    I have not done it, but it is possible the feed store will special order you a bag of the breeder feed if it is available to them. There may be a special order fee, but then they may wind up paying for transportation and the cost to you is not excessive. If it is an issue for you, I don't see that it would hurt to talk the them so you can make a more informed decision. Just because you ask them about it does not mean that you have to special order it. You can always say no thank you if you wish.

  8. vmdanielsen

    vmdanielsen Songster

    Sep 20, 2010
    West Lebanon, NY
    Quote:I have not bred, yet. Just curious. Loading my head up with information that I may never need:)
    Thank you for the reply

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