Learning on giving proper feed to our chickens is a long process. Like us humas, we could not also provide the best diet since then. It is only now that we could formulate the best meal.
For our chickens, here is the take on feeds courtesy of the Daily Nation.
DIFFERENT NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
One farmer who had been buying a compounded formulation from an agrovet was taken aback when I told him that for Kienyeji chickens, there is no such thing as ‘Kienyeji mash’ that serves chicks, growers and layers.
You see, chicks, growers and layers, whether of exotic breed or Kienyeji have different nutritional requirements in terms of energy, proteins and minerals.
‘Kienyeji mash’ is one compounded feed formulation for the three different stages of growth.
Interestingly, some commercial feed companies are now formulating the mash for the chickens.
To know what makes feeds for broilers fundamentally different from other chickens, I consulted Dr Obukosia.
“Young broilers have a high protein requirement for development of muscles, feathers and other body organs, but as they grow, their energy needs for fattening up increase, while their protein requirements decrease,” he started.
“As a result, they require high protein content of between 22 and 24 per cent in their starter rations (1-4 weeks) than in the grower and finisher rations. Chick mash (1-8 weeks) for layers and Kienyeji, on the other hand, require a CP of 18-20 per cent.
The broilers require more protein compared to layers and Kienyeji chicks because they mature at six to eight weeks.”
Protein requirements in birds is expressed as Crude Protein (CP) and connotes the total protein, including nitrogen from both protein and non-protein sources.
Another thing he told me was that feed formulations for broiler starter (1-4 weeks) should use whole maize for energy and soya cake and fishmeal for protein.
“Although whole maize is more expensive and contains less protein that other cereal by-products like maize germ, it is preferred for making broiler starter because of its high energy value and lower fiber content.”
TEST AND COMPARE FEED RATIONS FIRST
From my experience, if I use whole maize, soya and fishmeal to formulate a 50kg bag of broiler starter mash, it costs me about Sh2,674 and considering a 50kg bag of commercial starter mash retails at Sh3,190, I save Sh516 per bag (16 per cent).
Now, for broiler finisher, the savings are as high as 50 per cent. In my case, a kilo of maize retails at Sh34, while that of soya and fishmeal (omena) retail at Sh75 and Sh107 respectively.
Here is why the scale of production matters when it comes to savings. A farmer making 10 tonnes of starter mash at ago saves Sh103,200 compared to one making a bag (Sh516).
The savings on transport are also higher when materials are transported in bulk. Another thing is that before you start formulating your own feeds, be clear whether the objective is to reduce costs or control quality.
In my experience, and using the right technique, one can formulate feeds for 10,000 birds by mixing on the floor or with the aid of a drum-mixer. But this may require hiring a part-time worker to specifically formulate the feeds.
When starting to formulate your own feeds, test on a few birds for some few weeks and compare with a commercial ration to see the performance.
Poor outcomes can result from bad quality of raw materials, poor mixing or wrong choice of raw materials.
For me, feed formulation has been a moving target, subject to experimentation and constant learning and the results have been good.