Sorting the wheat from the chaff
Shooting Times & Country|August 05, 2020
Sorting the wheat from the chaff
If you want to keep your birds close to home, provide good food and clean water, and never forget that foxes will be foxes, says Liam Bell
Liam Bell

Very often, it is the little things that make a difference. This is never more accurate than when said in relation to the management of poults inside a release pen, and the area immediately outside. Attention to detail is so important, and little tweaks now when the poults are in and around the pens really will make a difference.

If we start with the basics and assume the pen is large enough and has the correct mix of herb cover, shrubs and low roosting, then we should look at the feeding regime next and the feed itself.

Poults need to be on a dedicated game-grower ration when they first go in the pen. Poultry feed is a little cheaper but the compound is different and it won’t give them what they need. We keep our poults — the bulk of which are released in early July — on the pellets until October. We do change from a grower pellet to a covert pellet/poult pellet at about 14 to 16 weeks but don’t add any wheat until they are close to 20 weeks old. Then we have the wheat tested for mycotoxins and protein levels before we feed it. Mycotoxins are toxic compounds found in mould and they will affect the birds’ health negatively and, on occasion, actually kill them.

The protein levels are very important if we want fit, healthy birds. Levels in good wheat are measured as 10 or higher. The birds may well look healthy if the levels are lower but they won’t have the energy to fly. I am convinced some of the flying problems I have heard about in the past are down to low protein/ energy levels in the wheat.

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August 05, 2020