EXOTIC AND OTHER GAME BIRDS
There have been few changes in the feeding of game birds and other related gallinaceous or fowl-like birds in the last 40-50 years. The research into the nutritional requirements have been very limited in exotic and other game birds because of their limited commercial status.
The first advice any nutritionist should share with game bird owners is
very simple- they are living creatures and should be treated as such.
By this, I mean they must be supplied the basic requirements for well
being- food, water, shelter and a suitable environment.
If any one of these is absent, the survivability of the game birds could
be in jeopardy.
There are several basic suggestions when feeding game birds.
Access to water and feed should be provided as soon as possible after
hatching. However, all newly
hatched chicks should be given access to clean, cool water 1-2 hours prior to
the introduction to feed. Young
game birds generally have a higher requirement for protein than domestic
chickens. If high quality
commercial game bird feeds are not available locally, a 28-30 percent protein
turkey starter feed will usually provide well balanced game bird nutrition for
newly hatched chicks. Be sure this
feed is in a mash or very fine crumble form, otherwise the newly hatched chicks
may not be able to physically consume the feed simply because of the size of the
During the first five to ten weeks of life, most game bird chicks should
be only consuming the high protein starter feed.
Grain and supplemental high quality fresh grass and legumes may be
introduced gradually at eight to ten weeks of age.
Start with an evening feeding of grain and give only a small amount that
the birds will consume without wastage. Be
sure to supply an insoluble chick size grit at all times in a separate feeder
when whole grain an other green supplements are fed.
Donāt overfeed grain or green feed or your game birds may not get a
proper balance of the essential nutrients contained in the commercial feed.
After the birds are 12-14 weeks of age, gradual introduction should be
made to a maintenance ration. This
ration can be fed until three to four weeks prior to the breeding season, along
with increasing amounts of grain and other supplemental high quality green
Nutritional requirements for game birds change at breeding time.
For good hatchability and fertility, you must feed a high quality breeder
ration. Start breeder birds on a
breeder ration at least one month before the breeding season is expected to
start. For best results, the change
from a maintenance feed to a breeder dirt should occur gradually over a 5-7 day
period. To change feeds, mix equal
quantities of the two feeds together at first, then remove 25 percent of the
maintenance feed each day until the breeder diet is the only feed.
Provide plenty feeder space ö 3 to 4 inches per bird.
Donāt allow spillage of feed into the litter.
This could lead to eating litter which can have disastrous results.
Keep the height of the feeders at about the level of the birds back.
When changing feeder and watering equipment, do so gradually otherwise
the birds may not recognized new equipment and starve to death.
Never make arbitrary changes in the feeding program without consulting a
qualified nutritionist or the results could be very costly.
If you suspect you have a feed problem, the following suggestions will
help minimize the problems and get your game birds back on a healthy path.
Remove the suspect feed from
all birds and replace it with a feed that you
have had success with in the past or some other high quality game gird
2. Contact a qualified game bird veterinarian to be
absolutely sure you do not
have a disease problem.
3. Review all non-feed management practices to be
sure accepted techniques are
Have the suspect feed
analyzed for proper nutrient content and/or other
These suggestions are
intended to enhance the game bird keepers pleasure and enjoyment.
If you need additions, specific help or suggestions, contact your local
State or University game bird specialists for assistance.
of this article elsewhere in any form without prior consent from the UPA
is strictly prohibited. © 1999 The United Peafowl Association. All rights