Introduction to F-R-M Show Gold Trio Show Chicken Feeds
Somewhere along the line, you decided that you wanted to grow Show Chickens. We assume there were many factors involved in this decision. When a nutritionist is designing a feed program for Show Chickens, there are also many nutritional and management factors that must be taken into consideration. All of these factors cannot be addressed in one feed line; however, the majority of them have been addressed in our new F-R-M “Show Gold Trio” Chicken Feed Line. Under items 1 through 4, below, we have listed some of the variables that must be considered from a nutritional standpoint.
1. Pens – Pens will range from individual pens containing 1 chicken, group pens with 5 or 10 chickens, to large pens containing 30 to 40 chickens. The pens may be on screen, on flooring or in open chicken yards.
2. Breeds – There may be all of one breed in a pen, one or two breeds in a pen, or multiple breeds in a pen. These breeds may be classic American Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire’s, Cornish-White Plymouth Rock Crosses (the modern broiler chicken); or, exotic breeds such as Australorp’s, Light Brahman’s, Cochin’s, Hamburg’s, Silkie’s, etc.
3. Type Chicken – Normally, there are three types of chickens; meat type, combination meat and egg type and egg type. The show chickens in your pens may include one, two, three or multiple breed types.
4. Purpose of the Feed – A Show Chicken grower wants perfect plumage that is also shiny, a lean athletic bird with a solid and lean breast, great yellow color (if it is a part of the breed type) or no color (if it is not a part of the breed type, such as the Polish breeds).
It is virtually impossible to make one feed that satisfies all of the demands for the show chicken fancier, so some growers may tend to become creative. This and that is added to existing complete feeds because someone else did. This starter feed and that grower feed, along with another holding feed may be fed, when these feeds probably are not compatible with each other. Additionally, there is usually some opposition to the use of antibiotics and coccidiostats in show feeds; however, if birds are not raised in confinement, at a minimum, a coccidiostat should be included in the starter diet.
No feed is perfect; yet when there is a problem with feathering, performance, disease, worms, etc., it is most often blamed on the feed. In most cases, it is not the fault of the feed, but a combination of issues that affect the bird’s performance. So, everyone should be sure to do a “complete” investigation of the cause of a problem when one arises.
What we at F-R-M have done is attempt to manufacture a line of feeds that will not be all things to all people (and their birds), yet satisfy the majority of your desires. This line has been named the F-R-M “Show Gold Trio“, consisting of a Show Chick Starter in medicated form (Trio-1), a Show Chicken Grower (Trio-2) and a Show Chicken Maintenance Feed (Trio-3).
On a nutritional note, many times we hear from people who are concerned about the protein and fat level of a show feed. Please understand that these numbers are basically meaningless. What “is” important is the balance between the building blocks of protein, amino acids, and the metabolizable energy (ME) content of the feed, which comes from fat, starches and carbohydrates. If there is an excess of ME relative to amino acids, the birds put on fat. If there is a deficiency of ME relative to the amino acid levels, the birds are forced to catabolize protein to yield energy (a metabolic process that consumes energy), and the birds remain lean. So, please do not judge these feeds based on their protein and fat concentration. The fiber maximum in a feed provides a little insight in that the higher fiber feeds will “normally” have a lower biological value of their contained amino acids than the lower fiber feeds, but you can’t really take this to the bank either.
During visits with a number of you, we have noticed that there are many systems being utilized relative to feeding, housing and management. Although we are not attempting to select or judge any system as the best one, we have put together the following ideas and information that may be useful, starting with something we are all familiar with, stress.
STRESS – When birds are moved from individual pens to open chicken yards without litter or flooring, in addition to being in a “group” environment, they have gone from a very sedate, calm environment to one where they are exposed to the elements, that is; exposed to “competition” for feed and water with other birds; exposed to the establishment of a “pecking order”, in which they may not be at the top; exposed to possible rodent damage to feathers, especially in the evenings if there is not adequate roost space at an adequate height to keep rodents from eating hanging feathers; exposed to fowl mites, unless the pens cannot be accessed by wild birds; exposed to and involved in consumption of insects, worms and dried feces from the other birds; exposed to the wire in the cages that can act as a destructive agent on wing and tail feathers; exposed to possible limitations of feed and water consumption when feeder and water space is inadequate, along with various other environmental conditions.
