Broiler Prestarters

Ioannis Mavromichalis
This is certainly not a new theme, but it keeps coming up in discussions about practical feed management at the farm level. With 'prestarters' I mean the special feed often provided to broilers in the first couple days post-hatching.

There are two types of prestarters. One comes in the form of paste. This is usually supplied in a limited amount in the boxes during transportation from the hatchery to the broiler house. It aims mainly to keep birds hydrated, but it also offers a good source of energy and electrolytes. The second type of prestarter is more likely the usual dry feed, but in the form of meal (usually but not always) instead of pellets. It is a fortified diet supplying extra energy, minerals, vitamins, and most importantly certain additives for enhanced gastrointestinal health.

Research and experience quite often don’t agree, and this might be a stellar case!

Although in research findings feeding prestarters has been shown to benefit broilers in terms of reduced mortality and enhanced growth, such findings are less pronounced under commercial conditions. Obviously, results depend on individual farm conditions, but criticism to the practice of feeding prestarters comes also from those advocating little need for them due to the still-strong presence of residual egg yolk in the hatched chick that keeps it hydrated and nourished for at least 48 hours post-hatch.

So, who is right, and what are your experiences? Do you use a prestarter and if yes, what type do you think brings the most return on investment?

As always, many thanks for your comments!


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    Prestarter feed as mentioned has been practiced for quite sometime.One is in the form of paste during transport of chicks to grow out ares to reduce mortality ,dehydration etc.The other in the form of crumbles usually a high density diet is given for the first ten days.The second one is practiced more now and it gives a better uniformity,better gut health,controls mortality in early days,and gives the chicks a good start in life and in the end you have better performance.The paste form although used is not very user friendly as during transport bound to drop off from sides of boxes and blend with the faeces and gets contaminated.Most farmers and feed millers to day prefer the crumbles for the first ten days,.

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    The use of the two types of prestarter is nothing new.They have been used for quite sometime.Each has its pros and cons.The paste form was originally used
    to overcome dehydraton, mortality during transport.To day more and more feed millers make the crumble form of prestarter of a high density form to be fed for the first ten days.This brings better unifomity, with good gut health,
    lower mortality and in the edn better returns,The only problem is that as the feed is used for 10 days the volume is small and feed millers will have to have small packing and the cost is normaly high as it contains higher level of nutrients.The paste form often gets detached from the side of the box and gets blended with the faecal materials and becomes contaminated.So the preference to day is for 10 days crumbled feed.Also to day transport of chicks to grow out areas has improved and more and more feed millers, breeders and farmers are adopting to the crumbled feed.

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    While,birds are being transported, feeding is not scientifically approved because birds are anxious and under stress, without water also will suffer suffocations even with wet feeds. If certain facilities for offering electrolites with supplementations of energy sources will work.

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    Colin Cuddehay

    This is news to me as I assumed all farms provided "chick booster". We make all of our feed on our broiler/pig farm and have truly great mortality figures.We can't imagine how a DOC could possibly have the same requirements as a growing broiler,nor can a recently weaned piglet for that matter. Every day we make eight different formulations.We only produce 5000 broilers and 100 pigs per month but feel our results justify the extra effort.

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    Syed Farjad zaidi

    first of all we have to decide when we are going to us prestarter definitely feeding for rehydration and energy during transit is a different issue. farmer is more concerned about good start on farm doubling day old body weight in minimum time or 5 or 7th day weight which ultimate end in good end body weight grower and finisher feeds are equally balanced and good.
    In South east asia where low density feeds are used good prestarter is must, but because of low volume required commercially producing specific feed is difficult,under current feed prices scenario for large farms and integrator it is must to opimise performance

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    I think that the prestarter feed needs to many studies including the level of nutrients, vitamens & minerals. Also the amount of this special feed provided to the broilers so prefer to make experiments to compare & get a scientific,economic results.

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    dr h sodhi

    as broiler are growing faster then a decade or less before for that they need a better start, which is available in form of prestarter ration only for 5-7 days. Even some producer gives at that stage protein of 24-26%. There after in starter ration it is given up to 20%.in most articles it is stated that if start is good it will lead to better gut health(length of villi & their numbers) & furthur lead to better performance. Most producers are following this trend because they are getting good results.

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    Waseem Al-Shible

    There was bad habit in my region the arrival chickens must undergo fast for 6-12 h and added sugar to water supply. But this method proved it failure by itself. If the chickens arrived directly to feed and water the feed induce the peristalsis of intestine to induce the absorption of yolk. If the chickens in the last days of hatched had higher temperature the absorption of yolk sac became less, the chickens would have larger yolk sac during its first days and the prestarter feed couldn't repair this default.
    Best Regards
    D.V.M Waseem Amer Al-shible

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    The prestarters are normally highly specialized rations, normally costing significantly higher than the normal starter, normally fed for 3-4 days, with little added value on the 7day weight. I may believe the farmer will have a high cost of feeding per bird due to this prestarter, and will result in his birds being too expensive at the shops, hence lowing demand.

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    Dr Ali Ahmed

    I have introduced a prestarter feed for broilers in Pakistan and is giving excellent results of up to 0.80 FCR for first 7 days of broiler life. I beleive that broilers must be given such nutrition during first 10-12 days and it will impact for whole of broiler`s life.

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    @Dr Ali
    Are you talking about double zero or may i know ur feed company name.

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    i don't really think its really necessary to give birds pre-starter in the crumble form, to a lesser extent i agree on giving birds pre-starter in the paste for tht is if it will take 9 hours or more to transport birds to the farm from the hatchery. Prestarter in the crumbe form is an unnecessary cost that can be done without. Having looked at the growth profile of broilers in southern Africa for the past 2 years, there is no significant difference when a farmer uses pre-starter or he use starter. The main issues about the performance of birds lies more on brooding, at what temperatures are you brooding your chicks.

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    dr a.u.qidwai poultry consultant

    Since inception of this practice I have noticed quite large no of incidences of gout in early days of brooding of broilers especially. This leads unnecessary medication & many more conplications

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    Kim Ton

    peer reviews stated that pre-starter diet can help the chicks enhance the innate immunity, gut morphology. I think chicks really need high energy feed during their first 10 days

  • ahmed

    @ Dr Ali
    what about components and ratios

  • hossien mohammadzadeh

    Prestarter feed as mentioned has been practiced for quite sometime.One is in the form of paste during transport of chicks to grow out ares to reduce mortality ,dehydration etc.genetic improved and growing faster of broiler modern then a decade or less before for that they need a better start, which is available in form of prestarter ration only for 5-7 days.I have introduced a prestarter feed for broilers in IRAN and is giving excellent results first 14 days of broiler life. if the diet is mash, I beleive that broilers must be given such nutrition during first 14days and it will impact for whole of broiler`s life.

  • Damien Hubaut

    My opinion is that a real prestarter feed for broilers (it means the first 2 days after hatch) is an investment for the futur ! Most of the intern organs are not yet developed. So we have to help this developpment. We can help you with this philosophy.


    Broiler prestarter gives chicks a good start.

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