Feeding Game - Be Informed

Feeding game is an expensive exercise. Game farming with animals not reproducing as they
should is even more unaffordable. Be informed, choose the correct product, and feed for results.

Game, as opposed to farm animals like cattle and sheep, have survived and multiplied for thousands of
years without intervention by man. Through a 'survival of the fittest' selection process over millennia, game
species have developed, as it were, a super gene pool in contrast to farm animals generally selected for
reproduction characteristics such as, for instance, milk production, rather than survival attributes of game
such as resistance to disease.

The arrival of the plough and of fences, however, changed things: game is no longer free to roam over
wide ranges to where the grazing is most favourable in terms of quality as well as quantity, as most species
did in the past. Previously, game which could travel freely, avoided grazing deficient in nutrients and
minerals and selected more favourable grazing with high levels of these minerals.

Nutritionally the problem starts when the availability of both the Protein and Energy of the veld decreases
as the grazing reaches a more mature stage. In more sourveld areas, grazing quality declines sharply from
March, and during the winter protein content can drop to as low as 2 - 4%. Low protein values, together
with a lowered digestibility inhibit the intake of enough roughage and this leads to weight loss. This weight
loss manifests itself further in a decline in fertility, natural resistance against internal and external parasites is
negatively affected as well as poor hoof and horn growth which is obviously of great economic im-
portance as it affects the trophy animal adversely.

Fenced in game is thus not in a position to be self reliant. Healthy farming practices such as supplementa-
tion must therefore be applied to counter the potential economic loss.

The starting point with supplementation is to ensure that the natural veld is still utilised and that only the
shortages are supplemented. Available grazing is thus 'stretched' as far as possible, while care should be
taken to avoid overgrazing which has many negative and expensive consequences in the long term. Guidelines regarding carrying capacity, thus, should be strictly observed.

Late summer, autumn and early winter

Normally there is enough volume of grazing during this period, but with a reduced value. Protein supplementation during this time assists with both the digestibility as well as the intake of the natural

The supplementation required here is only one containing protein and minerals. This period usually lasts
from March/April to around June/July after which the amount of grazing available can also become
problematic depending on both the particular season as well as the grazing pressure.

Different protein supplements are available but one should guard against blocks which are too hard
resulting in low intakes, and avoid products too reliant on urea to provide protein. Avoid licks with any
form of medication, and consult the bag tag for vitamin and mineral additives.

Driehoek Feeds' Game Lick is a 16% Protein supplement which is urea free and is specifically formulated to
fulfill the requirements during this period of the year. This Lick can be safely utilized to ensure the desired
intake and is also high in vitamin and mineral additives.

Middle and late winter

It is  important, during this time, to determine the actual  volume of the available grazing. Is there enough
standing hay and reasonable amounts of still edible leafy material left? Are there any available wetlands
for the grass eaters or any rocky ridges, which normally ensure that browsers like kudus still make use of
shrub like vegetation? If the quantity of natural grazing is still sufficient, a Protein supplement in the form
of a Lick is still all that is needed.

Normally, however, at this stage the veld shows signs of thinning and it is usually a consideration to
change to a production Lick which supplies Protein and Energy. This helps 'stretch' available grazing, but
also maintains the animals' condition which assists in the hard months which lie ahead. Most production
licks contain a small amount of urea which should rather be avoided especially where scarce and valuable
species are concerned. Avoid production licks which contain ionofors (e.g. Na Monensin) as this can be
fatal for all the hind gut fermenters like Rhino's and Zebras.

Where the amount of grazing available begins to be problematic, especially where there is a high
concentration of game, it might be necessary to change to a complete feed.
Driehoek's Standard Game
Cubes can be used to fill the gap in veld quantity. This product is safe to use and includes a very high
profile vitamin and mineral supplementation. There is absolutely no so-called 'acacia bush' added. Only
material which is highly digestible and palatable is used to ensure that the necessary nutrients are supplied
to the animals which are now certainly subject to a certain amount of nutritional stress.