If birds are moved from confined conditions to “open” pen conditions with multiple birds in each pen, suddenly, a feed that was nutritionally adequate for an individually confined bird may not be adequate for a bird in these “open” cage conditions. With this in mind, F-R-M has formulated the “Show Gold Trio” of feeds that have optimum levels of nutrients designed for a show bird, regardless of the type of pen in which it is raised or kept. These feeds have elevated amino acid levels, especially those known to be involved in feathering and meat, not fat deposition; a limited and balanced metabolizable energy level to insure that the birds remain athletic and do not deposit unwanted fat; optimum vitamin levels, especially those directly involved in feathering such as biotin and folic acid; along with ingredients of very high amino acid, energy and nutrient biological availability values, to help insure nutrients in the feed can be utilized by the bird. We have also added “specialty” ingredients that have shown some positive results when fed to show birds.
As previously noted, when something is not exactly right with your show chickens, the feed is not always the culprit as commonly thought. Normally, disease, worms, insects, management, pen and confinement conditions, etc., also play a significant part in the problem a grower is experiencing. We at F-R-M suggest you consider the following “common sense” management practices to help insure that you grow the type of show chickens you are capable of growing.
1. Separate birds by breed, age and sex whenever possible. Different birds have different nutritional needs and requirements, and they establish breed pecking orders. This may cause feather damage and inadequate to marginal feed intake for the birds at the bottom of the pecking order. Adequate feeder space will help inhibit the latter.
2. Supply adequate feeder and drinker space. A feeder should allow for all birds in the pen to eat at one time. The drinker space is also critical, especially during summer months and should allow each bird ready access to fresh-clean water. Elevate the drinkers and waterers above the ground as the birds grow to minimize contamination of the feed and water.
3. Monitor weekly feed consumption, by pen, and weekly feed and water consumption during the hot summer months. Insure that clean, fresh water is always available. If these numbers vary significantly from the norm, investigate the cause of the variation.
4. Add enough roosts for each bird in the pen to be elevated during the evening hours in order to minimize feather damage that might be incurred from rodent activity. Insure that roosts are high enough to allow the longest feathers to be at least a foot from the floor.
5. Provide a vegetation-free 18 inch zone around the pens to inhibit rodent movement into the pens. Place baited rodent traps in strategic locations around the pens. Check the traps regularly.
6. Inspect the birds for lice and mite infestation on a weekly basis.
7. If there appears to be a disease outbreak or bird inefficiency, add an iodophore (containing 1.75% iodine) to the drinking water at recommended levels. Iodine has been added to the feed; however, adding iodine to the water during disease outbreaks can significantly diminish the magnitude of the disease.
8. When birds enter their second juvenile molt at between 7 to 12 weeks, confine the “best” birds to “lined” pens in order to minimize feather damage caused by the feathers being rubbed against the chicken wire or other wire. A plastic mesh material similar to that used to control water erosion on highways may be used. Line the entire pen. If there is concern about air flow, cut it to a height of 12 to 15 inches and/or cut “U” shaped holes in the mesh to allow for air movement.
We understand the hard work each of you put into growing and showing your birds. It is a shame when something you cannot control affects the quality of these animals. Many of you have expressed a desire to have access to a group of feeds that will carry your birds from baby chicks, through the two juvenile molts, onto the showroom floor and then allow you to hold these birds for breeding or other purposes. Although no individual or company can guarantee success, we know that we have used the latest nutritional knowledge to formulate our “Trio” Line of Show Gold Feeds. Rather than switching between different feeds within a company, blending various feeds from different companies, adding a “magic” ingredient to the feeds, or any number of other “home” remedies and solutions that may actually cause more problems than provide improvement, feed the new F-R-M Show Gold Trio Line through an entire life cycle of your birds. Although nothing is or can be guaranteed, we firmly believe that you will be pleased with the results.
Thank you for your interest!
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Flint River Mills, Inc.
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