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Animal Health

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Livestock Production
Monday, August 13, 2007 3:40:51 PM
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Formulating feed in challenging times

Dr K.R. Gunasekar



Nutritionists have to face many challenges while formulating feed such as varying weather conditions, high altitude, high disease pressure, fluctuating market conditions and poor-availability or high prices of raw materials used in feed.


Poultry production efficiency is adversely affected by high temperature and humidity. A conducive environment should be provided for effective management of animals so as to improve the efficiency of production performance in different seasons.


Increasing the energy content of feed is required to tackle reduced feed intake in spite of the fact that in summer, the maintenance energy requirement of the bird is comparatively less. The increase in energy is best achieved by adding fat (oil) that stimulates feed intake and improves palatability of feed.


Other nutrients need to be increased proportionately along with the energy level. Minimising excess amino acids improves feed intake, and ammonium chloride in feed improves weight gain.


Sodium bicarbonate supplementation at 1.5 kg/MT of feed also helps in maintaining the acid-base balance.


Electrolyte balance in feed should be maintained at more than 250 mEq especially during summer.


Usage of Vitamin C (coated) at a minimum dose of 100 g/MT of feed is advisable.


Addition of electrolytes (summer mix) without disturbing the diet's electrolyte balance helps alleviate summer stress, while the use of organic trace minerals is advised.


Inclusion of a cocktail enzyme is preferable during summer months. Phytase addition (5000 FYT/g) (40 - 100 g/MT) depending on the feed formula is very useful in reducing stress to the birds.


Numerous investigators have documented that nicarbazin increases mortality during high ambient temperatures. Although nicarbazin is an effective anticoccidial drug, its use should be avoided during hot weather, regardless if it is used in combination with another anticoccidial.


At higher altitudes, one of the most common observations is reduced weight gain, due to increased basal metabolic rate and reduced feed intake. Studies have shown that high carbohydrate intake can reduce effects of altitude on performance.


In prevailing high disease challenge environments, it is essential to rear poultry with competent immune systems.


It is always wise to stick to formulations that give high returns or produce broilers at the lowest cost possible. But sometimes due to marketing reasons, producers have to delay or advance the birds' growth. In such cases, we need to stick to standard formulations for pre-starter & starter and early feeds. Depending on the need, either the finisher rations can be made into high density during favourable conditions, or diluted during unfavourable conditions to delay the growth.


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Article made possible through the contribution of Avitech.



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