It is thus important to use the right product at the right time to ensure the most cost effective supplemen-
tation  of  animals and to achieve the desired results.
Successful Broiler Production

The basic management principals for the successful production of broiler chickens stays the same,
whether there are 20 000 chickens in an environmentally controlled unit or 200 chickens in a shed on
a farm where the ventilation is controlled manually.

The production of broilers has changed enormously over the last few decades.  In the 1960s and 1970s, the
total production in South Africa was less than 4 million broilers per week, and a good production norm
was about 1.8kg live weight (7 weeks old) with a  feed conversion rate of roughly 2,1:1.

By 1990, the production had increased to around 7 million broilers per week and the  same weight was
reached after 42 days. The per capita use of chicken meat was about 15kg per year, as opposed to 18 kg
beef, 6kg mutton and 3.3kg pork per person per annum. 

At the moment, almost 14 million broilers are produced per week and the production norm has changed
to nearly 1.85 kg by 35 days. The per capita use of meat has changed to about 22kg chicken, 12kg beef,
3kg mutton and 3.5kg pork per year. The effectiveness of production has improved dramatically with feed
conversions these days of 1, 6:1 against 2, 1:1 in the seventies. Thus, only 40 years ago, 30% more feed was
needed to produce 1kg of chicken meat than now.

Boilers, thus, play an important role in the provision of protein on a national scale. The effective feed
conversion rate of broilers over other species, and the small surface area needed for broiler production,
means that this role will continue to increase in the future. Broiler production is currently the single biggest
agricultural activity in South Africa.

The biggest percentage of broiler production worldwide takes place in intensive, environmentally con-
trolled units. In order to provide meat more economically to the informal sectors in the more rural areas,
however, the production of broilers in primitive houses is still successful, even on earthen floors. 

Successful broiler productions on a smaller scale are not determined by how modern the facilities are, but
rather by the extent to which the finer details of all aspects of the process are focused on from the
beginning to the end.

The following can be regarded as critical areas in the production process:

1.  Disinfecting the chicken house inside and outside beforehand.
2.  The correct preparation for the arrival of day old chicks.
3.  Establishing the correct density.
4.  Temperature management from the beginning right through to the end of the growth phase.
5.  Daily management of floor material.
6.  Establishing the correct amount of drinkers and feeders needed.
7.  Precise management of drinkers and feeders on a daily basis.
8.  Sensible ventilation control throughout the day.
9.  Disease management, the application of good bio-security and the choice of a vaccination inoculation
10. The accurate application of a scientific feeding program. 

Poor management in any one of these areas can seriously harm production. The secret to successful broiler
production is not contained in any one facet, but rather in the continual attention to detail in all facets.


It is very important not only to use a high quality feed but also to apply it correctly. The reason for this is
that broilers grow very quickly and in a period of about 6 weeks change from a 55g chick to a 1,85kg
adult chicken ready for slaughter. Obviously, the nutritional requirements, especially those of protein and
energy, change dramatically during this period. 

The initial protein and amino acid levels for the first two weeks are very high. The requirements change
drastically through the different phases from when the carcass forms to the last phase where fat is built up.
It is very important, thus, to use a three phase ration consisting of a Starter, a Grower and a Finisher to
ensure that the changes in nutritional requirements from high protein initially, to high energy at the end,
are addressed as effectively as possible. It is also important to change rations at the recommended time.

It is very important to feed a good quality product.  It is not financially viable to feed a cheaper, less dense
feed for longer. The reason for this is that nearly two thirds of the energy from the feed is used for main-
tenance functions such as breathing, staying warm and moving around. Since only one third of the energy
translates into body mass, it is logical that the sooner the target mass is reached, the less energy is wasted. 

When comparing feeds with one another it is important to study not only the protein levels on the bag tag,
but also those of Lysine. Lysine is an important building block of protein and has a very specific relationship
with all the other amino acids. High Lysine levels normally ensure a good amino acid profile which is more
important than just the protein per se.

