The scavenging area for family poultry is usually limited and often over-scavenged. The quantity and quality of the feed base for family poultry are also very variable, depending particularly on the season, but also on rainfall and agricultural activities. The supply of protein, minerals and vitamins is often high during the rainy season, owing to the abundance of insects and green materials, but becomes critical during the dry season. On the other hand, most of the materials available are deficient in energy throughout most of the year, because the feed base is generally high in fibre. Overall, feed consumed by family poultry can be considered deficient in all major nutrients – energy, protein, calcium and phosphorus. It is therefore recognized that scavenging alone will not provide enough feed to support the needs for growth or egg production, and that body weights and egg numbers can be markedly improved by the provision of supplementary feed. Small amounts of strategically administered supplements are likely to increase production and minimize mortality. Several of the alternative feedstuffs identified in this information note can play an important role as supplementary feeds.
Unlike the intensive poultry production system, the family poultry system lends itself well to the inclusion of locally available, alternative feedstuffs. Most of these feedstuffs are available only seasonally, in limited quantities and in specific locations, but can easily be accommodated within the family poultry system. Many of these materials are dusty in nature, and could be wasted if offered in dry form. To avoid wastage, these materials are therefore best offered as wet mash.
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