Booklet . No. 67
Animal Husbandry: Poultry: PLS- 4
II. Digestion and Metabolism
III. Nutrients in Feed
IV. Feed Ingredients
V. Nutrient Requirements and Allowances
VI. Toxic Substances in Feed
VII. Feeding Various Classes of Chicken
VIII. Feeding Management
IX. Feeding under Stress Condition
Feeding forms one of the most important aspects of poultry farming. There are many
dangerous poultry diseases which are the direct outcome of faulty methods of poultry feeding.
Balanced feeding not only keeps the birds immune to various diseases but also enhances their
productivity. Therefore, to make poultry farming a lucrative venture, proper understanding of
poultry feeding is essential.
Dr. K.T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental Education
Profitability in poultry farming normally depends on three important factors namely, (i) a
good breed, (ii) a balanced diet and (iii) an efficient management Feed represents about 70% of
the tota1 cost of egg production and 55% of the cost of broiler production. Therefore, efficiency
in feeding is one of the key factors for successful poultry production.
With the change over from the free-range system of poultry i keeping to the confined
system or even semi-range system, birds have to be provided with all the nutrients through the
feed. The knowledge of the science of nutrition is essential for the poultry farmers, whether they
themselves prepare feeds for their own flock or buy ready-made feed mixture, to attain the
objectives of producing well-balanced high quality feed that promotes maximum response at the
least cost without competing with the necessities of human dietaries. The basics of anima!
nutrition and computation of ration (i.e. feed formulation) has been described in detail in the
booklets No. 25 on Animal Nutrition and 37 on Computation of Ration, respectively. This booklet
thus is restricted to the poultry nutrients and allowances, their digestion and metabolism. The
following points should be considered while dealing with poultry nutrition.
i. Poultry birds have no lips or teeth, hence require a more concentrate ration.
ii. Their digestive tract is a simple stomach which is comparatively short, and digestion is quite
rapid. It takes about two and half to four hours for the feed to go from mouth to cloaca in the
laying hen and 10 hours in a non- laying hen. Therefore, the nutritive requirements of poultry are
iii. Unlike ruminants, where microorganisms synthesize a sizeable portion of essential amino-
acids, vitamin B complex, vitamin K in the stomach, the poultry completely depends upon the
dietary source for all the essential amino- acids, vitamin B complex, etc.
iv. Poultry birda are fed collectively rather than individually.
v. Due to a higher rate of metabolism, poultry requires a more exact ration.
II. Digestion and Metabolism
Digestion is the breaking down of the feedstuff into simple nutrients in the digestive tract
in order to prepare these for absorption. Metabolism means all the changes which nutrients
undergo from the lime they are absorbed into the body until they appear as excretory products.
The knowledge about the manner in which the feedstuff are eaten, digested and utilized is
essential for the proper understanding of practical nutrition.
A. Digestive tract
The digestive tract of the fowl consists of a hollow tube running from mouth to cloaca,
modifying along its length into characteristic organs namely pharynx, oesophagus,
proventriculus. gizzard, duodenum, small intestine, large intestine and cloaca. Opening into the
tube and attached to it are four other organs: the crop. liver, pancreas and the caeca (Fig).
The mouth has a horny beak which is prehensile (capable of grasping). The tongue aids
in positioning and moves the food towards the throat for swallowing. The birds have a
reasonably good sense of taste with the taste buds being located in several areas of the mouth
and beneath the tongue.
It is a distendable tube and its role is to pass the food meterial from the mouth to the
stomach. The crop serves mainly as a storage organ for food.
Proventriculus is richly supplied with gastric glands and is sometimes referred to as the
true stomach. Its storage capacity is small and docs not retain the food for long, instead leads
the food into the gizzard or muscular stomach.
The gizzard is composed of two thick muscles opposite to each other, which help in the
break down of the coarse feed or whole grain to the state of fine particles. The process of
grinding whole grain is aided by the presence of insoluble grit or particles of gravels.
From the gizzard the food passes into the V-shaped loop known ! as duodenum which
encloses pancreas. Pancreatic and bile ducts open into the gut at the junction of the deodenum
and the small intestine.
6. Small intestine
The small intestine is five to six times the length of the bird and is structurally adapted for
absorption. The inner layer of the intestine is lined with small finger like projections called villi.
Each villus has a lymph capillary and a close network of food capillaries. Most of the chemical
digestion as well as absorption, or the transfer i of nutrients from the gut into the blood and
lymph systems, takes place here.
7. Large intestine
Large intestine is an enlargement of the small intestine which extends from the point of
caecal openings to the cloaca or rectum. It is relatively short and straight compared to small
intestine. There is not much digestive action in the large intestine, but it acts as a storage site
for food residues and a place for water resorption into the blood.
Caeca are the two blind-ended tubes. They originate from the meeting point of the small
and large intestines. They have a role in the digestion of cellulose and they are particularly well
developed in goose which is an excellent forager. There is also some synthesis of vitamin B-
complex and perhaps vitamin K in the caeca. The role of caeca in the domestic fowl is limited
and this species utilizes cellulose very poorly.
Cloaca is the common receptacle of the genital, digestive and urinary system and serves
the triple purpose of excreting faeces, urine and eggs or seminal fluid.
The three lobes of the pancreas lie between the curve of the duodenum. Secretary ducts
from the pancreas open into the distal end of the duodenal loop adjacent to the opening of the
11. Gall bladder and bile ducts
The bile duct is present on the left lobe of the liver. They open into the duodenum along
with the pancreatic ducts. Bile is pushed into the duodenum due to the vigorous contractions of
B. Process or digestion
Fowls have a high metabolic rate. Thus it necessitates a more or less continuous supply
of food to the digestive tract During dark hours when the birds are not eating, stored food in the
crop is used for this purpose.
The rate of passage of feed through the alimentary canal depends to a large extent, on
the feed intake which is determined by the environmental temperature, physiological state of
birds, water intake and the physical and chemical nature of the diet. A single meal especially in
the mash form passes through the canal faster than the ungrounded hard grains.
The breaking down process of feed nutrients (i.e. digestion) includes the following three
Mechanical activities are the grinding of the larger particles of food by the action of
gizzard and the muscular contraction of the alimentary canal.
The main chemical action is brought about the enzymes secreted by the bird in various
digestive juices. These secretions include:
a. Saliva -secreted by the salivary glands in the mouth.
b. Mucus -secreted by the mucus glands of the crop, which contains no enzymes.
c. Gastric juice -secreted by the proventriculus; hydrochloric acid (HCI) contains the
d. Pancreatic juice -secreted by the pancreas. It is slightly acidic in nature and contains
amylase, lipase and trypsin.
e. Bile -secreted by the liver. It contains no enzyme, but it aids in emulsifying fats and thus
facilitates the action of lipase.
f. f. Intestinal juice -secreted by the small intestine. It is a source of amylase, trypsin,
maltase and sucrase.