Driehoek Feeds has more than 20 years experience in this industry and remains at the forefront of new
technology by using the countries' best nutritionists. Driehoek's broiler products guarantee a smooth
changeover between phases, are highly enriched with  vitamins and minerals, include enzymes for better
digestibility, have top amino acid profiles and include an energy density which ensures target weights are
reached. The Broiler Starter includes additional medication, and throughout the range the growth
stimulant and coccidiostat are alternated to prevent the build up of immunity against the medication.
© Driehoek Feeds - 2009
The Basic Broiler Production Manual

The aim of this manual is to draw the attention of the practical stockman to some of the more
important points which, if overlooked, may depress flock performance.

This manual is not intended to provide definitive information on every aspect of stock management.

Floors, walls, ceilings and all equipment must be cleaned and disinfected at least one week before arrival
of the chicks. Also clean thoroughly around the house. Remove feathers, old bags or any material that
could be infected with germs, bacteria of viruses.

Floor Material
Use bedding like wood shavings or dry peanut hulls evenly distributed (± 5cm). Wet patches (from leaking
drinkers) should be removed daily and replaced with fresh dry material. As birds grow older, floor material
should be raked daily to prevent any caking. Manage your floor material daily. Bad management of your
floor material will ultimately lead to diseased and poor growing chicks.

Heating could be electric (infrared), gas brooders or anthracite bowls. On day one, the temperature at
litter level should be 35șC under the brooders, with an ambient house temperature of 24șC to 28șC. These
temperatures MUST be achieved prior to the chicks arrival. Hereafter temperatures should be reduced by
± 2,5șC per day to achieve house temperatures of  ± 18șC to 21șC by age 28 days.

Use a thermometer in every house. Place an equal amount of chicks under the brooders available. Uniform
heat distribution throughout the brooding area is of the utmost importance. Use your discretion when
starting and stopping your heaters taking all factors such as hot days, cold days, adequate ventilation etc.
into account. Observe your chicks' behaviour -  it will tell you if they are un-happy (see sketch).

Dots represent chick distribution beneath radiant hover-type brooder
Drinking Water
A vitamin / mineral mixture (stress pack) should be used in the drinking water for at least the first three days.
Dissolve the powder in water according to the instructions and keep this mixture in a suitable container
inside the house to ensure water at room temperature (24șC to 28șC). As a rule of thumb you will need
10 liters of mixture per 100 birds to last for three to four days. Use the mixture until finished and then continue
with normal drinking water.

At least for the first 4 days automatic drinkers should not be used. Day olds tend to get wet in them and
any leakage at this stage could be catastrophic. Use chick founts at a minimum of 4-6  founts per 100 birds
to stimulate water intake to a maximum. After 4 days automatic drinkers can be introduced slowly in
between chick founts and by 10 days of age all chick founts should be out with only automatic drinkers in
use. While in the brooding area automatic drinkers can be supplied at 4 per 1000 (0.4 per 100) birds. This
number should slowly be increased to 1 drinker per 100 birds by 28 days distributed evenly throughout the
house. Adjust the height of drinkers twice weekly to birds' shoulder height.

The water supply tank should be in the shade and water pipes not close to the roof to ensure cool drinking
water for older birds in summer.

Initially feed should be provided in your feeder bases as well as additional feeder trays or corrugated paper
to cover 20 to 25% of the brooding floor area with feed. You can also use the chick boxes from the
hatchery by simply cutting them at the first row of ventilation holes. From 10 days onwards you can
introduce the tubes to the bases and by three to four weeks of age, depending on outside temperature,
tube feeders should be supplied at three feeders per 100 birds evenly spaced throughout the house with
drinkers evenly spaced in between. Adjust the height of the feeders twice weekly to birds' shoulder height.

