By: Dr. Jessie Talledo, DVM and Raquel Detablan (Animal Nutritionist)
To achieve their full potential, gamefowls need to be given the right feeds that meet their nutritional requirements. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of feeding gamefowl and the best practices to follow when creating a feed program.
To develop a successful feeding program for your gamefowl, it's crucial to consider if they are in maintenance, conditioning or pointing periods. For instance, a maintenance feeding program is vastly different from pointing period feeding program. Therefore, feeds must be formulated with the nutritional needs of each period.
One of the essential nutrients in gamefowl feeds is protein, which helps build and repair muscle tissues. A diet high in protein is crucial in developing powerful muscles in gamefowl, resulting in better performance during the show. Experts recommend up to 22% crude protein to maintain muscle development and repair of tissues.
Another crucial factor to consider when developing a feed program is maintaining a consistent feeding pattern and schedule. Gamefowl have a unique digestive system that can only accommodate small amounts of food at a time in their crops, and it's important to feed them accordingly.
In addition, it's essential to adjust feeding schedules based on the bird's training schedule. Like athletes, gamefowl require training schedules to perform at their best. The feeding schedule should be adjusted to provide complex carbohydrates in the morning as a fuel source, then provide protein and recovery nutrients after training.
While feeding your gamefowl, it's essential to monitor each bird's weight and performance to adjust their feeding accordingly. The amount of feed each bird requires varies based on their individual needs, and it's important to adjust the amount to achieve the best results.
Feeding Program - Maintenance Phase
One of the most important aspects of gamefowl nutrition is feeding them the right feeds and supplements during their maintenance phase. This is the phase when the gamefowl is not being conditioned for a show but instead being prepared for the next two phases namely conditioning and pointing. In this section, we will discuss the recommended maintenance feeds and feeding components for gamefowl.
Maintenance pellets are an essential component of the gamefowl diet. They usually come with 18% CP and fortified with vitamins and minerals. These pellets are the primary source of protein in the diet, contributing to sustaining and maintenance of muscle tissues of the gamefowl. During the maintenance phase, gamefowls do not need large amounts of energy. Unused energy will just transform to fats, and eventually will make the gamefowl generally unhealthy. Therefore, it is recommended to use maintenance pellets to provide the necessary nutrients without adding excess energy to the diet.
Corn is a high energy feed, pound for pound. For decades it has been one, if not the most, of the cheapest ingredients in gamefowl feed. This is why corn has become the major feed component of gamefowl feeds. On maintenance stage, gamefowls do not need large amounts of energy. Additionally, corn is not cheap anymore, sometimes it is more expensive than maintenance pellets. But for gamefowls, particularly roosters need to get use consuming this staple feed.
On maintenance phase as well as in molting phase, we recommend using whole corn, which has more protein and is more economical. Moreover, whole corn still has more oil than ground/processed forms.
Scratch grains are a high-fiber multi-grain feed that usually comes with 14% CP, particularly on what we personally use. The grains are composed of tapilans, lupins, peas, wheat, oat groats, jockey oats, safflower, barley, corn, and sorghum, some may have beans, sunflower and other seeds. The more diverse the components there are, the more combination of nutrients there is. If gamefowls are accustomed to consuming this array of grains, they will have good nourishment that comes economically. Not much of vitamins and minerals supplement is needed.
However, on about 75% of farms, this wide array of grains are not all consumed. There is evidence of leftovers on the ground or the farms feed gamefowls with lesser grain components (unlike what we personally use that is composed of 18 kinds of grains). This results in the economical side, more vitamins and minerals are needed because the feed lacks the scarcity it needed.
Jockey Oats, not dehulled, is a high in fiber grain that is added to our mixture. It supports overall health in this phase as well. Dehulled oats, on the other hand, is also needed as it is easy to assimilate, making there is no spike on energy even this is just a maintenance phase of their life.
See below that the Oats compose 10% of the mixture, half of this is hulled, and half is dehulled. If one is to use dehulled ones only, make the ratio of the jockey oats doubled. And the feeding ration would be 10% bulkier.
High Protein Grains: A Gamechanger for Gamefowl Rations
Gamefowl breeding requires a delicate balance of nutrition to ensure optimal growth and performance. One essential aspect of this balance is incorporating high protein grains into the gamefowl ration.
