Friday, June 14, 2013

Most Important Learnings from 2013 Breeding Season - Feed Handrearing Formulas Dry to Hens and Chicks

Click on this photo of the youngest Columbus Fancy chicks and admire the tight feathering. Considering they are yet to go through their baby molt the quality of the feathering is fantastic. I like to see the feathering so tight that it looks like a slick suit rather than obvious individual feathers.

So what did I learn from the 2013 breeding season?

You may recall that in 2012, I was very hot on the CeDe Handrearing Formula but unfortunately, it was quickly out of stock at Higgins and so my experiments with it were cut short and were limited to using the product for hand feeding.

So this year at the National Cage Bird Show, I pre-ordered a case from Higgins. Also this year an equivalent product Biodecken Novafood Neonate first became available when Ricardo Sanchez brought this brand to the US and I had it also to work with.

They are both excellent products for hand feeding chicks. But you must know your breed. My rollers are 99% receptive to anything I do including hand feeding at will.

My borders are the opposite, Almost 100% of my borders will stop feeding or never fed if I even look in the nest to see if they are hatching well. One peak and that it. They have very strong protection instincts. Meddling or hand feeding is not tolerated! So the best thing for my borders is to feed fresh foods twice or three times a day and stay out of the aviary and avoid eye contact!

Recently, I found a border chick on the floor. I warmed it up a bit and hand fed it and gently placed it back under the hen. That was it for the Border hen as she refused to feed it another bite even though it was already a few days old. Wish I would have had a roller available for fostering...

With hand feeding Borders unwise, I decided to provide the handrearing formula, dry just as it comes from the package, in a separate dish starting on the morning of the 13th day to all my breeding pairs.

Did It Work? Did it ever work! The product works even better dry when the hen feeds it than when you supplement hand feed with it! And my best border hens who required their handrearing formula dish refilled each morning, their chicks grew at a fantastic rate!It was most notable on the borders as it seems like since they prefer less egg options their chick have a short growth lag compared to my rollers.

I also learned that handrearing formulas are fantastic weaning food as the chicks readily eat it. I attribute the excellent feathering on my young birds this year to having handrearing formula in the cage for the hens and also continuing to feed it to the chicks. I will continue feeding it dry to all my young birds or potential show birds through the molt...

It is such a healthy formula! I had a couple of older birds that were out of sorts and sure enough within a day or two of having a supplemental dish of handrearing food, they were back to normal!


Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,
Interesting! So, you feed the Cede handrearing formula just straight away in dry condition to the birds?
If you can get it, you could try the handfeeding formula from Chemivit the first 3 daya, 28% protein, and only 3% fat.
Good luck!

Linda Hogan said...

I just feed it in a separate dish dry just like it comes from the box and make sure it is available before the chicks start to hatch and they refill daily.
Supply is a problem. Higgins tells me they also have a handrearing formula of their own. I will be getting literature on it and comparing with the other two formulas. CeDe is very slightly more textured than Nova neonate.

Anonymous said...

Ok, if the Cede is more textured it seems better, as lots of these formulas just look like dry powder, being afraid if given to the chick it might dehydrate them.
I suppose you also give regular softfood apart from this. What brand do you use, or do you prepare it yourself? If so, what is you recipe?

Linda Hogan said...


In my experience, the only time I see chicks with dehydration (red sticky skin) is when they get nestling diarrhea and I do feed it in addition to softfoods. I do not offer greens till they are banding size as a get a faster growth rate with higher protein till banding. To achieve that I offer 1/4 hard boiled egg as is but stop it when they are ready for banding to avoid nestling diarrhea which may happen after the chicks are banded when she is stuffing them and her choice of feeds is too much puree egg and egg containing nestling food.

I have really out did myself this year with nestling foods but I like to spoil my birds!

One nestling food is Biodecken Novafood with hard boiled egg and some of my cous cous, poppy seed, vitamins, olive oil, palm oil and warm water with added cooked (then cooled) quinoa (this is also feed as a separate food with CeDe nestling food added).

A third is hard boiled eggs, cornmeal, vitamins, white bread, and a box of dry baby cereal.

The fourth added to yellow ground birds after banding is BioDecken Novafood, Higgins Proteen nestling food, Sprilina, vitamins, broccoli (leaves best for color) and peas or corn (moisture is only from the veggies added).

Red ground birds it the lst, 2nd and 3rd type plus red coloring agents (bogena and carophyll red).

Anonymous said...

Dear Linda,

Just bounced on your blog, and as I also do breed borders as a hobby,
I have one remarks on this discussion.
Do not feed a hand rearing formula
which is too high as to the protein level as this may provoce gout in young chicks, noticed as swollen feeds.
The Cede is about 18% in protein, higher protein levels will bring you into problems.
Dr Jan Vanderborght MD - Belgium