The broiler feeding process is aimed at making sure that the bird, being raised for meat, attains the desired weight at the time of slaughter. To attain this, the correct feeding schedule must be followed, day by day, week by week.
Failure to do this will lead to an increase in the duration the farmer keeps the broilers, meaning more costs. This could lead to losses because the broiler meat market will not make up for the extra cost the farmer incurred. This is because, in most markets, broilers are sold according to weight and the price set by the market dynamics of demand and supply. In some markets, the prices are usually fixed.
The broiler feeding chart, broiler lighting program, broiler changeover schedule, and broiler growth chart is available for download at the end of this article. For us to understand the broiler feeding schedule, it is important to understand broiler chicken first.
Most of the broiler chicks sold in the market are a branded variation of the Cornish Cross (Cornish X) hybrid chicken. For marketing purposes, most companies will give them different names e.g COBB 500 (Isinya Broiler), KenChic Broilers, ROSS 208, HUBBARD Broilers, etc.
The commercial broiler industry did not exist before the 1930s. Before this, indigenous breeds were kept for meat. They took a long time to gain the desired weight. Researchers set out to breed a bird that would gain weight quickly and had a body frame that would support the meat e.g broad breasts.
After years of work, the Cornish Cross was developed and has become the most common breed used in commercial broiler production. It comes in color white, with the skin colour being yellow. They are calm and friendly, best suited for keeping under confinement. They cannot fly away from predators, or forage for their own food.
The broilers come in both make and female, with the male gaining more weight than the females. A misconception is that broilers are genetically modified organisms(GMO). They are just products of selective breeding between different chicken breeds.
In Kenya, most broiler farmers keep them under confinement, with the target of getting them to the market between 6 to 8 weeks. The earlier they reach the desired weight, the more profitable it will be for the farmer because they will cut costs on the extra feed and other inputs needed to keep them longer. Following a good broiler feeding guide will ensure the birds gain the weight in a good time.
Understanding broiler nutrition needs
Broilers feed consists of higher protein ration, compared to feed for layers. This is to spur them to gain weight quickly.
Let us have a quick look at the nutrition requirements for broilers.
- Energy (grains)
Broilers need what is called metabolizable energy, which is the remaining energy after the loss in urine and droppings. Energy is needed to support body processes, movement, respiration, etc. Energy, derived from the grain component in feeds, is responsible for the quality of broiler meat. Too little will lead to low weight gain and too much will lead to the meat that has too much fat.
- Crude Protein
Crude protein, from plants and animal products, provide essential amino acids needed for growth and development of tissue.
Broilers need fibre in order to be able to digest feed well and generally for the general health of the digestive system.
Broilers need calcium for bone development.
Other components of broiler feed include Methionine, Lysine, Sodium, Phosphorus
Broiler Drinking Water
Broiler Feeding Cart
Broiler feeding is done ad libitum, meaning they are fed throughout. This means food has to be availed throughput for the chicks. Light should be provided at night for the broilers to see their food. For you to feed the broilers well, you need to have the broiler feeding program, the broiler lighting program and the broiler growth chart.
Broiler Lighting Program
Broilers will need some time to rest at night for optimal growth rate and their general welfare. At these times, the lights should be switched off. Please see the lighting program below:-
|DAY||Hours of Darkness|
|Day 0-4||3 hours|
|Day 5||4 hours|
|Day 6||4 hours|
|Day 7 to Day 21||6 hours|
|Day 22 to Day 28||4 hours|
|Day 29 to Day of Sale||1 hour|
Source : Cobb Broiler Manual
Broiler Feeding Program
For the first 3-5 days make sure you add glucose (for energy) and liquid paraffin which helps them in digestion. Please note that liquid paraffin is not kerosene. You can buy liquid paraffin at your local agro vet
- DAY 1 to Day 21
Starter Mash. One chick will have eaten about 1kg of starter mash by day 21
- DAY 21 to Day 35
Grower Mash. One chick will eat 2kgs of growers mash during this 14 day period.
- DAY 35 to Day 42
Finisher Mash – One chick will eat 1kg of finisher mash during this 7 day period.
Broiler Feed Changeover
On day 20, there is a need to start the changeover from starter mash to growers mash. This should be done gradually.
- Day 20 – Mix 75% of Starter Mash and 25% of Growers Mash
- Day 21 – Mix 50% of Starter Mash and 50% of Growers Mash
- Day 22 – Mix 25% of Started Mash and 75% of Growers Mash
- Day 23 – Give the broilers 100% Growers Mash
To download the Broiler Feeding Program, Lighting Program and Growth Chart above, please fill in the form below.
The chart will be sent via email