The Role of High Protein Grains in Gamefowl Rations
High protein grains such as soybeans, corn gluten, and wheat middlings are excellent sources of protein that help gamefowl develop strong muscles and bones. They are also essential for the conditioning stage, ensuring that the gamefowl are in top physical shape for their show performance.
In addition to conditioning, incorporating high protein grains into the ration contributes to the balance of the mixture. Although high protein grains should only comprise 10% of the mixture, their role is vital in ensuring that gamefowl receive the right amount of protein for optimal growth and development.
Gamefowl maintenance supplements are dietary additives or products that are given to gamefowl during the off-season or when they are not being conditioned for the show. The purpose of maintenance supplements is to help maintain the birds' overall health, well-being, and performance level, even when they are not being prepared for the show.
Promotor Multivitamins + Amino Acid
These supplements often contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and other natural or synthetic ingredients that are believed to support the birds' immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and other bodily functions. Some common examples of maintenance supplements include:
Vitamin and mineral supplements: These contain a variety of essential nutrients that support overall health and well-being, including immune function, bone health, and muscle growth. Examples: Vitminpro Tablet, V-22 Tablet, Viteral, Ironex, Excelite C.
Digestive supplements: These contain natural enzymes and probiotics that support digestive health and help the birds absorb nutrients from their food. Example: True Grit Gamefowl Supplement.
Respiratory supplements: These contain natural or synthetic ingredients that support respiratory health and enhances oxygen utilization. Example: Derby Pills, Respigen and Dragon Driver.
Joint and muscle supplements: These contain natural ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin that support joint health and reduce inflammation in the muscles.
Antioxidant supplements: These contain natural or synthetic antioxidants that help protect the birds' cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Stallion Vitamin B-12 Formulated for Gamefowls
Maintenance Feed Table
Providing a maintenance feed table is a useful tool for gamefowl farmers to assess if their feed ration meets the nutrition requirements needed by their gamefowl. The table includes components, their percentage, and remarks. Farmers can adjust the percentage of components based on the brand's specifications and their farm environment.
The maintenance feed table should include the following components:
|Corn (Whole)||10%||May be a mixture of crack and whole|
|Jockey Oats||5%||aka: Racehorse oats, whole oats|
|High Protein Grains||10%|
|Maintenance Pellets||40%||35 to 45, adjust per brand specs|
Reminders for Gamefowl Farmers
It is essential to consider adjustments as per the farm environment, particularly for farms with limited sizes. Activities such as rotating the gamefowls and germinating seeds can help promote optimal growth and development, especially in areas without enough greens.
Monitoring the gamefowl's health status is also crucial. Gamefowl breeders should look for signs such as weight and color of the skin, particularly under the wings. Light colored skin denotes a balanced diet and activities, while yellowish and light purple colored skin denotes fatty tissues and too much iron, respectively.
Feeding Program - Conditioning Period
Protein is a vital component for gamefowl as it is responsible for building and repairing muscle. The feed must have a crude protein of 17 to 19 percent for properly precondtioned gamefowls. If you don't precon the birds, it is recommended to read our precon articles. For those not preconed, you may need to give your rooster up to 22% crude protein to maintain the development and repair of muscle tissues in a more constrained time.
For more advanced enthusiasts, amino acid composition and supplements are recommended. Using an 18% crude protein diet may not be enough if the amino acids responsible for primary muscle power are lacking. This is a more advanced topic that we will discuss in a separate article.
Voltplex KQ Amino Acid + Multivitamins, a perfect conditioning supplement.
The Feed Composition (Ingredients)
The feed composition varies depending on the resources available in different localities. Here are some key ingredients:
Grains provide the primary source of energy for gamefowl, and the type of grain used depends on the desired outcome.
Corn: contains the highest energy and is the best grain for carboloading. However, too much corn can make your gamefowls heavy, as this energy will be converted to fat if not used. We recommend using this grain at 10 to 30 percent, depending on the individual rooster's fat content.
Wheat: is one of the keys to developing breast muscle. It must be soaked or fermented before feeding, and only use this grain in 10% amounts, as it can make your gamefowl heavy due to the water content.
Oat groats: the husk is already removed, making it the easiest to digest and the softest grain. Do not soak this grain, as it can make your gamefowl's body watery and slower.