Microbial digestion of food is also an enzymatic digestion but these anzymes are not
secreted by the animals. These enzymes are secreted by the bacteria and microorganisms. The
caeca in the birds harbour a wide range of microbial population which may aid in the digestion
of the crude fibre of the diet, but as stated earlier, caeca playa limited role in the domestic fowl.
However, in the case of geese, they are well developed to the level that geese can digest scales
In brief, the whole process of digestion consists of softening the food in the crop, mixing
with digestive enzymes in the glandular stomach, grinding in the gizzard, breaking into simpler
units and absorption in the intestine and finally excretion of undigested food.
C. Digestion, absorption and assimilation
The feed is picked up by the beak and swallowed without mastication. In the mouth, the
feed gets mixed up with saliva which has enzymes that act on the carbohydrates present in the
food. Thus 3 to 5% of all the starch that is eaten, will be broken down to maltose by the time
food is swallowed. The food then reaches the crop by peristaltic action, where it gets mixed with
the secretions from the crop wall and then descends to the gizzard in small quantities at a time.
Meanwhile, the proteins of the feed are acted upon by ~ various gastric juices and
enzymes are broken down into simpler proteins and finally to amino-acids as it reaches the
small intestine. In the gizzard, the feed is well ground and mixed with digestive juices secreted
by the glandular stomach.
Insoluble grit, picked along with the grains are held in the gizzard and aids in the
grinding process, especially when whole grain and fibrous grasses are eaten. The feed then
enters the duodenum where further digestion takes place due to the action of bile from the gall
bladder and enzymes from the pancreas. Here the fat present in the feed is first emulsified or
broken down into smaller droplets. Most of the feed is thus acted upon and reduced to simpler
substances by the time they reach the small intestine.
The digested nutrients get absorbed through the small intestinal wall and pass on to the
blood stream. The blood carrying the digested material passes through the liver on its way to
the heart which pumps it to the various parts of the body. The liver removes at least a part of the
toxic substances that may have found their way into the blood stream. It also transforms some
of the digested carbohydrates into glycogen for energy purpose in the muscles of the body.
Some fat is also stored in the liver. A part of the digested feed is built into new tissues for growth
and repair, some get converted into eggs and others remain stored as glycogen and fat, to meet
the heat and energy requirement.
III. Nutrients in Feed
The feed contains substances known as nutrients, and for obtaining these nutrients to
perform various functions in the body, the food is consumed daily. This has been discussed in a
separate booklet No. 25 on Animal Nutrition. There are more than 40 such nutrients required by
the poultry. These are arranged into six groups namely (a) water, (b) carbohydrates, (c) fats, (d)
proteins, (e) vitamins and (f) minerals. The carbohydrates and fats can be further combined into
the group "energy feed", as their main function is to supply energy for the maintenance, growth
and production of the poultry.
1. Energy (Carbohydrates and rats)
Energy is not a nutrient by itself, but a property that a nutrient possesses. Carbohydrates
and fats are the main nutrient sources of energy, required by the birds. The dietary energy
consumed by a bird, can be used to supply energy for various body function or be converted
into fat stored in the body or given out in some form of a product. Energy consumed in excess ?f
that. which is required for normal growth and activity of the bird is stored mainly as body fat.
Excess energy once ingested cannot be excreted from the body. For most efficient nutrition, the
diet should contain energy in definite proportion to other nutrients needed to produce the
desired growth, production of eggs or deposition of carcass fat.
The fowl obtains the required energy from the ingested feed. But, whole of the energy
present in the feed is not available to them. It has been estimated that the net energy value of
the diet of the chicken ranges between 70% to 90% of the total energy.
Carbohydrates can be completely replaced in the diet of chicken by fats, but the growth
rate declines significantly. However, fat utilization is very efficient in chicken and growing
chicken may be fed with diets having 12% fat without any effect on the digestibility of the food.
Of all the fatty acids, only linoleic acid is an essential nutrient in the diet of a chicken. Others are
important mainly as the concentrated source of energy, as materials which decrease dustiness
of the feed, lubricate the passage of diets and increase the palatability of certain feeds.
Of the total energy requirement, the energy required for maintenance makes a large
proportion. For the body, meeting the energy requirement for maintenance takes precedence
over the energy requirement for growth or egg production. For a newly hatched chick, weighing
approximately 40 g, energy requirement for maintenance is about 8 kcal metabolizable energy
per day. The energy required for maintenance has to be met before a young chick can utilize
any dietary energy for growth. The feed consumption in the growing birds is inversely related to
the dietary energy level. Birds eat more of a low energy diet than of a high energy diet, and in
this way attempt to restrict their consumption at normal level. But in general, rations with higher
energy content will permit fat birds, while diets having lower energy levels will produce lean
chicken. During the initial phase of growth, there is little deposition of fat in the chicken, body.
The carcass of broilers contains only 4% of fat during the starter phase. Chicken of the high
laying, light weight strain, kept under moderate environmental temperature require 2700 kcal/kg
to 3100 kcal/kg of energy levels in the ration corresponding to the moderately not conditions to
moderately cool conditions.
When energy requirements for maintenance are not met through dietary sources, body
energy stores are consumed up in the following order:
a. the small amount of glycogen normally stored in the liver and muscle tissues is used up;
b. body stores of fat are depleted;
c. ultimately the protein tissues are also exhausted to maintain the glucose level of blood and to
permit other vital body processes.
Proteins are the major constituents of the soft tissue in the animal body. For growth, egg
production, and repair of wear and tear of tissues, a continuous and adequate supply of protein
in the diet of the chicken is essential. All the proteins are made up of amino-acids. However, the
nature and number of amino-acids comprising various animal and plant proteins are different
Plant proteins vary from each other and also from animal protein.
Chicken cannot synthesize many of the amino-acids present in their body proteins.
These amino-acids must be provided through dietary proteins. They are: arginine, lysine,
histidine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and phenylalanine.
Glycine is essential in the diet of the growing chicken but not in the diet of the adult birds.
High quality dietary protein should supply all the required essential amino-acids in the
same proportion in which they occur in the body protein. Also the dietary protein should have a
high digestibility. Diets containing such high quality proteins can fulfill the protein needs of the
body with a minimum intake. In case, the dietary proteins are deficient in one or more of the
essential amino- acids, they will not be able to provide proper protein nutrition even with
The amino-acids which are not used for the synthesis of protein by the body do not go
waste as food, since they are converted to an energy source. Chicken body contains various
kinds of proteins which differ in their amino-acid composition. Therefore, the usefulness of the
dietary protein depends, to some extent, on the purpose for which it is fed. Fewer amino-acids
are required for maintenance of the body than for the growth. Hence, a protein may be
adequate in amino-acid content for meeting the maintenance needs of adults, yet it may fail to
Certain proteins of plant origin are harmful to chicken. For example, the proteins of raw
soyabean and various pulses contain certain deleterious substances which cause growth
depression in the young chicken. However, these proteins are rendered harmless when
soybean meal or pulses are given after proper heat treatment.