Stocking Density
In open type houses with adjustable curtains 10 birds per square metre is recommended. Do not exceed
12 birds per square metre. Over stocking does not yield higher profits but rather higher mortality rates,
poorer growth rates and birds not uniform in size.

Good ventilation is of utmost importance. A strong ammonia smell in the house is a sure sign of bad
ventilation. Even during cold periods curtains should be lowered slightly by mid morning to ensure proper
ventilation. Adjust curtains several times per day according to the prevailing conditions. Avoid draughts in
the house at bird level by keeping the wind side curtain higher. Good ventilation will help to keep floor
material dry and produce healthier chickens

Disease Control
For the main viral diseases (IB, Newcastle and Gumboro) obtain a vaccination programme from your
hatchery and follow the instructions carefully. To prevent bacterial infections for healthier and more disease
resistant birds pay special attention to the following:

Avoid litter transfer between houses by using a chemical footbath for gumboots. A 3% formalin solution is
cheap and effective. Always plan movement in between houses to start at day olds and end at oldest

Keep floor material dry by regular raking and proper ventilation. Avoid leaking drinkers and replace wet
patches immediately with fresh floor material.

Keep temperatures as even as possible by adjusting your side curtains regularly according to weather

Stimulate feed and water intake by following the guidelines as mentioned. Remember that your medication
in the feed requires a regular intake to have the desired effect. Dry drinkers in hot climates can cause
permanent kidney damage in very short periods.

Clean and sanitize the houses properly and rest houses empty of birds for as long as possible.

Recommended Feeding Programme

Do not use age in days to plan your feeding programme but rather kilogram feed  consumed. We will use
500 birds as an example.

Starter (Crumbs or Mash)
Use 0,5kg per chick placed.
e.g. 500 chicks x 0.5kg = 250kg = 5 bags Starter
e.g. 680 chicks x 0.5kg = 340kg = 6,8 bags Starter (use 7 bags)*

* Note that the figures used here serves as an example for the standard Driehoek Broiler   range. With
the budget range we recommend to use 800 grams Starter and 1.5kg Grower.

*NB Always round off to a bigger number. Continue with starter feed until this amount has been fed.

Important note
At the end of this Starter period a fine dust will remain in your feeders which will not be eaten. Remove this
dust completely and fill feeders with fresh Grower feed. To prevent losses this dust could be mixed with
Grower feed and used in the following few days.

Grower (Pellets or Mash)
Use 1,3kg per bird placed
e.g. 500 birds x 1,3kg = 650kg = 13 bags Grower
e.g. 680 birds x 1,3kg = 884kg  17,7 bags Grower (use 18 bags)*

Finisher (Pellets of Mash)
Use Finisher feed until day of slaughter / birds are sold.
More about Driehoek Feeds

Driehoek Feeds was established in 1989 in the heart of the Waterberg in Vaalwater.

Right from the start the business philosophy was to surpass expectations in three areas: QUALITY, SERVICE
and PRICE.

Quality is never sacrificed and is assured firstly, by sourcing only the best raw materials available and
secondly, by using only the feed formulations of top animal nutritionists, which also ensures that the latest
research and technology is incorporated in the rations.

Efficient, professional service is assured from dedicated staff who take responsibility for their domains of
quality control, administration and general management. Our service includes professional and technical
advice on feed related matters and we strive for absolute excellence in our delivery service even in
remote areas. 

Better prices than what the market generally dictates are achieved through the selective, careful buying
of raw materials and effective "hands on" management. In addition, steering away from top-heavy Head
Office infrastructure contributes to our main objective of being without a doubt….

Internal Parasites & Game

When able to range extensively in their natural habitat, the exposure of game to harmful internal
parasites is relatively low, and these are mostly prevalent in old, sick or thin animals. Problems with
internal parasites  often arise, however, with intensive farming or when the animals do not adapt well to
a new environment.
For example, internal parasite infestations can occur when breeding with scarce game species in small
camps, or when game is moved to a new environment where they battle to adapt, and this then
necessitates parasite control.

