Broilers are meat chickens bred to eat more and grow fast within a short period of time. Notwithstanding, there are other important factors that must be met to ensure your broiler chickens eat more and convert the same to meat, which means more profitability, irrespective of their genetic growth potential.
Yes! You are on this page because you want your broilers to grow fast and heavy, but that will not be possible if they don’t eat as much as they are expected to eat.
Obviously, if your broilers eat little or no food there is no way they are going to grow, which means to progress and waste of time and resources. Now we are back at the question, How Can I Make My broiler Eat More?
To answer this question holistically, I am going to examine 5 key areas that may be responsible for the low intake of feed in your broiler chickens.
So, let get down to business...
This might sound obvious, it but cannot be ignored. We both know that a sick chicken cannot eat or feed very well, therefore, you have to ensure your birds are healthy and active.
A healthy and active bird will always want to eat, and broilers will eat more even while sitting- that is what they are created for, to eat and grow fast within a short period.
Sometimes your chickens may be sick but at the same time look healthy. They cannot talk, so they cannot complain like humans if they feel sick.
Thus, is left for you to pay close attention to your birds to know when they fall sick. Check their feces for signs of diarrhea (watery, whitish, greenish, bloody, or brownish poop).
And most of these diseases like coccidiosis, and respiratory diseases can affect the appetite of your broiler chickens without showing any physical symptoms.
Also, external parasites (mites and lice) and Internal parasites (worms) can also affect the appetite of your broiler chickens and cause them to eat less due to stress from the parasites. Parasites are nutrient drainers.
Thus, the first key to ensuring your broilers eat more is to make sure they are healthy, active, and happy.
Your main concern should be how to keep your broiler healthy.
Follow these few guidelines to keep your broiler chickens healthy.
Palatable Pellet Feed
Palatability of poultry feed ingredients is one of the criteria considered in feed formulation. A feed ingredient cannot be used if it is not palatable to the birds, irrespective of its nutritional value.
I could remember this brand of feed that contains melon seeds, and I noticed that my birds don’t like it and they always avoid it while feeding.
This reduced their appetite and interest because the melon seeds are just everywhere in the feed. I was forced to change the feed.
If you must use such unpalatable feedstuff, ensure you process the feed into a pelletized form, or buy a pelleted feed, in that way they can eat the complete feed ingredients as a whole without being picking or selective
While formulating your poultry feed, you should try to answer these questions;
what makes animal feed more palatable ? or what are the palatability factors of food? Such as taste, odor, appearance, texture, temperature, and even sound too.
And of course, the feed must be fresh as well. Avoid over storing your feed to prevent moldiness. And don’t overfill the feeders, the remnants will get spoilt and reduce the interest of your birds to feed.
Also, ensure your feed is not containing appetite suppressants. Appetite suppressants are normally given to reduce feed intake in order to avoid heavy weight at the market stage.
Research has shown that under proper lighting, birds tend to consume more feed, which tends to increase their live weight. So, you should consider having bright light in your pen or chicken coop for better feeding performance.
Also, is the light bright enough for your broilers to feed and drink? If not, you have to increase the light intensity to ensure your birds feed properly, especially in the first week of life.
In doing this, make sure you adjust the duration of the light to avoid overfeeding and reduction in feed efficiency due to constant or prolonged lighting.
Although, there are different lights regimens, just find out the one that works for you.
Provide enough feeders to ensure all your birds feed simultaneously.
Give your broilers fresh cool water during hot weather
Research has also shown that birds don’t eat well under extreme temperature (too cold or too hot) conditions.
It also showed that in a high-temperature environment, like about 32 degrees Celsius and with prolonged days of heat stress can cause a reduction in feed consumption, heatstroke, low body weight, and poor feed conversion rate (FCR)in broiler chickens.
Besides, extreme temperature, poor ventilation can cause your birds to eat less. It is one of the causes of ammonia buildup in pens, which is a trigger for respiratory disease in chickens. There is a need to adjust your vent in relation to the weather condition.
Poor ventilation can cause ammonia build-up in your pen, which induces stress and will cause your broiler to eat less.
So, if you want your broiler to eat more, ensure there is adequate ventilation in your pen or coop and avoid extreme temperatures and dusty atmosphere.
What you will do here is to deprive them of food or give them little to eat, which will help to stimulate hunger. In their water, add some multivitamins, this will help induce hunger in them too.
Some fruit like watermelon, strawberry, pawpaw, pineapple, etc can also do the trick.
If a chicken will not eat due to sickness or injury, the first to do is to ensure the chicken is well hydrated if you want the bird to stay alive to eat. Water is essential in all chicken’s metabolism processes.
Also, include electrolytes in the water for proper metabolic process and recovery.
When it comes to eating, you will have to grind the feed into powder and dilute with warm water and add it little milk to make it enticing to eat. If the chicken is too weak to eat, you can use a dropper to spoon-feed the chicken.
There are many factors that can cause your chicken to be so skinny. First, what breed is your chicken? Some breeds like the road runners, our local chickens, normally look skinny. It is just their nature.
Sometimes at day old, your chicks might be mixed with a look-alike breed with the same feather color and plumage.
This may not be noticeable at the first week of life until several weeks later when they begin to exhibit their unique features –some will look bigger, while some will look so skinny.
Notwithstanding, just ensure you buy your chicks from a reputable vendor or supplier.
The obvious check is to check if your bird is healthy and parasite-free. Parasites like mites are very creative when they invade.
They are very clever about hiding themselves from being noticed, and yet they drain your chicken off their nutrient leaving your chickens in the state of one step forward three steps backward-they feed but no sign of growth.
Watch out for red mites, lice, worms in their poop. Spray disinfectant in your coop and pen, deworm your chickens periodically with dewormer like ivermectin. Then, you can as well treat any other diseases affecting your flock.
There is no magic or trick to make your chicken grow faster. Your chicken will grow according to its genetic potential, proper nutrition, and good managerial practice and welfare.
As I earlier stated above, that a chicken will grow based on its genetic potential and general managerial practices.
Some breeds will lay eggs as early as 16 weeks while some will take as long as 24 or even 28 weeks to drop. While in some cases they will not at all, maybe diet, health, or environmental factors.
To learn how to increase your layers egg performance click here
The amount of food to feed your chicken will depend on the age and type of chicken. Generally, chicks require a little amount of feed compare to adult birds, while meat chickens like broilers eat more than other breeds like the leghorns.
To learn how to estimate the amount of feed to give your birds per day click here.
We have looked at possible reasons why your chickens are not eating more, and suggestions to make them eat more. However, they might be other reasons why your chickens are not eating more.
The reasons mentioned above are from research and from my personal experience. For proper diagnosis, you can visit your local vet or an expert in chicken management and practices.
If you have encountered such a problem in your flock, I will be glad if you can share your experience with us.
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