The feed consumption of the layer is influenced by the following factors:
a. energy content of the diet (ME);
b. temperature in the layer house;
c. rate of egg production;
d. feeding space per hen and infection of infestation with parasites; and
e. body weight and strain of layer.
A constant calorie : protein ratio (C:P ratio) of 173-180: 1 needs to be maintained in the
diet of layers in order to ensure that the daily protein intake of birds does not suffer due to
imbalance in the diet.
Diets having wider C:P ratios permit higher fat deposition on the carcass and improve its
finish and can be advantageously applied to the finisher broilers. When lean meat is desired, the
C:P ratio can be reduced.
The recommended C:P ratio for the diet of various classes of chicken are given below.
Starter chicken (0-8 weeks) 135:1
Grower chicken (8-20 weeks) 140:1
Layer (20 weeks onward)170- 180:1
Starter broiler chicken (0-6 weeks) 135:1
Finisher broiler (6 weeks onward) 155:1
Vitamins are organic substances required by the body in minute amounts for normal
growth, health and production. Chicken depend on food sources for their requirement of
vitamins. They are also more susceptible to vitamin deficiencies because :
a. the microorganisms in caeca of these birds do not provide any vitamin synthesis, instead
compete with the host for dietary vitamins;
b. due to higher metabolic rate, chicken have a higher need for vitamins which act as the "spark
plugs" of the vital metabolic reactions in the body; and
c. intensively kept chicken undergo many stresses which increase their vitamin requirements.
The following vitamins should necessarily be included in the diet of all birds.
Vitamin A , Vitamin D3 (a type of vitamin D), Thiamine Riboflavin, Pentothenic acid,
Nicotinic acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12, Alpha-tocopherol, Choline
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is not considered as essential in the diet of the chicken
because, under normal conditions the body synthesis of this vitamin is adequate to meet their
requirements. However, under certain stress conditions, chicken are not able to synthesize
optimum amounts and in such circumstances ascorbic acid supplemented diets prove
beneficial. Addition of vitamin C in the diets is also reported to increase the hatchability of eggs
during summer months.
In addition to the elements like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and Sulphur which
comprises the organic chemical compounds of the body, chicken need at least thirteen minerals
for their proper nourishment and production. These minerals are : calcium, phosphorus, sodium,
potassium, chlorine, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, copper, molybdenum, selenium and
iodine. There is increasing evidence that two more elements viz. flourine and chromium also
perform essential functions in the body.
Calcium and phosphorus are found in the body mostly in combination with each other
and constitute over 70% of the body ash. Deficiency of either in the diet limits the nutritive value
of the other one. Growing chicken utilize most of their dietary calcium for the formation of the
skeletal system. In the layers, it is utilized for the formation of egg shells, Similarly, phosphorus
is important in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Both calcium and phosphate , salts
play an important part in the maintenance of acid -base balance. For optimum results, calcium
and phosphorus contents in the diet of growing chicken should be in the ratio of 1-2.2 : 1.
Dietary calcium and phosphorus in the ratio of 2.5: 1 may be tolerated by the chicken but a ratio
of 3.3: 1 is decidedly injurious. It produces leg abnormalities and rickets.
In practical feeding, sodium, potassium and chlorine are not I of much importance
because their need is already met in their diets. However, these minerals are required regularly
in the diets because even any excess consumption of it is immediately excreted and, therefore,
body does not store them.
About 70% of the body magnesium is present in the skeletal system. Most of the
magnesium found in the eggs is present in the shell portion. Embryo utilises 1 to 1.8 mg of the
magnesium present in the cell for its development during the incubation. Chicks started on a
magnesium -free diet die within a few days. Feeding of low magnesium diets to-laying hens
results in rapid decrease in egg production and in growing chicks, the growth rate decreases.
Manganese content of the body is very little, but it performs many specific essential
functions in the body. Common poultry feeds are not very rich in manganese therefore, it is of
practical importance in their feeding. Dietary manganese is poorly absorbed in chicken. Thus,
more manganese is required to be included in the chicken diets than the requirement. Rice
bran, maize fibre and Lucern meal are considerable sources of manganese, but even these
have to be supplemented. Manganese salts are not very expensive and poultry diets can be
supplemented with manganese in an inorganic form.
The other elements are required in traces and need not be \ supplemented in the diet,
except in case of iodine where practical diets for chicken generally need to be supplemented
with some iodine salt because the common natural feeds may not contain more than 0.3 ppm
(parts per million) iodine.
Animals can tolerate a loss of 98% body fat and 50% body protein but not more than
20% body water. A young growing chicken will consume water at about 20% of its body weight.
Hens will consume about 14% of their body weight at 20'C and double that amount at 35'C. Also
water constitutes about 85% of body weight of the chicks and 55-60% in the adult fowls. Egg
constitutes 60% of its weight as water. Therefore, if the birds are denied water or given only a
limited quantity it has an adverse effect on their growth rate as well as production. Prolonged
deficiency of water may even lead to death. It has been experimented that if 11 day old and 18
day old chicks are not given water for 24 hours and 48 hours respectively and then suddenly
supplied with sufficient water, the chicks tend to die. This is called water intoxication as it has an
adverse effect on the metabolic functioning of the birds.
Water is an essential nutrient, therefore, supply of good quality water is indispensable for
better growth and reproductive performance in poultry. The portable water contains many
substances in solution and in suspension, some of which are mainly responsible for causing a
number of problems in poultry. It may increase the morbidity, i mortality, service disease and
disease conditions like Coccidiosis, Salmonellosis, Enteritis, Ascitis, Nephrosis, Septicaemia
and Hepatitis. These conditions may ultimately lead to death. Thus, there is a need for complete
examination of water before it is supplied to the birds. There are several methods of making
water suitable for poultry drinking including chlorination, dechlorination, retention and filtration.
IV. Feed Ingredients
Several feed ingredients are mixed together to provide nutrients in the diet, at levels
required by the birds. Some feed ingredients are used for providing only a particular nutrient.
while others provide more than one nutrient. Depending on the main function for which they are
included in the diet, the feed ingredients are classified as energy souces, protein sources,
mineral sources and vilarnin sources.
A. Energy feed
Cereal grains, agro-industrial and forest by-products are chiefly used as energy sources.
The energy sources are used at a level of 50-70% of the diet. Incidentally, they contribute to a
substantial amount of total protein requirement of poultry. Fats, both vegetable and animal
origin, are the concentrated forms of energy. Fat utilization is very efficient in chicken and can
be included in the growers ration up to a level of 12 per cent.
