In this blog, we look at the best feeding options post-grower and answer the age-old question of how to stop birds from wandering…
By now, grower diets are slowing down and the majority of us are in the process of looking at different feeding options. The question we must ask is, how is one to know when to move forward with diets and feeding plans? And when should we make the change in order to contribute towards the best possible bird performance and returns?
To assist, we suggest a range of feeding options to cover all feed changeover scenarios – including:
- Feeding Grower from 7-11/12 weeks and moving straight to wheat
- Feeding Grower from 7-13/14 weeks and to a withdrawal diet to maintain a high level of protein
- Feeding Grower from 7-13/14 weeks and moving to our 15% Covert Pellet
- Feeding Grower from 7-13/14 weeks and moving to wheat/maize mix
- Feeding Grower from 7-11/12 weeks then withdraw and feed a maintenance diet until the end of season
Nutrition, Cost and Performance
From early May, all game birds are fed on high protein diets that contain a multitude of vitamins, supplements, amino acids, oils, fats, fibres and a whole list of ingredients that meet the birds’ nutritional requirements. As each week passes, the diets gradually drop in protein and micronutrients to meet the birds’ ever-changing nutritional requirements.
As we know, pheasants and partridges need to be performing like well-tuned athletes from Sept 1st to Feb 1st and it is up to us to provide them with the fuel they require.
For example, if birds are dropped from a 20% grower diet to a 12/13% plain wheat diet, this sees a huge nutritional difference and can cause birds to wander more than they already are – often to look for more food. It is also important to have plenty of feeders and plenty of drinkers with clean, fresh water to prevent wandering further.
Generally, poultry will only eat to fulfil their energy requirement, meaning feed consumption should be lower on a diet with a high energy content. For example, by feeding a plain wheat diet the birds are going to be missing out on energy and protein; leading to higher consumption, stalled feathering and less weight gain.
We would always recommend not being too quick to move over to wheat. We appreciate that there is a noticeable cost difference between pelleted feed and wheat but, as the saying goes, “Look after your birds and they’ll look after you” and a good diet and the correct feeding options are a key way of looking after your birds.
Going on the last few years, the demand for shooting in December and January is increasing and by feeding pellets for a longer period of time, returns will inevitably increase.
As well as pelleted feed, there are other feeding options to consider, such as holding mixes. Holding mixes are extremely attractive to game birds, hence the name. The holding mixes that we supply contain a range of raw materials, including wheat, cut maize, peas, red & white millet, dari, soya oil, aniseed and various other seeds too.
Holding mixes can look expensive at face value, however, if you take one tonne of any holding mix at a standard rate of £470 per tonne, and you shoot 13 birds at the going rate of £38 per bird, you have covered the cost of the tonne. As well as that, you’ll be holding more birds which will be helping towards end of year returns – resulting in a happy boss!
Stop the Wandering
Some of the reasons for wandering have already been touched on above. To reiterate, the main causes are –
- Looking for natural forage, such as acorns and daddy long legs
- Inquisitive nature
- Competition in pens (Need to spread out)
- Constant noise or disturbance
- Bird of prey burden
- Looking for water
The majority of these causes of wandering can be prevented. The most effective measures include –
- Dogging in
- Walking boundaries in
- Keeping the “middle” of the shoot quiet
- Correct habitat
- Feeding Maize / Holding mixes
- Good game cover
- Pens located in good woodland with plenty of brambles/undergrowth
- Not shooting drives too hard/giving drives plenty of rest!
At Keepers Choice, we supply a range of holding mixes that will help you increase your returns. Mix with wheat or feed sparingly on its own, on feed rides or at leak points around your shot.
For more information on feeding options please call 01508 470661 or head over to our website www.keeperschoice.co.uk