For more than 100 years, we have
produced animal feed products of excellent quality and the highest
integrity. We hope this information will answer some of your questions
about raising game birds and waterfowl. Flight ReadyTM Game Bird
Feeds are designed to provide critical nutrients game birds need for
fast, efficient development and growth. Successful game bird
production not only depends on a sound nutritional program, but also
proper management through all stages of development. For additional
information, please contact your ADM Animal Nutrition dealer or
Industry wide, there has been little feed research done with game
birds. That's why ADM Animal Nutrition has conducted feeding trials
at our Research Farm. However, most producers have their own
unique management program. The management guidelines presented
here are general and applicable under most conditions, modifiable
to the individual producer.
Ideally, the brooder house should be isolated so young birds have
no contact with older birds. Since this is not always possible,
good management becomes even more important.
The brooder house, or area, and all equipment should be thoroughly
cleaned, disinfected, and completely dried before housing the
Game birds can be floor brooded or battery brooded (on wire). Up
to 500 birds can be placed in a floor brooder, while the number
per unit in a battery brooder is usually less than 100. General
guidelines for both brooding systems are the same with a few minor
The brooder should be turned on one day before the birds are
housed. Temperature should be 95° (F) at bird height for the first
week, and decreased 5° (F) per week until the outside temperature
is reached. Careful observation will indicate whether the birds
are too cold or too hot. When too cold they will huddle under the
brooder or in a corner and some may smother. If too hot, the birds
will stay away from the brooder and will look drowsy. When the
temperature is proper, the young birds will be evenly dispersed
around, and out of, the edge of the brooder.
Place water jars before the birds are brought to the brooders.
Clean and disinfect the jars daily with a tamed iodine
disinfectant. As young birds learn where the automatic waterers or
large water founts are, remove the chick jars a few at a time.
When floor brooding, place the water jars on a square of wood or
wire to keep litter out of the waterers.
Ideally, feed should not be provided until the birds have been in
the brooders about three hours and have had a chance to drink. For
battery brooders, place feed on egg flats the first few days. For
floor brooders, use chick box lids with feed in them until the
birds learn to eat from the feeders. As with the chick jars,
remove the feeder lids a few at a time.
When battery brooding, use the proper sized wire mesh: 1/4" x 1/4"
for quail and chukar, 3/8" x 3/8" or less for pheasant and
guineas, and 1/2" x 1/2" or less for chicks, geese, and turkeys.
Locate the brooder in a draft-free area, and empty dropping pans
When floor brooding, use proper litter material and a brooder
guard. Fine shavings make the best litter, but these are sometimes
hard to find. Other absorbent materials such as chopped straw (2"
to 3" long), ground corncobs about pea size, dried chopped
sugarcane, or other materials also work. However, avoid using
sawdust. Birds tend to eat it, causing impacted gizzards. Whatever
litter used, be sure it is clean, dry, and free of dust.
A brooder guard is usually an 18-inch high roll of cardboard or
hardware cloth circling the brooder which eliminates corners where
young birds can pile up. Use hardware cloth in the summer to
improve ventilation and cardboard in the winter to prevent drafts.
Good management and sanitation practices are critical during the
brooding and rearing phases to help prevent diseases. It is
important to provide growing birds adequate feeder, waterer, and
If being raised for release, or if the finishing pens are outside,
birds should be gradually acclimated to the outdoors during the
rearing period. Remember that birds which are being raised for
release should not be tamed down and that they need to be
conditioned for the habitat into which they will be released.
Cannibalism is a serious problem which can cause considerable
losses. It is best prevented by allowing the birds adequate room
and by maintaining a low-light intensity of 0.5 foot-candles.
However, if that fails, an effective way to treat it is by
trimming the front 1/4 of the beak with a nail clipper or an
electric debeaker. Also, "peepers" or eye blinders can be used on
pheasants to reduce pecking.
For a successful breeding program, it is essential to begin with
top quality birds. No matter how good the management, it is
impossible to exceed the genetic potential of the bird. After
acquiring the best breeders, proper management is necessary to
obtaining maximum quality offspring.
Proper management begins prior to the breeding season. Adequate
space, fresh water, and proper feed are essential to healthy
birds. Where possible, use breeder feed 3 to 4 weeks prior to lay.
Early introduction to breeder improves performance for the entire
lay cycle, increasing egg production. Breeders should be switched
to a breeder feed by the time they reach 10% production. Provide
and maintain appropriate nests of clean, dry material.
Lighting is a very important aspect of any successful breeding
program. Breeders kept in natural daylight will perform
adequately. These breeders will come into production in the spring
when daylight hours are increasing.
Light-tight housing and artificial lighting can be used to alter
egg production and to recycle birds successfully. Numerous
lighting programs can be used.