It is one of the most abundantly used grain in poultry rations due to its palatability and
high energy content. It is poor in protein and mineral content The yellow maize variety is a rich
source of carotene and manthophyll, a pigment deposited in broilers and egg yolk. Maize
contains good amount of starch, but less fibre, some proteins and plenty of vitamin A. It can be
mixed up to 60% poultry ration depending upon the category of birds to be fed, availability and
the prevailing cost Maize is good for fattening broilers, when mixed with wheat It should not be
exclusively fed to layers, as fattening will tend to lower the egg production.
It is less palatable and contains more fibre and low energy as compared to maize. Birds
not accustomed to barley do not consume it readily, as it takes time for them to get adjusted to it
However, it can be included in the diet at the level of 20-40 per cent
Oats have high fibre, lower energy content in comparison to maize and wheat. Oats can
be used for pullet developer feeds (low energy feeds) and broiler breeder replacement, up to a
level of 10 - 20% in the diet. Inclusion of oats in the ration, reduces the incidence of
cannibalism, i.e., (the habit of packing at each other) feather picking and hock disorders,
because of the fibre and manganese content in them.
Sorghum is higher in protein content as compared to maize, but lower in energy content.
Light yellow coloured sorghum grains are preferred in case of domestic fowl. It can be included
at a level ! of 25-40% in the diet.
5. Other millets
Coarse grains like pearl millet and ragi are commonly fed to the poultry alone or mixed
with other grains, as it is usually available in plenty at a comparatively cheaper price. It may
contain traces of hydrocyanic acid which may become toxic depending upon the individual
susceptibility. It is not, therefore, advisable to use them in poultry feed on a mass scale, though
it can be fed to the village birds by scattering them on the ground, where the birds have a
chance to pick up many other grains and greens which may dilute or even neutralize the toxic
action of millet, if any.
6. Wheat and wheat bran
Wheat has a better feeding value as compared to barley and oats. It is highly palatable,
digestible and a good source of B-complcx vitamins. Broken wheat, a by-product of wheat flour
mill can be used, even up to a level of 50% in the diet of the broilers but for the layers about 10-
15% mixed with other grains will be beneficial.
Wheat bran is the coarse outer covering of the wheat kernel. It is palatable but bulky. It
is an excellent source of manganese, iron and a good source of riboflavin, pantothenic acid,
choline, niacin and thiamine.
7. Rice and its by-products
It is a highly palatable and digestible grain. It is not used widely due to its high cost and
usage for mankind. Broken rice, if available at economic cost can be used. Rice can be fed raw
but not as boiled plain rice. Boiled rice can be mixed with other feeds and fed more as starch
feed to fill the crop.
Rice bran is the pericarp of the grain and rice polish is the finely powdered material
obtained in polishing rice after the hulls the bran have been removed. Good quality rice
polishing is rich in energy. These are excellent sources for many vitamins particularly, thaiamine
and niacin. The rice bran rice polish have a high fat content and thus develop rancidity during
It is obtained from the tubers of tapioca. The meal is a good source of energy. Certain
varieties contain some toxic substances which can be removed during the processing of tapioca
by sun- drying or heating. It can be safely included up to a level of 10-20% in the diet
9. Hominy feed
Il is the by-product produced during the dry milling of maize I for human consumption.
This consists of bran, grain and a bit of starchy part of kernels. Though it resembles maize in
composition, its use is limited due to high fibre content and lower energy value. Its maximum
level of inclusion in the chicken diet is 10 per cent.
It is a by-product obtained from the processing of sal fruit for oil, and is available in large
quanti lies. The composition of the meal resembles the cereals and is a good source of energy.
Unfortunately, its use is limited to only 3-5% in the poultry diet because of high tannin content
and certain other factors in the meal.
11. Dried poultry wastes
Uncontaminated caged layer droppings can be collected which can serve as a feed
ingredient for the poultry, though it has not become popular. The composition varies depending
on the type of feed fed, but it is generally high in calcium and phosphorus, containing about 10-
12% ingredient, il can be included in the diet upto 10% without any detrimental effect.
It is a by-product in the manufacture of sugar. It may be used to replace cereal grains
upto 5-10% of the ration. Higher percentage usually produces loose excreta because of high
potassium content A certain minimum amount of molasses is desirable in the ration because it
improves the palatability of diet and reduces the dustiness of feed. It is rich in vitamin B-
13. Prosomillet (common millet)
Recent investigations have revealed that 50% and 100% replacement of maize is
possible in a chick ration by prosomillet grains. First, it reduces the cost of feeding in the starter
ration and secondly the body weight gain in the chicken is faster than when fed solely on a
maize included-diet Thc fibre content is higher in prosomillct than in millet
B. Protein feed
Protein sources are used mainly for the supply of protein. They also contribute to one-
third of the total energy requirement Animal protein sources are superior in terms of protein
quality to vegetable proteins. They contain higher levels of limiting amino-acids (lysine and
methionine) than vegetable protein sources and are employed to make up the amino-acids of
the diet, balanced.
1. Groundnut cake
It is one of the richest vegetable protein concentrates available, highly palatable and
used extensively in the rations. It is low in certain essential amino-acids like lysine, methionine
and cystine but high in others like arginine. It can be used in the diet upto a level i' of 40 per
cent. The deoiled groundnut meal is slightly rich in protein but low in energy, and can be used
upto 20% in the poultry diet.
It has a high protein content but is deficient in lysine. It is used to a limited extent (upto
5%) due to the presence of free gossypol, which is responsible for causing depression in the
growth of young chicken and produce discoloured yolks in stored eggs. It has to be de-
gossypolized before use.
3. Sasame cake (gingelly or til)
It is similar to ground nut meal in composition. The combination II of sesame meal with
groundnut meal forms a good protein ii supplement.
4. Soybean cake
It is an excellent source of vegetable protein, rich in lysine 1but deficient in methionine. It
can be used to the extent of 40% in the poultry diet It has an anti-nutritional factor known as
antitrypsin in the meal.
5. Sunnower cake
The protein content of sunflower meal is slightly lower than that of groundnut meal, but
the protein is of good quality. It is a good source of arginine and methionine than soybean, but is
poor in other essential amino-acids.
6. -Coconut cake
It contains about 20% protein. It can be fed upto a level of 10% for chicks and 15 for
layers. The protein of coconut meal is poorly digested. Though it is non-toxic, it is not a highly
desirable feed stuff for poultry.
7. Mustard cake
Though available in plenty, it is used in a limited quantity (5- 10% of diet). The protein is
deficient in lysine. It has a strong taste and aroma and contains toxic glycosides.
8. Guar cake
The meal is rich in protein but its use is limited because of residual guar gum and
presence of certain toxic substances,
The linseed meal contains small quantity of essential fatty- acids. It also acts as a mild
laxative, The meal contains certain toxic substances and cannot be used more than 2-3%
unless processed. It can rendered non-toxic by boiling and can be incorporated in the diet upto
a level of 20 per cent,
10. Blood meal
It is an animal protein source with high lysine content. The amino-acid composition of
blood meal is imbalanced, unpalatable and their digestibility is poor. Because of these reasons,
blood meal is used at a low level i.e. 1-2 per cent.