Jockey oats: oats, not dehulled, is a high-fiber grain used to make gamefowl lighter. We recommend giving it at 10 to 30 percent. In conditioning, we give it 10 percent and don't give them more than 10% in the last week. In precon, 30% is given initially until they get to 10 percent when they have almost no fat at all.
Mixed grains: consists of tapilans, lupins, peas, wheat, oat groats, jockey oats, safflower, barley, corn, and some may have beans and other seeds. This feed is formulated to provide ample sources of different nutrients. This fibrous feed is what chickens eat naturally and comes with quality and economic benefits for gamefowl. Mixed grains may have 14 to 18 percent crude protein and come with vitamins and minerals, making it generally healthier for gamefowl. However, it may not be enough or still lacks the energy needed for power and endurance.
Barley: we usually do not add this grain, as the barley mixed in the mixed grains will suffice.
Conditioning pellets are specially formulated feed supplements that are designed to provide additional nutrients to gamefowls during the conditioning period. These pellets contain a higher crude protein content (20-22 percent) and are fortified with higher calcium, vitamins, and minerals to raise the amounts to at least the minimum level needed by the gamefowls. They are usually given 30% to 40% of the whole diet.
One of the advantages of conditioning pellets is that they often come with Phytic Acid Neutralizer (PAN). Phytic acid is an antinutrient found in grains, which can interfere with muscle contraction. PAN is added to conditioning pellets to neutralize the negative effects of phytic acid and promote muscle contraction.
Animal Proteins: An Essential Supplement
Animal proteins are crucial supplements during the gamefowl conditioning process. These proteins are essential for muscle tissue repair and growth, which is essential for the gamefowl's strength and performance during the show. Animal proteins contain many amino acids that are required for creating muscle tissues. Compared to plant sources, animal protein has a higher essential amino acid content, making it a more efficient source of protein for gamefowls.
Eggwhite: A Key Protein Supplement
Eggwhite is an excellent source of protein that can help create lean muscle in gamefowls. It is cholesterol and fat-free, making it a healthier source of protein. The main advantage of eggwhite is its ability to add moisture to the feed. However, eggwhite should be cooked or treated with heat before feeding it to gamefowls. Raw egg white can contain antinutrients that can interfere with digestion.
Beef: A High-Quality Protein Supplement
Beef is another excellent source of protein that is widely used in gamefowl conditioning. It has a higher crude protein content than eggwhite and pork and contains many amino acids that are required for muscle tissue repair and growth. Beef liver is ideal for the precon and conditioning stages, while beef is best fed in the last few days before the show.
Milk: A Source of Moisture for Gamefowls
Milk is another source of protein that can be used to supplement gamefowls during conditioning. However, the problem is that gamefowls are not mammals and do not produce lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose. This means that the energy from milk is not absorbed or assimilated by the gamefowls. Milk can still be beneficial for gamefowls by adding moisture to the feed.
To make milk more easily assimilated by gamefowls, you can ferment it using Lactic Acid Bacteria. Fermenting milk can break down the lactose into simpler forms that can be assimilated by the gamefowl. However, fermented milk can be acidic, so other acidic supplements should be removed from the feed to avoid any gastrointestinal discomfort.
Feed Preparation and Processing: Maximizing Nutrient Absorption for Gamefowls
Feeding the right kinds of food is not enough. The birds must also be able to absorb the nutrients from the feed effectively. This is where feed processing comes in. In this article, we will explore four methods of feed processing that will help maximize nutrient absorption for gamefowl: soaking, fermenting, germinating, and cooking. We will also discuss the significance of grits in grinding the feed for the birds.
Soaking: Eliminating Hazardous Materials and Improving Protein Assimilation
Soaking the grains is an effective way of eliminating hazardous materials such as toxins and phytic acid. Phytic acid can make muscle contraction weaker, resulting in poor power and extension. Soaking can significantly decrease or even eliminate the phytic acid content of the grains.
Another advantage of soaking the grains is that it improves the assimilation of protein in beans, peas, lupins, and tapilans. Chickens can absorb 30% more protein from soaked grains than their dry counterparts. The usual practice is to soak the grains for 7 to 12 hours, from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm, then drain and wash. A new batch is then soaked from 4:30 pm until 7:00 am the next day. The soaking process continues.
