In commercial hatcheries, chicks hatch over a wide hatching window, depriving them from feed and water for up to 72 hours. This may result in a sub-optimal development of the skeleton, the gastro-intestinal and central immune system and other vital organs, and thus lots of slow or no starters in the flock. In addition, young birds are highly susceptible to infections, resulting in leg problems and a high mortality rate. Therefore, an early feeding strategy should be optimised in order to ensure an optimal start for all chicks.
For this purpose, Agrifirm has developed Galli Crunch, a pre-starter to overcome the difficult post-hatch period of chicks. This product was developed with special attention to the following 5 pillars:
Energy boost. Galli Crunch is a highly digestible feed and as such can be very readily taken up by the young chicks, assuring fast and efficient energy intake and nutrient availability. This ensures that chicks stay vital and continue consuming feed, needed for their further development.
Easy digestion with low antinutritional factors. The low amount of antinutritional factors present in Galli Crunch combined with highly digestible feed ingredients enable the young chicks – having lower activity of digestive enzymes – to digest the feed very efficiently. This leads to better growth and development of the gastro-intestinal tract, which is essential for optimal feed digestion and nutrient assimilation. Also, the residual yolk is taken up more quickly with birds fed Galli Crunch, as feed present in the digestive system stimulates the peristaltic movements and increases the yolk sac utilisation. This results in less yolk sac inflammation and the use of the valuable yolk as protection instead of an energy source.
Defence shield. Hatchlings are very susceptible to pathogens. Circulating maternal antibodies can help protect the birds, but only against microbes similar to those previously encountered by the hen. To counteract this and the immature adaptive immune system and poorly developed gastro-intestinal tract of young birds, a synergistic blend of functional feed ingredients is added to the Galli Crunch concept. Medium-chain fatty acids combined with other highly antibacterial and immune modulating ingredients will provide an extra barrier for a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria. Several trials performed in broiler and breeder chicks have shown a significant reduction in mortality rates in the first week of life when the animals were fed Galli Crunch compared to a normal (pre-)starter.
Antioxidant optimisation. The hatching process is very demanding on the chicks and may deplete several important nutrients, including anti-oxidants. The inclusion of anti-oxidative molecules in the pre-starter will overcome this issue and in addition help in reducing translocation of pathogens, toxins, etc… by promoting intestinal integrity.
Pellet quality. Hatchlings have difficulties consuming feed particles that are too large relative to the dimensions of their beak. Galli Crunch is presented as a small 2mm pellet and stands out in terms of pellet quality. As such the loss of product is minimised and homogenous uptake by the birds is assured. Once ingested, the small pellets easily disintegrate in the crop and stomach and nutrients become readily available to the young chicks.
By focusing on these 5 pillars, Galli Crunch very effectively supports hatchlings to overcome the stressing post-hatch period. A smaller variation in time and amount of feed intake can be observed, of which weaker chicks and early hatchers will benefit relatively more. This will ultimately lead to a more uniform and better performing flock.
Author: David Hermans, Product Developer Poultry, Agrifirm