Both external and internal parasites are relatively easily managed in cattle and sheep as a result of the
many effective dips available in the market, as well as the fact that the practical application of these
straightforward and manageable. Normally the animals are held in a crush while the correct chemical
dosage is administered.

The success of applications depends completely on the correct dosing procedure: the dosages work on
the principal of a precise amount of milligrams of the active ingredient per kg live weight of the animal.
Obviously, the live weight of cattle or sheep in a crush can be fairly easily ascertained, and the correct
dosage thus individually applied. Although there is a margin of tolerance with the dosage application,
as accurate measuring as possible should be striven for as greater deviations lead to over or under dosing.

Over dosing can obviously be extremely dangerous and depending on the active ingredient involved
can result in various side effects including a negative effect on fertility, abortions, permanent kidney and
liver damage, and even mortalities.

Under dosing, on the other hand, is just as dangerous as this can lead to the build up of resistance in the
specific parasite against the specific active ingredient being applied. The life cycle of most parasites is
extremely short and consequently mutations within a population can occur very rapidly. The consequence
of under dosing thus, is that the farmer soon finds himself in situation where dosing is not effective and the
initial problem is now much greater.

Since game species cannot generally be herded into a crush, a problem arises. Unfortunately, without
taking the eventual negative effects into consideration, a system has evolved whereby deworming
chemicals are mixed into lick blocks. There is unfortunately no way in which the animals' intake of the
'medicated' block can be accurately determined and estimated intakes can easily vary by 100% or more
as a result of veld condition and dominance at the lick block.

It is thus obvious that both the overdosing as well as the under dosing of a large amount of animals within
the population will be the end result of this approach with the resultant negative effects.

How to deal with Internal Parasites in Game

As discussed above, relatively low populations of internal parasites occur in game living in extensive
farming situations. Infestations are mostly seen in animals in poor condition as a result of age or sometimes
where an injury has occurred. Besides poor condition, other indicators are a slightly hunched back and a
coarse 'winter' coat especially on the back. These are the animals which, in a completely natural situation,
would become the first lion food. If these animals are of relatively low economic value, the best suggestion
would be to have that animal culled from the herd in order to prevent further infestation.

With the intensive farming of scarce species, however, the approach needs to be completely different.
Uncontrolled internal parasite infestations can lead to serious economic losses as cows which begin to
lose weight as a result of internal parasitic infestations will not ovulate regularly and this will result in lower
calf percentages. Obviously such situations need to be addressed urgently

Effective dosing here is critical and the negative effects of over or under dosing must be avoided at all
costs. The approach taken should rest on the following principles:

1.  The whole group of animals must be treated
2.  The process must be managed and monitored daily. Dosing usually occurs over a 5 day period but this
     may change from group to group.
3.  The animals must already be used to a certain amount of the ration per feeding time before the
     application of medicine begins.
4.  The biomass of the group must be estimated as accurately as possible.
5.  All competition at the feeding troughs must be eliminated.

It is clear, thus, that it is critically important that there is close co-operation between the farmer, the
veterinarian, and the feed supplier. It is important that the farmer seeks advice from the veterinarian in
order to identify the nature and extent of the infestation. On the basis of what he discovers the
veterinarian will determine which medicine, the amount, and the length of treatment of the animals.
Driehoek Feeds we ensure that the prescribed chemical treatment is thoroughly mixed in, at the
correct dosage. Good temperature control is very important as the active ingredient can be destroyed
above certain temperatures during the pelletising process. To ensure success, the farmer must ensure that
the recommendations with regards to the medicated product are adhered to as closely as possible.

With intensive farming it is desirable to dose twice a year. Dosing usually occurs in the winter when the
parasites are mostly inside their host and then after the first spring rains when the camps are heavily
infested with worm eggs. Egg counts are not costly and should be done strategically throughout the year
by supplying your veterinarian with dung samples.

