Let’s bust some myths on meat birds also called meat chickens. What are meat birds? How do you feed meat birds? In this video Twain Lockhart, Nutrena’s Poultry Expert will debunk the top 3 meat bird myths.
If you raise chickens for meat, you know the importance of diet in getting your birds to harvest weight in as little time as possible. Because meat birds (for example, Cornish cross or broilers) are harvested between 6 and 10 weeks of age, it’s important to rapidly maximize growth. A diet containing 22% protein may support this rapid development. Probiotics are another important key to high yield in a short time frame.
History of Poultry Probiotics
Protein and probiotics didn’t always go hand in hand in meat-bird feed. In fact, probiotic technology is relatively new in the world of poultry farming. In the late 1940s, farmers fed antibiotics to meat chickens to further increase their size and prevent disease. These birds grew 2.5 times faster than chickens on a normal diet.
However, 40 years later, Dr. Leighton Linn, a livestock veterinarian from South Dakota, questioned this practice. He believed that correctly formulated probiotics would be superior to antibiotics.
Linn moved to Missouri in 1974 to found Star-Labs with partners Cliff Boyer and Gary Jones. Through careful research, they created a combination of probiotics to colonize a chicken’s entire digestive system and demonstrated through scientific trials that birds fed with the proper combination of probiotics experience significant growth.
Live Is Better
Star-Labs also found that the heat required for the pelleting process killed some of the probiotic micro-organisms. But they knew that meat birds gain the most benefit from feed with live, stable bacteria. With this discovery in mind, Star-Labs developed technology for poultry feeds that delivers live, effective probiotics able to withstand the heat of the pelleting process.
Effective probiotics may include the following strains:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Enteroccus faecium
- Bifidobacterium thermophilum
Why Probiotics for Meat Birds?
Simply put, the superior, research-based results speak for themselves. According to Dr. Gary Davis from North Carolina State University, quality probiotics “enhance nutrient utilization, uptake, and absorption…[and] an immune response in the bird’s gut. This is an excellent management tool to help birds fight off diseases.”
Diets containing high-quality, stable probiotics, such as NatureWise® Meatbird Feed, can boost the number of good gut bacteria, crowd out bad gut bacteria, increase nutrient absorption, and create a slightly acidic gut that favors good bacteria.
See for Yourself!
Ask for NatureWise® Meatbird Feed with probiotics. It will support your birds’ health, feed conversion, and livability—all without antibiotics. To maximize the potential of NatureWise® Meatbird Feed, follow the below feeding instructions:
- Provide as the sole ration from hatch to finish.
- Use a 12-hours-on/12-hours-off feed rotation to prevent overeating.
- Keep clean, fresh water available at all times.
- Clean feeders and waterers regularly.
For more information on these probiotics and their benefits, see the post “Chicken Feeds: They’re not all the same.”
Interested in raising chickens or other poultry species for meat? It’s a different game than raising laying hens. Listen in as Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart shares valuable advice on getting started in the meatbird world.
- Cornish Crosses are the best bird to raise for meat
- Separate them from other breeds
- Restrict their diet to feed 12 hours on, 12 hours off
- Feed a specialized meat bird diet that is higher in protein