11. Fish meal
It is manufactured from clean dried and ground tissues of undecomposed whole fish,
with or without extraction of part of the oil, and contains not more than.3% common salt Fish
meal is the is the best of source of high quality protein. It is highest in all the required amino-
acids and is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and certain vitamins. It can be used at a
maximum level of 10 per cent.
12. Meat meal
The meat is a good source of high quality protein and important source of calcium and
phosporus. It can constitute 5-10% of the diet.
The body of the chicken and the egg excluding the shell contain nearly 4% and 1 % of
mineral matter respectively. Usually the grain and vegetable protein ingredients are relatively
poor in mineral contents when compared with those of animal protein feed stuffs. The common
mineral supplements in poultry feed are as follows:
i. Limestone, ii. Bonemeal, iii. Oyster shell, iv. Common salt, v. Dicalcium phosphate,
vi. Manganese sulphate, vii. Potassium iodide, viii. Superphosphate.
An all mash feed should consist of 0.5% common salt, while the mash portion of a mash-
cum-grained should contain 1 % salt. A simple, cheap, and satisfactory mineral mixture consists
of the following ingredients.
Bonemeal -40 parts
Oyster shell or
limestone (ground) -40 parts
Common salt -20 parts
Total -100 parts
A more complete and efficient mineral mixture consists of the following ingredients:
Bonemcal -27.97 parts
Oyster shell or
Limestone (ground) -50.00 parts
Salt -20.00 “
Ferrous sulphate -2.00 “
Potassium iodide -0.02 “
Copper sulphate -0.01 “
Total -100.00 “
These ingredients can be bought by the poultry farmer himself; and mixed at home.
Many commercial mineral mixtures are also available in the market, wherein all necessary
minerals are mixed in standard proportion; and if such mixtures are used, there is no need of
mixing individual minerals separately in the feed.
Leaf-meals either fresh or dehydrated can be employed to provide certain vitamins.
Yeast can be used to provide some of the B-complex group of vitamins. Fish oils provide
vitamin A & D. Now-a-days, the vitamins in pure form are being used to increase; the nutritional
levels of vitamins which may be deficient in diets.
Under ordinary farm conditions, where the poultry have access to green pasture and
direct sunshine, vitamin requirement is easily met. Under other conditions they will have to be
supplemented. Special care must be taken to see that they are supplied in sufficient amounts.
V. Nutrient Requirements and Allowances
The requirements for a given nutrient is the minimum quantity of that nutrient, when all
other nutrients are supplied in adequate quantities, that will maintain normal growth and
reproduction and, at the same time, prevent the development of symptoms of nutritional
The amount of feed eaten by the bird influences their nutrient requirements. Voluntary
feed is dependent on the:
i size of the bird, ii. energy content of the diet; iii. physical form of diet; iv. nutritional adequacy
of diet and v. environmental temperature.
-Size of the bird influences the voluntary feed intake directly.
-Energy content of the diet and feed intake are inversely proportional i.e. on high energy diet.
the feed intake is lower and vice versa. This way birds adjust feed intake to satisfy their energy
-On dusty feeds, the feed intake is lowered. On pellets or crumbles, feed intake is slightly more
than on mash.
-Where a diet is deficient only marginally in a nutrient, the bird tries to overeat the feed, in order
to have adequate intake of the deficient nutrient. However, if the deficiency of the nutrient is
severe, feed intake is lowered and the degree of reduction in feed intake is governed by the '
severity of the deficiency.
-Environmental temperature and feed intake are inversely related.
Within the temperature range of 7 to 35.C, feed intake drops by 1.7% for each I.C rise in
temperature. Above 30.C, the feed intake drops drastically. Egg output usually is not affected
until the environmental temperature reaches 30.C or more.
The dietary allowance of a given nutrient is that quantity of the nutrient that is given to
the animal. Allowances usually exceed the requirements because of the reasons given below.
1. To provide a margin for safety.
2. To avoid nutrient losses during storage.
3. To allow for increased concentration of the ration, especially if added, fat is used in the
4. To allow for variation in the composition of feed ingredients. These vary due to climatic
conditions, variety of plants, fertilizers etc.
5. To allow for the nutrients destroyed in the digestive tract before they can accomplish their
Minerals and vitamins are more prone to destruction. Thus, the dietary allowances
constitute thrice the minimum requirement of vitamins and 20-30% more of the minimum
requirements of minerals.
In India, Indian Bureau of Standards (IS I) laid some specifications on the nutrient
requirements of poultry. These include a margin of safety for certain nutrients. These
specifications are given in Table 1.
Note 1: The energy value may also be declared as productive energy value; 1.6 calories of
metabolizable energy is equal to 1 caloric productive energy.
Note 2: The amount of calcium indicated for laying chicken feed, need not be incorporated as
such, in as much as calcium supplements fed free-<:hoice as pan of ration.
Many studies relating to the requirements of inorganic elements I for poultry, especially
calcium and phosphorus, have been one in I the past 50 years in the western countries, but very
little has been done in India. A subcommittee on mineral requirements for poultry in 1984 has
published its estimates of the mineral requirement levels in the practical diet of the poultry.
These estimations are given in Tables 2 and 3.
Table 1: ISI specifications in diet for chicken
Sl.No Broiler Broiler Chick Growe Layer Breeder
starter finisher (0-8 r (20-80 (20-80
(0-6 (6-9 weeks) (8-20 weeks weeks)
weeks weeks) weeks
(kcal/kg),mini 2,900. 3,000.00 2,700.00 2,700. 2,00.00 2,800.00
mum 00 00
2 Crude protein
% minimum 22.00 17.00 22.00 16.00 18.00 18.00
3 Crude fibre %
maximum 6.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 8.00 8.00
ash % 3.00 3.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00
5 Lysine %
minimum 0.90 0.90 1.00 0.70 0.50 0.50
6 Aminoacids %
minimum 0.75 0.75 0.75 0.50 0.50 0.50
7 Methionine %
minimum 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.25 0.25 0.25
8 Vitamin A, 6,000. 6,000.00 4,000.00 4,000. 8,000.00 8,000.00
IU/kg 00 00
9 Vitamin 600.00 600.00 600.00 600.00 1,200.00 1,200.00
10 Thiamine, 2.00 2.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00
11 Riboflavin, 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 8.00
acid,mg/kg 12.00 12.00 10.00 10.00 15.00 15.00
13 Nicotinic acid,
mg/kg 40.00 40.00 30.00 20.00 20.00 20.00
14 Biotin, mg/kg 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.15 0.15
15 Vitamin B12,
mg/kg 8.00 8.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 30.00
tocopherol, 20.00 20.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 20.00
chloride, 1,400. 1,400.00 1,300.00 - - 1,300.00
18 Linoleic acid
% , minimum 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
19 Salt (as NaCl)
% , maximum 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60
20 Calcium %,
minimum 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 2.75 2.75
%, minimum 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.50
22 Manganese, 60.00 60.00 55.00 55.00 55.00 55.00
23 Iodine, mg/kg 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
24 Copper, 4.00 4.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00
25 Zinc, mg/kg 50.00 50.00 - - - -
26 Moisture %,
maximum 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00
Table 3: Requirement of other minerals for domestic fowls
Sl.No Age and type Calcium
1 a. Pullets
1-2 week old 9.0
3-6 week old 7.0
7-12 week old 6.0 – 6.5*
13-20 week old 5.5 – 6.9*
2 b. Layers
i. light bodied:
Initial 32.5 – 36.0 **
At the end of 37.5 – 45.0 **
ii. Medium bodied:
Initial 31.0- 34.5 **
At the end of 35.5 – 43.0 **
3 c. Broilers
1-3 week old 10.0
4-6 week old 8.0
7-8 week old 7.5
*For light and medium bodied pullets respectively.
