The Importance Of A Quality Balanced Diet
First of all, different breeds have different requirements of nutrients. I would advise looking at the nutrient requirements of the particular breed you are rearing and seeing if the diet you are feeding is meeting those requirements. As with all animals, the rearing period is very important.
If the diet is right then and the pullet is growing well with body weight on target, they are having the best start possible and more likely to produce better later in life. Management is also very important at this stage. Keeping sheds as clean as possible and also preventing birds from perching over feeders (re-cycling infection) will hopefully prevent the spread of disease through the flock.
Infections and disease will cause the birds to become stressed and their nutrient requirements will be increased. So, at this time it is vital to look at feed intakes to match the diet to the requirements of the flock.
As the birds come into lay, it is very important that they are of sufficient body weight and they are getting enough nutrition for maintenance plus production.
The birds experience a lot of changes to their body at this time in getting ready for production and this is a stressor in itself. Also, if the birds are not getting sufficient nutrition at this time they will be stressed and will perhaps take longer to come into lay or will not have the ability to reach the peak of production that they could do on a balanced diet suited to their requirements.
When formulating poultry diets, you should formulate to amino acid levels rather than protein. Animals cannot synthesise all the amino acids that they require so these ‘essential' amino acids must be supplied in the diet. The most important amino acid in poultry diets is methionine (the first limiting amino acid).
It is vital that the birds' requirement of amino acids is met and that all amino acids are balanced in relation to one another. The digestibility of amino acids is also very important to look at when formulating diets as different protein sources have different amino acid availabilities.
Oversupply of certain amino acids can also be an issue, not only will they be potentially degraded and wasted, they may also be toxic to the animal or negatively influence the metabolism of other amino acids.
Also it is very important to get the protein energy balance right in the diet. Energy is required for the synthesis and degradation of protein, so it is vital to supply adequate energy in the diet. Although, it is important not to oversupply energy as birds will tend to eat less of a high energy ration, therefore, not getting their required nutrients. Written by a leading poultry nutritionalist.