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Feeding a post-hatch special diet remains a controversial topic. Not only because the feed is expensive, by the nature of the special ingredients used in formulating it, but also because there are few quantitative studies. As such, broiler producers are usually encouraged to test the feed and evaluate the results on their own. Of course, this is never a bad piece of advice, but it should follow an informed decision and not replace it.
Towards such an informed decision comes a research report I noticed during the European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition (ESPN) event in early May 2017 in Spain. Researchers from Belgium fed 30 grams of a special post-hatch feed or a standard starter feed to day-old broilers, followed by a normal feeding program. There were 12 replicates per treatment, and 30 broilers per pen. The high number of replicates gives this trial special importance.
A special feed offered immediately post-hatch improves the life-time performance of broilers.
At 35-days old, broilers that had received the special post-hatch feed, upon placement in the house, were 5 percent heavier having consumed 3.8 percent more feed (resulting in slightly over 1 percent improved feed efficiency ratio) over standard-fed broilers. Thus, this trial supports the notion that a special feed offered immediately post-hatch improves the life-time performance of broilers. In this study, we can use the 5 percent higher growth as a fixed point in our cost-benefit calculations.
There continues to be tremendous interest in this area, and formulating such diet remains a mystery, even among nutritionists, if only because it is such fresh topic. A number of relevant articles on broiler super pre-starters can be found at the following links: