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How long to feed pellets

PUBLISHED: 15:10 10 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:10 10 September 2018

ssh ask the experts keeper

ssh ask the experts keeper

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You've released your birds, but how long should you continue to feed them pellets for? Graham Cocker offers expert gamekeeping advice to answer the query

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Q: How long should I feed pellets once I’ve released my birds?

GRAHAM CROCKER replies: Some people feed pellets for just a week or so to their poults because of the cost or lack of shoot budget. I honestly don’t think this is right and could lead to unnecessary losses.

When poults arrive at the release pen they will be at best seven weeks old, which is only a third of their growth because we all know they will not be ready for shooting before 21 weeks at the earliest.

Wheat feed on its own will not provide the profile of protein, vitamins and minerals that the growing poults need. Fourteen weeks is a much better target time to gradually switch the birds on to wheat. If pellets are fed to this stage, then the birds will be stronger and far less likely to wander.

Make sure the pellets are fed via a hopper where the birds can gain ready access without feeding from the floor like spring hoppers make birds do. If you use feed springs in the pens, you will be more susceptible to disease creeping into the birds as the ground around the hoppers is likely to be heavily contaminated with pathogens.

The only time I break this rule of keeping the feed off the floor in release pens is when trying to get the birds to take wheat for the first time. I usually sprinkle wheat around the ‘cleaner areas’ from about the 12th week onwards just to tempt them a little bit in to trying a bit. Also, this gives the grain the chance to soften a little, making it a bit more desirable.

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