Picking Poultry Diets & Supplements
When people think of poultry, the first thing that tends to come to mind is the delicious food that they produce. The eggs we have for breakfast made by the chickens, the turkeys raised for meat. Or maybe you have them simply as companion animals and friends!
But in order for them to live long, healthy lives by your side and in effect produce the food you need, you have to make sure the poultry is being taken care of, too! This starts by feeding them a well balanced diet that contains all the nutrients they need.
- Water - Just as water is essential to humans, it’s essential to animals, too. In fact, it can be considered more important since animals can go longer without food in comparison to water. Water makes up a majority of poultry’s blood and body, and is very important in helping feed to pass through the digestive tract.
- Carbohydrates - These are a needed source of energy for poultry and should make up the bulk of the animals’ diet. It’s given in the form of cereal grains like wheat, barley, and corn.
- Fats - Fats are similar to carbohydrates in how they are great sources of energy. However, fats contain more than twice the amount. Fat is composed of essential fatty acids, which promotes healthy cells and a highly important nutrient: linoleic acid. In addition to energy and linoleic acid, fat is needed in order to absorb Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
- Proteins - Not surprisingly, proteins are yet another source of energy. But protein is more known for its importance in building and maintaining strong, lean muscles and tissues. It’s also important for egg production since egg whites are full of protein. Protein is composed of essential and nonessential amino acids, which is converted by cells into the specific proteins that each animal needs. Many ingredients are needed in poultry feed to supply appropriate levels of the essential amino acids. Protein sources include vegetables and other animals, such as soybeans, lupins, canola seed, fish meal, meat and bone meal, etc.
Vitamins - Vitamins are organic compounds required in small amounts for proper growth and bodily functions. Vitamins A, D, E, K, C, B, and D are all very important for processes such as tissue growth, bone development, egg formation, metabolism, etc. Some vitamins, such as Vitamin D, can be produced by the systems within the bird itself. Other vitamins, on the other hand, need to be supplied through poultry feed.
Minerals - Minerals are inorganic compounds that are important for different processes and growth, too. More important to poultry are minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Less essential to poultry, but still important, is iron, iodine, selenium, zinc, manganese, etc. These minerals ensure healthily functioning metabolism, oxygen transportation, blood clot formation, digestion, and an overall stronger immune system.
Types of Feed & Supplements
Poultry food consists of several types of feed.
Firstly, there’s starter feed. Starter Feed is for poultry about 6 to 10 weeks of age. These formulas contain appropriate levels of higher protein for baby chicks, and even higher levels of protein for game birds like turkeys, pheasants, and quail. This is what helps to kickstart their growth.
Grower Feed is used for poultry 6 to 20 weeks of age until they reach maturity. These contain a mix of protein, as well as essential minerals like calcium.
Layer Feed consists of pellets, crumbles, scratch, or mashes. This is meant for hens that have already started laying eggs. It usually has up to 16% protein and zones in on needed vitamins and minerals for the best possible food production.
Feeds include any of the following ingredients to ensure healthy, happy poultry and proper production:
- Alfalfa meal
- Fish meal
- Meat and bone meal
Supplements consist of choosing feeds that will properly support your poultry’s health and food production process. Once you’ve selected the appropriate products, supplement further by carefully selecting additional berries, leafy greens, pumpkin, eggs, herbs, and veggies.
There are so many terminologies and components that need to be considered when choosing a well balanced, complete, nutritious feed for your poultry. But if you remember to choose a product that contains the essential nutrients and healthiest of ingredients, then you are sure to support your poultry at every life stage and help them produce the food you need!