**depending on the quantity of eggs laid per day.
Table 3: Requirement of other minerals for domestic fowls.
Sl.No Mineral Pullets Layers broilers
1-6 7-12 13-20 1-3 4-8
weeks weeks weeks weeks weeks
1 Phosphorus 4.00 3.50 3.00 3.00 4.00 3.50
2 Magnesium 0.45 0.30 0.30 0.40 0.45 0.45
3 Sodium 1.20 1.00 1.00 1.30 1.45 1.30
4 Potassium 1.50 1.45 1.30 1.50 2.00 2.00
5 Chloride 1.10 0.90 0.90 1.20 1.35 1.35
From these tables, the poultry farmer can formulate the feed for his chicken. (For
calculations please refer booklet No. 37 on Computation of Ration).
VI. Toxic Substances in Feed
In addition to the beneficial nutrients some feeds contain substances which have a
harmful effect on the bird. Some of these toxic substances have been mentioned along with the
feed ingredients, viz, cyanogenetic glycosides in linseed meal, gossypol in cottonseed meal,
tannins and rancid fat. Other toxic substances include:
1. Fluorine: Some rock phosphates contain fluorine. If these are fed to the poultry, the growth
rote of the chicks is reduced. Laying hens lose weight and egg production is impaired.
2. Phosphorus: Phosphorus as phosphate or phospholipid, is an essential food; but as zinc
phosphide it is a poison and is used in the control of rats.
3. Bacterial toxins: When feed which have been putrefied are fed to the birds, they die either of
ptomaine poisoning or of the effects of bacterial toxin. Most food poisoning, in chicken, is
caused by bacteria like Clostridia, Salmonellae, Shigellea or Staphylococci.
4. Mycotoxins: Food which have been moulded may contain substances which are toxic to
5. Salt: Salt when consumed in large quantities has a ! deleterious effect. But the tolerance of
poultry for salt is, however, remarkably high, provided adequate drinking water is available.
6. Insecticides: These pesticides include mercury and lead pesticides or preparations and
products such as DDT, gamaxene fungicides: and arsenic. Toxicity may occur in many ways
such as :
a. toxic materials when spilled on feedstuff;
b. pesticides when left exposed where the chickens find and eat them;
c. treated seed grains may be used for feed;
d. errors may occur in the intentional addition of drugs.
7. Strychnine: Poultry which eat poison baits containing strychnine die in convulsions. It is
strongly recommended that all poison baits laid down to kill vermin should be so placed that
domestic animals and birds cannot have access to them.
B. Sulpha drugs: Some of these drugs. namely sulpha pyridine, sulphanilamide, neoprontosil,
benzene sulphonamide and soluseptozine, have an adverse effect on the shell texture. This
effect has not been noted with sulphathiazole, sulphaguanidine, sulphadiazine and
9. Weed seeds and berries: Weed seeds should always be removed from grains before the
latter is fed to the stock, since some weed seeds are toxic or infected with fungus and can
cause metabolic disorders. Berries such as those of deadly nightshade can be a cause of high
VII. Feeding Various Classes of Chicken
The nutrient requirements and feeding practices of chicken depend on the purpose for
which the flock is kept. The purpose of a poultry enterprises could be either for egg or meat
production. For satisfactory results in this business, care has to be given to the growing chicken
starting from the first day of their hatching.
Regarding feeding management, now-a-days, the diets to poultry are fed in the form of
mash, pellets or crumbles. Feeding mash is common. However, pellet feeding is gaining
popularity. The size of pellets for poultry ranges from 5/32" or 3/]6". With pellets, the time taken
on feeding is less and the intake of feed with pellets or crumbles contributes to increased feed
A. Layer nutrition
On the basis of the growth rate and the accompanying nutrient requirements for
production and growth, the layer nutrition can be divided into three phases:
1. 0 -8 weeks -chick phase
2. 8 -2Q weeks -grower phase
3. 20 weeks onward -layer.
The first period shows the most rapid growth and therefore, a high protein level (22%) is
needed in the diets. The second period, the growth is less rapid and requires only 16% protein
in the diets. The layers require more protein for egg production, therefore, their diet should
essentially consist of 18% protein. Each of these periods are dealt with separately here.
1. Feeding chicks (0 -8 weeks)
A high protein level of 22% is required for starter chicks as I their growth is the fastest at
this stage. The protein levels required I in the diets depend not only on the growth rate of
chicken, but also ; on the amino-acid composition of the dietary protein. The amino-acid
requirement for chicks (starters) is given in Table 2. Similarly, 2391 -2796 kcal per kg of the diet
could satisfy the metabolizable energy needs of starter chickens for optimum performance.
Growing chicks have a large capacity to convert dietary carbohydrates into body fat and the
practical diets for starters need not contain any added oil or fat.
Chicks are not able to digest crude fiber. It is generally felt that chick diets should not
contain higher levels of fibre because it decreases the availability of various nutrients, specially
of energy from the diets. But crude fibre-free diets are not advisable since the bulk it provides
helps in the movement of the gut and is necessary to avoid constipation. Also, cannibalism and
feather picking occur in flocks, fed fibre-free diets. It is considered that chicken diets should
contain 3 -4% crude fibre upto maximum level of 7 per cent
Some of the chick starter diets are given below.
i. Yellow maize -10% ii. Yellow maize -16%
Rice polish -40% Rice porish -40%
(10% oil) -10% (10% oil) -10%
Wheat bran -10% Wheat bran -10%
Maize grit -10% Groundnut cake -20%
Groundnut cake -10% Fish meal/ meat meal) -10%
Maize steep fluid -10% Mineral mixture -4%
Fish meal (or meat meal) -5% Silk worm pupae meal -4%
Mineral mixture -1% ---------
iii. Maize -32% iv. Maize -15%
Sorghum -11% Bajra -37%
Rice polish -17% Rice polish -205
Salseed meal (deoiled) 5% Fish meal -7%
Groundnut cake -14%
Groundnut cake -11% Silk worm meal -4%
Sunflower cake -11% Mineral mixture -1 %
Mineral mixture -3% ---------
During the embryonic development, only half of the energy present in the egg is utilized.
