9 commentsupdate:Sep 24, 2012

Why only three phases?

Ioannis Mavromichalis, PhD
Twenty years ago, broilers were marketed at eight weeks of age. Feeding them was done using three diets: starter, grower, finisher. Today, broilers are marketed at six weeks of age (at similar weight as those marketed at eight weeks of age mostly due to genetic advancements).


We still feed them three diets: starter, grower, finisher. The diets are a bit different (more concentrated) and the time each diet fed is also different (shorter) than before, but we still use three diets.

Why? Why not just two or four phases?

As far as I am aware this is just a convenient compromise between mixer batch size and how quickly feed silos empty. Back then, twenty years ago, broiler farms were smaller, so three phases seemed about right. But now, in large farms that refill feed silos two or three times a week, there is absolutely no reason to stick to the old system.

Ideally, every time a silo is refilled, a new formula (less concentrated) can be used. Alternatively, a new formula can be used each week. This has two advantages: one, it enables a closer match of nutrient requirements with feed composition (reducing nutrient deficiencies at the beginning of each phase and excesses towards the end); two, it allows the use of medicines and special additives to be better planned and executed, without wastage.

I would be really interested to read your opinions on this topic!


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    gino cecchini

    3 phases are required to ensure:
    - optimal delivery of nutrients for each growth phase (Available aminoacids, energy, minerals)
    - medication/coccidiostats, if required, in phase 1 and 2 (more often performed in water)
    - competiveness of delivered product, price makes a huge difference

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    The "three phase" approach has proved to be a workable "solution" and "convenient" and has stood the taste of time! Considering the risk factors to do with broiler keeping, and the economies of scale involved. I do not think any farmer would want to re-invent the wheel. If costs are to be kept at a minimal, if its not broken, dont fix it!

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    Juan Garay

    Really, things are different now. I agree that it is better to get eficiency in feed usage by implementing more diets according bird requierements.

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    In most Russian poultry farms using three-phase feeding program. But sometimes four or five phases (If used prestarter).

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    Angelo Lauwaerts

    The three phase approach is a relict from the past that remains firmly embedded in every day's nutritionist's belief of optimal feeding programm. Yet, from all manuals and published research it is clear that birds' requirements chagne continuously as they grow. Any phase approach is as such an approximative apoproach to a continuous adaptation. 3 phases were an optimum in the past when feed composition had to be calculated manually, or with a spreadsheet at best, when houses and farms were far smaller. Today, with the availability of NIR analysis on feed ingredients and feed optimistations oftware directly coupled to the feed mill's operation, it would make sense to go for a multiphase approach where every new looad into the bin at the farm represents a the best approximative feed composition for the next phase. It could be weekly, shorter or longer, depending on the size of the operation and the degree of automation of the feed mill. For the most modern operations this would allow for further optimisation, but also for more artisan operations, still the standard in a large part of the world, the extra work of changing formulas should not be exagerated as even with a simple spreadsheet this could be done. Only the mixer size woudl at the end be determinative for the maximum of feed phases.

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    lea aglipay

    Why not 4? Yes, an additional feed allows the nutritionist to give highly digestible feed (expensive) where needed, i.e., at the very sensitive phase during the first week. But, a lower nutrient density diet can be used at the latter stage whereby in effect, the average cost may be the same or even lower than a 3-phase diet. However, my dream is to use 5 or 6 phases, when the feed mill capacity will allow.

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    dr.asaad sabbagh

    I think if we can make it more shorter periods it will be much better as we can give the bird waht he want in the specific time even to be weekly ration but the application of this way in egyptian market is some what hard, may be in the futre we can do it, I hope so and sure it will be very good idea

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    Dr.Feroz Ahmad

    Surely its a very nice idea. What it seems practically to calculate the required amount of feed type with standard wt.achieved would be the criterion.Hence be able to give feed in designed intervals. regards,

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    Dr.M.Asif raza

    Three phase feeding is practiced normally in broilers.The genetic potential of the breeds is improved, due to which nutritional requirements are also changed.The cost of the feed is matter while formulating feed. In my opinion fourth phase of the feed as a withdrawl feed at the time of marketing is to be considered ,which would be based on low cost formulation.

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