03
Sep
08

Nutrtion, Egg Production, and Chicks


By DocMoll

As I sat here thinking about a few things I could post to help some of the younger people that are just starting with fowl. My mind rolled back to late night when a young member asked in the shout box what to feed his fowl to help, or better there nutrition. Well there are several different answers to this, some of which you can get online from several different sites. None of which is wrong for the reasons it worked for them. But I will write on what I did for grandpa when his fowl stopped producing eggs, and the ones that were laid wasn’t fertile.

When I moved back to West Virginia grandpa hadn’t got more then 10 chicks hatched off each year for the last 4 or 5 years in a row. He had asked me if I would try to get them to lay, and get them to hatch at a better rate for him. So the first thing I did, was look at the feed they was getting on a daily basis. Well, it was far from what they needed in my mind, and I adjusted it to fit what I wanted them to get. I went and bought a good mixture of a grain feed that was around 16% protein. In this feed was a little of everything such as corn, sunflower seed, pigeon feed, Milo, dog food, wheat, oats, and so on.

I went the next day and bought several small bags of vitamins with electrolytes, a bag of all-purpose powdered milk, a bag of oyster shells, several bails of straw, a couple bails of hay, and one bag of grit from the local feed store. On the way home I stopped and bought several types of fruits and veggies from the super market. this is what they would receive for there daily feed from now on.

When I got to the house I went to the brood pens and wormed, and deloused all the brood fowl. While I had them in my hands I trimmed the feathers around the vent area on each cock and hen, down to the skin. Then I cleaned out each pen, and put fresh straw about 6″ deep. This is to keep them active digging, and scratching for food. I found enough milk jugs to place to in each pen for the grit, and oyster shells. (Just cut the front of the jug open to where there is about a 3″ to 4″ lip on the bottom.) I mounted them to the walls, so they would stay there and in a fashion to where they could be easily removed to clean when needed. I filled them up with the oyster shells and grit and left them.

Each day I would take some of the hay and place in each pen. Now you got to figure out what each bird needs when it comes to hay, as you don’t want it laying there getting wet. Hay will mold and isn’t good for them at that point. The way I had it running was about a 1/4 of a bat per trio. If it was raining, they didn’t get the hay on them days.

Now back to the feed, and how to feed it. First you need to figure out how much feed you need to feed each day. When you have the answer to that question, you will know what type of bucket you will need to feed this way. Grandpa had several brood pens so a five gallon worked well for me. Each day I would place the amount of feed I needed for the next days feeding in it. I put one cup of the all-purpose powered milk in it, and one big tablespoon of the vitamins with electrolytes. Now soak the feed mixture over night in water. You want it to be moist, not water logged. The best way I can describe the moister in the feed mix is you want it to be as moist as pizza doe. The next day before I fed I would cut up what types of fruits, or veggies I wanted in it, and place them in the mix and stirred it up. I fed this to them one time a day in cups, so they got it all. Now feed them just enough to where they eat it all. You don’t want it setting there all day. If they don’t clean it up in a half hour or so, dump it out on the yard.

Each day take a small amount of grit, and toss it in to each pen to get them to scratching looking for feed in the hay. The object is to keep the active, so they don’t get fat just setting on the roost poles. Fat fowl don’t produce as good as healthy fowl does.

I also built nests to where the hens could get into, so they could hide from the cock in the pen. Several times a cock will aggravate a hen while she is on the nest, and this will cause broken eggs, as well as causing the hen stress that causes a drop in egg production.

With the method above in place I hatched 339 chicks that year out of 350 eggs that were set in the incubator.

If you want to read more from DocMoll, you can at the Ultimate Fowl Forum!

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