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Achieving high levels of fertility and hatchability is crucial to the success of a breeding and hatching business. Performance is influenced by many factors, for example, bird management and environment and the extent of any health challenges, together with the operation of the hatchery, but there is no doubt that the nutrition of the breeding bird also has a significant impact.
Sportsman, with knowledge and experience going back many years, produce feeds designed to help you get the very best out of your breeding birds.
Sportsman trials have shown it is important that birds come into lay in a fit but not fat condition for maximum egg production and hatchability. The breeder feed should be introduced neither too soon nor too late to optimise shell quality - 3 weeks before the first eggs are expected is about right. If shell quality is poor then reduced hatchability caused by microbial contamination is likely but conversely if shells are too hard, hatch can be reduced because the day-old chick finds it difficult to break out of the egg.
During lay a game breeder feed must be fed on an ad lib basis to all birds. Some of the features of Sportsman feeds which support high levels of fertility and hatchability are:
• Optimum levels of protein and energy
Trials have shown that if the ratio of protein to energy is too wide, hatchability can be reduced.
• Correct levels of protein and amino acids
Higher levels of protein (or more exactly, amino acids, the building blocks of protein) are required during lay to meet the nutritional requirements of egg production. However, if specifications are too high, eggs can become over-large, leading to poorer shell quality and reduced hatch.
• Optimum specification for linoleic acid
Linoleic acid is a component of fats and oils and a minimum level is required in the feed for successful hatch. However, high levels of linoleic acid promote increases in egg size which can reduce shell quality and hatchability. The linoleic acid specification of Sportsman feeds is optimum, neither too low nor too high.
• Optimum levels of vitamins
Sportsman breeder feeds include a high quality premix containing 12 different vitamins. These vitamins are absolutely essential for good fertility and hatchability, and also day-old chick quality, and are included at optimum levels for bird performance.
• High levels of trace elements
The Sportsman premix also includes 7 different trace elements, which are similarly essential for breeding performance. Two of the trace elements (selenium and zinc) are included in a balanced combination of organic and inorganic forms which has been shown to be most beneficial. Organic selenium has a particularly important role, in conjunction with vitamin E, in promoting high levels of fertility and hatchability.
By choosing Sportsman breeder feeds you can be sure you will be buying a feed which practical results from the field have shown is capable of the highest levels of performance. In addition, Sportsman have an active R&D programme for all their feeds, including those designed for the breeding pheasant or partridge. The aim of this programme is to provide data to enable further development of their feed specifications in the future.