The remaining half is utilized after the hatching of chicks within 6072 hours. Chicken, normally
consume much of feed during the first few days, but it is advisable I to provide feed to them as
soon as possible after hatching.
‘All mash' system of feeding is considered as the best feeding system for the starters.
Here, all the ingredients are ground to almost uniform particle size and then mixed together in
the form of a mash.
2. Feeding grower (8.20 weeks)
Nutrition of growers is critical as il influences their age at sexual maturity, size of the
pullet eggs and overall performance of the bird. The daily nutrient requirement for the growers is
Table 1. Some of the grower diets are given below:
i. Maize -27% ii. Sorghum -20%
Rice polish -40% Bajra -33%
Wheat bran -15% Rice Polish -275
Sunflower cake -5% Molasses -5%
Mustard oil cake(deoiled) -5% Groundnut cake -7%
Fish meal -6% Meat meal -.5%
Mineral mixture -2% Mineral mix. -3%
iii. Maize -52% iv. Yellow maize -20%
Rice bran -20% Rice Polish -40%
Wheat bran -10% Wheat bran -10%
Groundnut cake -10% Maize gluten -6%
Fish meal -6% Groundnut -10%
Mineral mixture -2% cake Mineral mixture -4%
------------------------ Fish meal -10%
Sometimes, the sexual maturity of growing pullets is retarded in order to produce larger
eggs even during the initial phase of the production or to obtain more eggs during a particular
This objective can be attained either by restricting calorie intake or by feeding a diet
deficient in one or more essential amino-acids.
Feed restriction is started from the beginning of the 8th week and continued till 23rd
week. Generally, the total feed allowed per bird per day is restricted to about 70% of the total
diet. Alternately, a diet containing only 10-11 % protein is used. It is reported that low protein
diet also produces slightly more delay in the sexual maturity than quantitative feed restriction.
3. Layer nutrition (20 week onwards)
It is advisable to start the feeding of layer diets about 2 weeks before the expected onset
of laying, so that birds have enough time to store calcium, to be used for the subsequent egg
The amount of feed consumed by a layer is dependent upon the metabolizable energy
(ME) content of the diet, the size of the bird, the number of eggs laid, the size of the eggs,
increase in weight of the bird and variations in the maintenance requirements, as influenced by
activity, temperature, etc.
A full grown pullet laying at the rate of 75% uses nearly two- thirds of her feed simply for
maintenance. The average growth rate and feed requirements for pullets is given in Table 4.
Table 4: Average growth rate and feed requirements for pullets
Sl.No Weeks Average Cumulative
mass of feed per
1 4 275 650 g
2 8 590 1900 g
3 12 850 3400 g
4 16 1100 5000 g
5 20 1300 7000 g
6 24 1550 10.0 kg
7 30 1600 14.5 kg
8 40 1700 22.0 kg
9 60 1700 73.0 kg
10 80 1700 52.0 kg
Some practical layer rations arc as follows:
i. Maize -20% ii. Maize -20%
Rice polish -40% Rice polish -30%
Maize gluten meal -10% Deoilcd Rice polish -20%
Groundnut cake -5% Groundnut cake -20%
Silk worm pupae meal- 5% Fish meal -5%
Molasses -15% Mineral mixture -5%
Mineral mixture -5% vitamin
iii. Maize -55% iv. Maize -21%
Rice bran -II % Bajra -20%
Groundnut cake -20% Rice polish -30%
Fish meal -7% Groundnut cake -9%
Mineral mixture -7% Maize gluten meal -12%
vitamins Mineral mixture -8%
v. Maize -35% -
Rice bran -20%
Wheat bran -10%
Groundnut cake -12% .
Fish meal -7%
Mineral mixture -6%
B. Broiler nutrition
Broiler is a young chicken, usually 6-12 weeks of age of either I sex specially raised for
meat production. Because of the need to obtain rapid growth in broiler, their nutrient
requirements are higher than the chicken being raised for egg production. On the basis of
growth rate, the broiler nutrition can be divided into 2 phases:
0 -5 weeks -starter phase
6 -9 weeks -finsher stage
In practice, diets for starter broilers (0-5 weeks) should contain 3100-3400 kcal ME per
kg, for maximum growth rate. Finisher diets (6th week onwards) are recommended to have
energy level of 3400 kcal ME per kg feed.
Feeding of the high protein pre-starter diets is beneficial since it gives a stimulus for the
early growth of the broiler. Since the quality of a protein depends upon its constituent amino-
acids it is necessary to knwo the minimum quantities of the amino acids in the broiler diets.
1. Broiler starter ration (0-5 weeks)
i. Maize -57% ii. Maize -51%
Sunflower cake -15% Rice polish -10%
Mustard cake -10% Groundnut cake -14%
Fish meal -6% Sunflower -8%
Meat meal -7% Fish meal -8%
Silkworm meal -3% Meat-cum-bone meal -3%
Mineral mixture -2% Silkworm pupae -5%
vitamin Mineral mixture -1 %
iii. Maize -45% ii. Maize -44%
Rice polish -15% Rice polish -10%
Groundnut cake -26% Groundnut cake -14%
Fish meal -7% Sunflower cake -14%
Silkworm pupae meal -5% Fish meal -10%
Mincral mixture -2% Blood meal -4%
vitamin Animal fat -2%
-------------------- Mineralmixture -2%
2. Broiler finisher ration (6.9 weeks)
i. Maize -44% ii. Maize -45%
Rice polish -20% Rice polish -20%
Groundnut cake -11 % Groundnut cake -10%
Sunflower cake -II % Sunflower cake -9%
Fish meal -6% Fish meal -9%
Meat meal -5% Blood meal -3%
Fat -1% Fat -2%
Mineral mixture -2% Mineral mixture -2%
iii. Maize -50% iv. Maize -50%
Rice polish -20% Rice polish -20%
Groundnut cake -13% Groundnut cake -8%
Fish meal -10% Maize gluten meal -8%
Silkworm pupae meal -5% Fish meal -10%
Mincral mixture -2% Meat meal -3%
vitamin Mincral mixture -1%
C. Desi birds diet
Desi birds in the village home-units run on range and pickings. If there are only a few
birds, they can get enough feed to pick and make up a balanced ration from waste grains, shed
seeds, maggots, cow dung, bones, insect, green pickings, meat and kitchen wastes, vegetable
tops and prunings, wastes at weekly markets etc. When they get good pickings, poultry pay
well. But kitchen scraps and vegetable trimmings cannot meet the requirements of layers.
These may be useful in supplementing other more appropriate feeds. It is essential for the
profitable production of good qualily eggs that layers are fed with a diet containing the correct
balance of energy, proteins, vitamins and mineral ingredients.