Fermenting: Making Fibers More Digestible and Boosting Performance
Fermenting the grains involves soaking them for at least 48 hours with an effective organism such as lactic acid bacteria solution or beneficial indigenous microorganisms. This process provides beneficial organisms for the gamefowl and makes the fibers more digestible. Fermenting is the best method for feeding conditioned gamefowl. It results in healthier birds and greatly contributes to their performance.
Germination: Adding Nutrients and Improving Assimilation
Germinating the grains involves soaking them for 7 to 12 hours, then transferring them to a dark area in a draining container, covered with a towel or newspaper. Let the grains sprout for 24 to 36 hours. This process adds additional nutrients, particularly vitamins, to the feed and improves nutrient assimilation for the chickens. Germination is the best method for feeding gamefowl, except conditioned birds and chicks. However, note that germination may make the crude protein a bit less than the dry, soaked, and fermented counterparts.
It's important to remember that split-peas won't germinate.
Cooking: Enhancing Digestion and Palatability
If soaking, fermenting, or germinating is not feasible, cooking the grains is an alternative way to enhance digestion and palatability. Gamefowl may not eat dry grains completely if they are used to soaked ones. Cooking also minimizes the possibility of digestion upset. However, it's essential to soak the grains again before feeding them to the birds.
Beef and egg whites should be cooked. Beef can be cooked rare, while eggs should be hard-boiled.
Grits: The Key to Grinding the Feed for Gamefowl
Grits are essential in grinding the feed to be digested by the gamefowl. They act as the birds' teeth in the gizzard, particularly in grinding hard grains and other food particles. Providing grits in a feeding cup allows the gamefowls to have them anytime they want to. However, grits should be removed from the feeding cup during the last 5 days of the keep.
True Grit Feed Additive and Supplement for Gamefowls
Gamefowl conditioning supplements are dietary additives or products that are given to gamefowl to enhance their physical and mental capabilities. These supplements typically contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and other natural or synthetic ingredients that are believed to improve the birds' health, stamina, strength, agility, and aggression.
Some common examples of gamefowl conditioning supplements include:
Protein supplements: These are often made from soybeans or whey protein and are used to support muscle growth and recovery.
Energy supplements: These contain ingredients like caffeine, guarana, or taurine to boost energy levels and reduce fatigue.
Fat supplements: These are made from vegetable oils or animal fat and are added to the diet to increase the birds' weight and improve their endurance.
Vitamin and mineral supplements: These contain a variety of essential nutrients that support overall health and well-being.
Herbal supplements: These are made from various plants and herbs that are believed to have specific benefits, such as improving digestion, boosting the immune system, or reducing stress.
The Correct Feed Mixing Procedure
Rinse the Soaked Grains
Before mixing the grains, rinse them thoroughly if they were soaked beforehand. If you are fermenting grains appropriately, you may not need to rinse them anymore.
Drain the Grains
Once the grains are rinsed, drain the excess water and let them dry for a few minutes.
Prepare the Mixing Bowl
Choose a mixing bowl that is large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Clean the bowl thoroughly to prevent any contamination.
Chop the Eggwhite to Pecksize
Chop the eggwhite to a size that your animals can easily peck on.
Add the Grains to the Mixing Bowl
Put the grains into the mixing bowl.
Add the Beef, Eggwhite, Milk, and Other Supplements
Next, add the beef, eggwhite, milk, and other supplements like vitamins and minerals. Ensure that the supplements are suitable for the type of animal you are feeding and their age.
Mix the Components in the Bowl
Mix all the ingredients together in the bowl.
Add the Conditioning Pellets Last
Finally, add the conditioning pellets to the mixture. Conditioning pellets usually make up about 25 to 35 percent of the total mixture, but you can adjust the amount according to the brand's specifications.
Mix Again with All the Ingredients Added
Mix all the ingredients again to ensure that everything is well distributed and mixed.
Grains, Protein and Energy Table
To ensure that your animals are getting the right amount of protein and energy from the feed, you need to know the percentage of each grain and supplement in the mixture. The table below shows the recommended percentages for each component.
|Corn (Whole)||30||20 in hot weather and 30 on regular and cold/rainy season.|
|Jockey Oats||10||aka: Racehorse oats, whole oats|
|Ready Mixed Grains||10||20 on hot weather|
|Conditioning Pellets||30||25 to 35, adjust per brand specs|
|Eggwhite||1 : 5||1 medium sized egg: 5 heads|
|beef||3 pcs/head||3 pcs of pea-sized/per feeding|
|Milk||1 tbsp: 5 heads|
Feeding Program - Pointing Phase
The period after gamefowl conditioning, known as Pointing, is a crucial stage that gamefowl breeders must not overlook. If proper pointing is not performed, all the efforts put into conditioning will go to waste.
