In my last blog, I mentioned a brain-storming session I had with a group of broiler producers. One of them asked if we still need to feed three feeds like times past; he was quite old, so he was remembering when broilers where marketed at 10 weeks old.
I did a quick poll, and most respondents said they still use three feeds, even though they market their birds at 35 to 42 days of age (5 to 6 weeks of age). In general, they feed a starter feed for about 2 weeks, followed by a grower feed for another two, and a finisher feed for the remaining of the life cycle of the broilers.
After some discussion, I realized that having to deal with three feeds in this period of time creates some logistics problems, especially when the facilities are not large enough to efficiently handle the feed type change. When asked, they all said they would like to have fewer feeds. So, I had a surprise for them, as one of them was following a new program of mine.
After some trial-and-error time, we ended up feeding a broiler super-restarter for 4 days. This is an expensive feed, but it works as a digestive booster. It is spread on the floor mats, and it does not go into the feeders. In general, we allow about 50 grams of this feed per broiler. I believe we all know how much young broilers love such feeds, so I will not comment on feed intake, but what surprised us at the beginning was the reduced mortality.
At any rate, the biggest advantage is that, for the whole feeding period, from day 1 to market, we use only one feed. It might go against all we know about phase feeding and everything else but, in practice, this producer makes money. In fact, he saves money compared with feeding the old three-phase feeding program. And, this is the difference between nutrition theory and applied animal nutrition. I cannot guarantee that this program will work at another farm, but some producers in the group are going to give it a try.