My company is working on designing a probiotic supplement for chickenfeed, and we'd like some input from farmers and retailers on what the most important things are to them in terms of the supplement's effects:
Should it decrease chicken mortality?
Increase speed of weight gain?
Help protect against other diseases?
What are the most important things to you that our product could help with? Thanks for your time and opinions.
I don't know how much interest you'll get for this on a permaculture forum, but for anything I give my birds, I want it to be organic, natural, and promote the best health for my chickens. Products don't typically meet those requirements, so I make my chicken feed, supplements, preventatives, treatments, etc, myself from natural, organic ingredients.
There were a lot of commas in that paragraph.
posted 3 years ago
I understand that you want natural, sustainable solutions. Our probiotics will simply be bacteria mixed with a small amount of medium, like ground flaxseed that can be mixed into the feed. We are trying to breed the best bacterial colonies that we can for chicken health.
If you want my input as a person raising poultry with commercial aspirations, I am concerned about numbers when it comes to buying extra. My chickens are happy chickens who eat healthily and well already, if I am getting something extra for them it needs to be something that will increase my net profits.
So to a certain extent helping them put on weight would be important, but only if that weight increased the value more than the cost of the supplement without jeopardizing the trust my customers would have in purchasing poultry from me. I am an open and honest man, so whatever I give to my chickens has to be something my customers would approve of.
Decreasing their mortality is not something I am overly concerned with. Our losses are minimal and not due to anything a supplement can prevent. Diseases are also not a concern of ours.
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 3 years ago
I live in a world that is awash in germs. I am reluctant to buy germs when they are so readily available for free. I see plenty of products advertising germs for sale. I don't buy them, because I figure that my farm is capable of producing a sufficient quantity of locally-adapted germs. I prefer to source my germs locally rather than from a centralized germ-bank.
As an example: This batch of vinegar was made entirely from wild germs: from grape to finished product.
I want a probiotic to promote better health. So yes, less mortality and protect against diseases but only via boosting their immune systems. Not because it has anything that's going to fight any disease or bacteria directly. A probiotic is a boosting agent, not a fighting agent.
As for increased speed of weight gain. No thanks. The biggest issue with commercial broilers is they have the ability to grow too fast which causes structural issues both skeletal and organ. I have no interest in doing this. A healthy bird will grow as fast as it needs to and I will choose a breed based on my need for growth rate. Don't want to manipulate them into growing faster than is healthy. Especially as my butcher birds are generally with my layers so I don't want something that isn't good for long term layer health by causing them to grow too large.
Endless Prairies resident.
Currently home of... 8 bovines, 1 equine, 5 feline, 2 canine and numerous poultry.
I might be interested in something that would promote health in newly hatched chicks. At the moment, I have very few losses with my chicks but there have been times where they don't seem at optimal vigor and would like something to boost that. I put applecider vinegar in their water and sometimes vitamins when they seem to need it. One of the biggest deficiencies I have seen is in Vitamin B/E, which causes leg and neck issues. My fix for that is crushing vit B complex tablets from the drug store and mixing it with their water(always works wonders) but I would love a more natural version of that. Not sure probiotics can offer that though, maybe something to boost that in the hen that lays the egg (where the deficiency ultimately comes from).
I have also at times fed fermented feed (basically homemade probiotic feed). The most recognizable result of this is drier, less stinky droppings. I know I can get this from fermented feed so I probably wouldn't buy a separate probiotic for this purpose unless it was really cheap, but something for you to consider when testing/marketing your probiotic. Nobody likes stinky poo.
I'd be interested in something that can help protect from disease in some way. Chickens are pretty sturdy to physical injury, but incredibly vulnerable towards all sorts of disease and illness.
Decreasing the incidence of those diseases will also decrease chicken mortality.
Plus a healthy chicken will grow faster than an unhealthy one, and will put more energy towards weight or eggs anyway.
So the way I see it, that feature will help accomplish all three.
posted 3 years ago
You certainly can make your own probiotic. We are simply trying to breed for specific traits. Humanity's done the same thing with grains and other plants for quite a while. Wheat has come a long way from the wild grass it's descended from. I'm not promising that level of improvement, but that is our aim.
Actually, there's some pretty good evidence that probiotics can act as fighting agents towards more parasitic bacteria. This is basically the concept behind FMTs, fecal transplants, that they use in humans to combat some very aggressive diseases of the gut. Once again, I don't claim that our product WILL be a cure to any specific disease in a chicken, but we will certainly be breeding our bacteria to improve chicken health.
Increased weight gain doesn't have to be unhealthy. I know that Cornish Crosses have short lifespans associated with the speed of their development, but from what I've read that has more to do with the unevenness of their development, rather than the speed of their growth. Our focus though, is decreasing mortality.
We do intend to do trial runs with multiple generations of just-hatched chicks that are supplemented as well as older developing chickens. What percentage improvement over a control group would be convincing to you, and in what areas: straight mortality, mortality adjusted feed efficiency, maturation time? We are actually quite interested in the details of what sort of performance chicken growers want, and at what improvement level they might be convinced to try our product.
Also, we have decided to create dry feed additives. We'd decided that if we could solve the caking issues in the additive that it would be much easier than adding to the water, although we did give that some thought as well. Any strong preferences on this point? We came to this conclusion after talking to some farmers and looking at the current products.