The kind and style of pointing will differ for every bloodline, and the approach varies among breeders. Experts in this stage will tell you that each bloodline has its own demands for conditioning. The kind of food and exercises differ, but all agree that it must be done to ensure that the gamefowl will stay in peak form before and during the show.
Pointing gamefowls is typically done three days before the show. At this stage, the gamefowl must be fully conditioned, and the main purpose of this stage is to ensure that they reach their tip-top shape.
During the pointing stage, gamefowl breeders still give their fowl vitamins, typically vitamin B12, which can be in injectable form or caplets. The vitamin dose must not be the same as the regular dose being given during conditioning. If the intake was 0.5cc during conditioning, it could be lessened to about half, depending on the weight of the gamefowl. A good number of gamefowl breeders prefer Liquid B12 with Vitamin K.
Decreasing Protein Intake
During conditioning, gamefowl are given a lot of protein, which must be decreased considerably during the pointing stage to lighten up their weight and feeling. With more carbs and less protein, they can recover lost agility and shuffle faster and more effectively. Some of the food that can be used to feed the gamefowl are apple bits, rice, banana, and corn grains.
Increasing Water Intake
Water is an important part of a chicken's diet, even during the pointing stage. Some bloodlines require more water, while others must be given very little liquid. Mixing electrolytes is encouraged in most cases.
Moisture is crucial during the pointing stage, and too much moisture can hinder the gamefowl's movements and cause problems in cutting. Experts have a way of determining excess moisture in the body, such as feeding them with a few bits of dry corn every 2 or 3 hours. If the droppings are too dry, the face will look pale, and the eyes are not as black and fierce-looking in most cases. If the droppings have a green color, it means that there is something wrong with the gamefowl and might need to be treated to prevent infection.
Pointing Feed Mix
|Oat Groats||25 grams|
|Cracked Corn||40 grams|
|Finely Chopped Boiled Egg White||1 piece|
|Flat-Dextrose Powder||1 tbsp|
Carboloading (2-4 days before the show)
To start with, you need to carboload your roosters two to four days before the show. This process involves increasing their intake of carbohydrates to give them the energy they need for the show. Mix 30 grams of oat groats, 70 grams of cracked corn, 40 grams of concentrate, and 60 grams of platinum. Follow the same feeding and watering procedures as you would during normal feeding.
Carboloading (1 day before the show)
On the day before the show, cut their ration to 30 grams per fowl for their morning and afternoon feedings. Cut water intake to 8 dips in the morning and 8 dips in the afternoon. Mix 30 grams of oat groats, 90 grams of cracked corn, 30 grams of concentrate, and 50 grams of platinum. Follow the same feeding and watering procedures as you would during normal feeding.
Carboloading and pointing on the day of the show
On the day of the show, feed them a ration of 30 grams of oat groats, 100 grams of cracked corn, and 50 grams of platinum. Feed them only in the morning, and omit the afternoon feed. Cut water intake to 4 dips in the morning.
Gamefowl pointing supplements are dietary additives or products that are given to gamefowl during the pointing stage, which is the final stage of conditioning before the show. The purpose of pointing supplements is to help the birds reach their peak physical and mental condition for optimal performance in the show.
These supplements often contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and other natural or synthetic ingredients that are believed to support the birds' health, stamina, energy, and aggression during the show. Some common examples of pointing supplements include:
Energy-boosting supplements: These contain ingredients like caffeine, ginseng, or guarana to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue during the show. Examples: Dragon Driver and Respigen
Immune system-boosting supplements: These contain vitamins, minerals, and herbs that support the birds' immune system and protect them from stress-related illnesses. Examples: VitminPRO, V-22 Tablet
Appetite stimulants: These contain natural or synthetic ingredients that stimulate the birds' appetite, ensuring that they eat enough to maintain their energy levels during the show. Examples: Redgel Forte, Levemin GK, MEEB
Stress-reducing supplements: These contain natural calming agents that help reduce the birds' stress and anxiety during the pointing process. Examples: Reload Plus and Respigen