The desi birds should be given a small quantity of mixed ration daily to provide very
cheap and balanced feeding. The village birds will combine this with feeds available in the fields
when they are let out, to make a balanced feed. This way the bird will lay marc number of eggs
and compared to the expenditure on feed, the profits will be more.
Alternately, the birds can be given broken maze, paddy or ragi grains about 1 kg for 20-40 birds
daily and permit them to run outside freely on range. This may cost very little, but one can get ,
25-50% more number of eggs that the birds on completely free range but again not as much as
the same birds would give on deep litter feeding on full mash ration.
Therefore, for the backyard units of desi birds, it is better to give them some feed
mixtures and then they arc let loose on the fields for supplementing the given feed. These birds
have an innate capacity to pick and eat only those ingredients as are required by their nutrition
status. For example, if high quality protein is missing from the diet, then the birds will selectively
pick and feed on the insects or worms to balance their diet.
Given below are the examples of feed mixtures for the desi birds.
1. For chicks and growers:
Maize 50 parts
Groundnut cake 15 parts
Broken wheat 5 parts
Fine rice bran 10 parts
Fish meal 10 parts
Molasses 5 parts
+ vitamins + antibiotic 5 parts
2. For layers:
Maizc 60 parts
Groundnut cake 10 parts
Wheat bran 15 parts
Fish meal 10 parts
Mineral vitaminsand 5 parts
Rice bran can substitute wheat bran. Pulses can substitute wheat for better results
VIII. Feeding Management
A sound feeding programe during the rearing of poultry is essential for the production of
high quality chicks without much mortality.
1. Quantity to be fed
Quantity of the mixed ration to be fed depends upon the age groups of poultry. For the
chicks of 0.2 weeks, finely broken rice or other small grains or bread crumbs are given are the
first feed. Skimmed milk or butter milk should be supplied for drinking instead of plain water all
the time. After a week, chick mash is introduced which is specially prepared with finely broken
grains of rice, ragi, cambu, wheat or maize, with aquatic quantities of vitamins, minerals,
antibiotic feed supplements and coccidiostat.
After 2 weeks, the quantity of chick feed is increased gradually. After 6 weeks, wet mash
is introduced along with succulent, well chopped greens like Lucern. Some onions and garlic
well chopped may also be included.
The quantity required of chick will very from 10 g to 50 g per chick according to their age
After 8 weeks, the chick mash must be gradually substituted by grower mash, enriched
with vitamins and minerals including all the essential nutrients for healthy growth at an
economical cost. Quantity fed varies from 50 to 80 g per grower per day, according to age (8-20
At about 18th week, specially prepared layer mash fully vitaminised and mineralised is
introduced. Plenty of well chopped greens and water is also provided. Feeding pellets instead of
mash will prove more economical and neat. 80-200 g per bird per day is fed to the bird,
depending on its body weight and production capacity.
2. Time or feeding
Regularity of feeding is also important as the birds will soon learn and expect to have
their feed in the punctual time, if they are in good health.
The chicks are fed 5 to 6 times a day in small quantities upto 8 weeks of age.
For the backyard units, the birds should preferably be let out early in the morning (just
before sunrise) after providing them with clean drinking water. A little later, some grains about
15 g per bird can be thrown out for the birds to pick. Just before noon, some greens or
vegetable pruning or kitchen trimmings can be fed, well chopped and mixed with mash. Late in
the evening, some more grains similar to the early morning feed can be given. This \\'ill tempt all
birds to return to their right shelter after the day's roaming,
These timings can be changed to suit the individual farmers, put regularity is impol1ant
in order to train the birds to adjust to these timings.
IX. Feeding under Stress Condition
Poultry is said to be under stress, when there is any departure from the normal routine
causing inconvenience to the birds. Nutritional deficiency, diseases, extreme weather
conditions, crowding, debeaking and vaccination as also the unusual noise, transporting chicks
etc. are the main causes of stress in the poultry. Profits from poultry operations depend upon
the elimination of as many stresses as possible.
Stress in the birds is indicated by the increase in size and functioning of a number of
glands in the birds body and loss of appetite. Adult animals usually lose weight while growth
slows down or ceases in growing animals.
Antibiotics and vitamin A are beneficial in reducing early chick mortality in diseases and
also in times of stress. Their use is suggested after any shock or upset conditions such as
overheating, chilling, vaccination, deworming and debeaking. They are fed 2 or 3 days prior to
the period of stress and 2 to 5 days following stresses, depending on the condition of the birds.
Nutrition under heat stress deserves a special mention. Energy requirement of chicken
decreases the feed consumption. The fall in feed consumption may cause general or specific
nutrient deficiency. The real temperature range for layer chickens lies between 13 to 30'C. Thus
the feed intake may decrease by 1.5% per lo C increase in temperature as the latter increases
from 20'C to 30'C, while the decline in feed intake may be 4-5% for each 1oC rise in temperature
in the range of 30-40 degree centigrade.
While the increase in temperature decreases the energy requirement, the requirement
for protein, minerals and vitamins do not decrease. The summer diet of birds should contain
higher level of these nutrients.
The heat stress can be reduced by feeding diet which will lower the heat production in
the body. Among the nutrients utilized by the body for energy, fats cause the lowest heat
production and the proteins the maximum. Therefore, the dietary protein requirement can be
minimized by ensuring that only essential amino-acids needs are met, and dietary excess of
amino-acids are avoided.
Reports indicate a reduction in the body synthesis of vitamin C by birds at higher
temperature. Restoration of impaired thyroid functioning (due 10 excess heat) and improvement
in egg production and shell quality of eggs have been reported with the vitamin C
supplementation of summer diets.
Birds require more water at higher temperatures. Plenty of cool and clean water must be
ensured during summer months.
Poultry farmer's success mostly depends on the type, source and quality of feed, which
accounts for the 70% of the total cost of egg production and 55% of the cost of broiler
Availability of feeds and their ingredients contributed significantly to the increased poultry
production of the country during the last two-three decades. Fortunately, requirements for many
nutrient., for poultry are known and standards are available as a guide.
However, the biggest constraint in feeding of the poultry is that, the bulk of the cereals
produced in our country has necessarily to be diverted for human consumption. As a result, the
main problem will be balancing the various nutrients in an available from to give the necessary
Level of dietary energy, amino-acids and other nutrients necessary for the birds. Majority of the
non-conventional feed ingredients are unsuited for inclusion in the formulated feeds because of
the presence of excess of some deleterious factors. Some of these are unpalatable and others
are incompatible with oilier feed ingredients when mixed with them.
No individual feed ingredients can supply all the nutrients required for growth and
production. Therefore, a variety of food ingredients from different sources have to be mixed in
such a way that it provides a balanced nutrition in an available form. For this, one has to take
into account a number of factors like the breed, environment management practices, health
status, the choice of ingredients and their relative cost suitable changes have to be made
sometimes to suit the economic and other conditions.