Successful breeder and rearer trials help to plan approach for season ahead
PUBLISHED: 11:30 13 March 2021
Reduced mortality and sustainability were both demonstrated during breeding and rearing trial work from Sportman Game Feeds
Performance, reduced mortality and sustainability demonstrated during trial work
Despite the premature end to the shooting season, and after a challenging year dominated by Covid-19 restrictions, Sportsman Game Feeds has been able to successfully complete trial work to provide valuable insights when planning approaches for the season ahead.
With choices to be made as to how best approach the new season, Sportsman trial work will play an important role in maintaining birds’ health, with the latest trials focusing on performance, reduced mortality and sustainability.
The breeding trials programme, repeated from the previous season for validity, looked at reducing vice behaviours such as feather pecking and cannibalism, throughout the laying period, which, due to the pressure placed on these breeding birds, can be common behaviour.
“It is important that breeding birds are in good condition to produce eggs with viable chicks,” says Dr Laura Beeson, Sportsman Game Feeds poultry nutritionist. “Birds must have sufficient body reserves and be fit, but not fat.”
The trials determined that by including a fibre product into the feed to increase gut fill, the likelihood of vice behaviours can be reduced, while nutrient digestibility can be improved by changing the flow of the feed through the gut, leading to increased egg production and fertility.
“Based on the two trials completed this season and user experience, we can demonstrate the benefits of using a fibre product to increase lay percentages, while reducing mortality,” explains Dr Beeson.
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“This means that overall, there are more birds remaining at the end of the breeding period, with a greater number of eggs, and therefore chicks, for rearing or to sell,” she adds.
In the rearer trials, data sets support the suitability of Alphasoy Gold as an improved replacement for fishmeal, giving game birds the best start in early life by optimising feed intake, improving gut health and boosting the immune system.
Alphasoy Gold is a high-quality alternative protein, which has all the nutritional benefits of fish, but without the environmental and sustainability challenges that fish faces. It does not rely on a by-product from another industry, and has the additional merit of being a specialised product produced from soya from zero-deforestation* areas.
“The specialised processing of Alphasoy Gold means that the protein is more available to the bird for growth, with fewer anti-nutritional factors,” says Dr Beeson. “It is a more consistent protein source, removing some of the variability associated with fishmeal,” she adds.
Trial work comparing Alphasoy Gold against an equivalent diet containing fishmeal, fed to pheasants and partridges over seven weeks, showed a significant reduction in mortality over the rearing period.
“Improvements in early mortality are consistent with the promotion of early gut development, which leads to better gut health and thus overall bird health, seen as increased bird body weight gain and reduced overall mortality,” says Dr Beeson.
Achieving an optimal body weight earlier means that birds could be sold on, or released earlier, and thus reduce the amount of grower feed required. For one trial, corrected for mortality, Sportsman have calculated this to be a saving of over £19 per day for every 1,000 birds.
“With the benefit of our successful trial work, we can hopefully help the industry plan ahead with more positivity for the coming season,” concludes Dr Beeson.
*All the certification schemes that Sportsman uses specify zero deforestation. This means the soya has not been grown in areas that have been converted from forest or other valuable native habitats since agreed cut off dates