Achieving high levels of shell quality in pheasant and partridge breeders is critical to breeding success. Shell quality is influenced by many factors, but nutrition has an important role to play and Sportsman breeder feeds have been designed to optimise shell quality.

If shell quality is poor, egg strength will be reduced and the eggs will be more likely to crack. This leads to a reduction in the numbers of settable eggs, and if any cracked eggs are set, their hatchability and resulting chick quality will be poor. However, if shell strength is too high, then hatchability can be reduced because the chick finds it difficult to break through the shell at hatching.

Calcium is particularly important and Sportsman breeder feeds contain the correct level and source for best results - too little calcium and shell quality is reduced, but too much calcium will lead to egg strength being too high, and excess calcium in the feed compared to the bird’s requirements is excreted. A coarser form of limestone is used to aid calcium absorption from the feed. It is not necessary to feed additional sources of calcium to the birds.

Phosphorus is also important. A reasonable level of phosphorus is required to safeguard bone strength in the day old chick, but too much phosphorus will reduce shell quality and also add significantly to feed cost. The breeder feed must contain an appropriate balance of calcium to phosphorus for good egg production and quality.

Vitamin D has a crucial influence on shell quality, interacting with the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in the bird. Sportsman feeds contain the highest levels which are permitted legally. Furthermore, a proportion of the vitamin D is provided as HyD, a more available form of this vitamin.

Shell quality is also influenced by egg weight and Sportsman feeds are specified to support high levels of production with optimum egg size. Protein levels and amino acid balance are critical in this area - protein is made up of different amino acids and maintaining the correct balance between them is important. Linoleic acid (a component of fats and oils) also has an important influence on egg size and hatchability.

You can be sure that specifications of Sportsman breeder feeds have been set to optimise shell quality.