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Ratite Nutrition and Feeding

by 5m Editor
28 January 2005, at 12:00am

By Julian D. Brake, Broiler Extension Specialist, Animal & Poultry Sciences Department, Virginia State University - Small Flock Factsheet, Number 7: There is limited quality research concerning the nutritional requirements of Ratites. However, some dependable guidelines have been established because of work completed in Australia and Africa. As in all diet formulations, a variety of high quality ingredients should be used to meet the nutrient recommendations of the Ratite. Using a wide variety of ingredients helps to decrease the effect of variations that are inherent in all ingredients.

Ratite Nutrition and Feeding - By Julian D. Brake, Broiler Extension Specialist, Animal & Poultry Sciences Department, Virginia State University - Small Flock Factsheet, Number 7: There is limited quality research concerning the nutritional requirements of Ratites. However, some dependable guidelines have been established because of work completed in Australia and Africa. As in all diet formulations, a variety of high quality ingredients should be used to meet the nutrient recommendations of the Ratite. Using a wide variety of ingredients helps to decrease the effect of variations that are inherent in all ingredients.

Recommendations for Ratite Diets:

Probably the greatest concern of the Ratite farmer is related to the protein content of the diets being fed to their birds. Some growers feel that the higher the protein the better. This is not necessarily true. Protein value is of greater importance. When the amino acids are balanced, protein content can be reduced without decreasing the quality of the feed. In fact, high levels of unbalanced proteins can be detrimental to bird growth and performance. In a worst case scenario, if an amino acid is deficient in the diet, the birds may actually consume markedly more feed without increased performance and possibly decreased performance.

Another concern of Ratite growers is related to vitamin and trace mineral levels. Again, the level of individual vitamins and minerals are important but not as important as balance. The balance of the vitamins and minerals are of utmost importance. There are many interactions between many of these required micronutrients. If one particular nutrient is very high in the diet, that nutrient may actually reduce the absorption or metabolism of another nutrient. Therefore, the addition of high levels of a particular nutrient to the diet because of a report of its importance may result in more damage than good.

Recommended Vitamin and Mineral Levels for Diets
Item (source) Amount per ton
Vitamin A
Vitamin D 3
Vitamin E
Vitamin K
Vitamin B 12
Folic acid
Riboflavin
Niacin
d-Pantothenic acid
Pyridoxine
Thiamine
Choline
d-Biotin
Selenium
Manganese
Zinc
Iron
Copper
Iodine
(vitamin A acetate)
(cholecalciferol)
(dl-alpha tocopherol acetate)
(menadione sodium bisulfite complex)
(cyanocobalamin supplement)
(folic acid supplement)
(riboflavin supplement)
(niacin or niacinamide)
(d-calcium pantothenate)
(pyridoxine hydrochloride)
(thiamine mononitrate)
(choline-Cl)
(d-Biotin supplement)
(sodium selenite)
(manganous oxide)
(zinc oxide)
(ferrous sulfate)
(copper sulfate)
(calcium iodate)
12,000,000 I.U.
3,900,000 I.C.U.
45,000 I.U.
15,000 mg
25 mg
2,100 mg
11,000 mg
56,000 mg
21,000 mg
8,000 mg
4,000 mg
450 gm
150 mg
272 mg
80 gm
80 gm
45 gm
10 gm
1 gm

Suggested Minimum Nutrient Compositions
Nutrient Starter
0-8 wks
Grower
8-25 wks
Maintenance
Over 25 wks
Breeder
Met Energy (poultry)
Crude protein (%)
Fat (%)
Linoleic acid (%)
Lysine (%)
Methionine and cystine (%)
Calcium (%)
Phosphorus (%)
Available Phos (%)
Sodium (%)
1200
18.0
3.0
104
0.9
0.7
1.25
0.90
0.68
0.22
1200
17.0
2.5
1.4
0.78
0.60
1.25
0.90
0.65
0.22
1200
16.0
2.5
1.4
0.75
0.55
1.25
0.90
0.65
0.22
1150
16.5
3.5
1.4
0.75
0.60
2.50
0.75
0.52
0.22

Suggested Ingredients, minimums and maximums (lbs/ton)
Ground Yellow Corn
Wheat middlings
Soy (44% CP)
Corn Gluten Meal
Barley
Oats
Wheat
Meat & Bone (50% CP)
Alfalfa meal (dehy)
Fat
0-800
0-450
0-300
0-200
0-200
0-100
0-300
0-150
0-200
0-80
0-800
0-600
0-250
0-200
0-200
0-100
0-300
0-150
0-200
0-80
0-800
0-400
0-350
0-200
0-200
0-100
0-300
0-100
0-200
0-50
0-600
0-650
0-250
0-200
0-100
0-100
0-300
0-100
0-200
0-100

Deflourinated Phosphate, Limestone, D,L Methionine (99%), L-Lysine.HCl, Salt, Vitamin, and Minerals should be added as required to meet recommendations.

When the feed is manufactured, care should be taken to produce a consistent particle size. The Starter feed should be offered in the crumbled form. All other feed should be pelleted.

Feeding Your Birds

If the decision is made to change to this type of formulation, several management procedures should be followed. Always change from one type of feed to another slowly i.e., begin mixing the new diet into the diet which you have been feeding your birds. Initially, mix 1/4 new to 3/4 present diet. After four days, mix the diets 1/2 to 1/2. After eight days, mix the diets 3/4 to 1/4 of the old diet. After two weeks of this process the new diet should totally replace the feed from which the change was made. It is very important to make a slow transition. Problems may arise if a quick change is made. For example, birds may avoid the feed, birds may develop diarrhea, or other responses may be noted. A feeding program is only as effective as the management practices followed.

Birds should be offered an amount of feed on a daily basis that they will actually consume. Forcing the birds to "clean-up" the feed on a daily basis results in the birds consuming a more balanced diet. This keeps birds from picking through the feed and excluding certain constituents from their diet. A feed that is properly pelleted, should not be a problem. Also, leftover feed will either be wasted, get wet and mold, or draw predators and rodents. None of these alternatives are very good for production. Again, management is very important in accomplishing this recommendation. The grower must monitor the consumption of the birds very closely. Do not assume that consumption of feeds used in the past will be the same as new formulations. Feed should be weighed-in in the morning. If feed remains at night, this should be removed and weighed. Feed additions the following day should be consistent with the consumption of the previous day. Growing birds may eat more in subsequent days. If the feed runs out during the day, increase the feed input by 5 to 10 percent on the following day and record the results for future reference.

Source: University of Virginia Virginia Cooperative Extension - January 2005