It is clear, thus, that the ad hoc use of a 'medicated' lick block to control internal parasites will not only
have a minimal chance for success, but can also easily exacerbate the parasite problem. Dosing
medicines are expensive and can also be dangerous. There are unfortunately very few products available
on the market which can be prescribed by a veterinarian for dosing through feed. Other products
currently available can only be administered through a stomach tube after the animal has been immo-
bilized which obviously becomes a very costly operation. Drs Manie Du Plessis and Karel Toet, well known
veterinarians from
Limpopo Wildlife Services in Modimolle, are of the opinion that it is very possible that
in the near future too much resistance to the available products for deworming may develop which will
prohibit effective parasite control. This emphasizes that the incorrect application of the available doses
must be avoided at all costs.

It is self evident that one cannot afford to lose valuable breeding stock as a result of weight loss because
of internal parasite infestation. It is also important to ensure too, that one does not suffer negative long
term effects resulting from the incorrect use of the limited chemicals available on the market. Contact
a veterinarian with experience in the game breeding field or contact
Driehoek Feeds who will put you in
touch with professionals who can assist in addressing the problem in a scientific manner. The short cut is
often ultimately the most expensive one!    
The Importance of Digestibility
coming soon
Feeding for Increased Horn Growth - WRSA Interview

Feeding for increased horn growth, the benefi ts of diatoms and parasite control are a few of the many
controversial issues with which game breeders have to deal.  Driehoek Feeds has been manufacturing
game feed in the Waterberg since the 1980s.  We interviewed owner Janneman van der Merwe who
places great value on a systematic approach and scientifi c research when deciding on a feeding
strategy for breeding animals.

WRSA: Driehoek Feeds manufactures a very wide range of animal feeds.  How does your game feed
range fit into the success story?

DRIEHOEK: We manufacture a complete range of animal feeds including the Equus range of horse feeds
which has resulted in numerous awards including a "Best of the Best" award in 2011 vindicating our dedica-
tion to quality and adherence to scientific principals.  Over the last 20 years, game breeding has become
a major industry and breeders have been presented with huge nutritional challenges in fairly unchartered
territory.  Driehoek began working closely with wildlife veterinarians and other game specialists more than
twenty years ago, using scientific knowledge from various fields to develop supplementary feeding strategies
for this relatively new industry.  Today we are proud to be involved with many of the top Game Breeders in
the country as well as institutions such as the Pretoria Zoo which assists with further research.

WRSA: Browsing through your website you appear to have a wide range of Game Products listing no less
than 6 different products in the range?

DRIEHOEK: Game Breeding is not only on the increase but it is also becoming highly specialised.  There is
thus a need to have specialised products available for a variety of applications ranging from extensive
ranching to game in captivity.  The feeding of valuable groups in smaller camps where fertility, digestive
health and hoof health are all critical requires a sound, long term approach which is entirely different from
supplementary winter feeding.

WRSA: Horn length is very important to breeders and an increasing number of manufacturers advertise
products claiming to enhance and promote horn growth.  What is your view on this?

DRIEHOEK: This is unfortunate.  In the absence of solid scientific data, "effective" marketing can often present
misleading information.  Breeders should remember that scientific advancements are not usually the result
of one major breakthrough or discovery, but rather the result of gradually emerging theories supported by
a raft of evidence.  On horn growth, unfortunately this evidence does not yet exist.

WRSA: What is your general philosophy regarding increased horn growth?

DRIEHOEK: The fact remains that research is limited.  Work done on Bighorn rams in Canada has shown that
horn growth is affected by a complex interaction of age, body mass, and resource availability, but resource
availability per se did not correlate positively with horn growth.  It also appears that during periods of high
reproductive activity horn growth can cease completely.  There is as yet no scientific evidence for claims
that certain ingredients increase horn growth.

WRSA: What approach do you recommend Breeders adopt regarding horn growth?
DRIEHOEK: Focus rather on maximizing reproduction!  Be aware that feeding incorrectly in an attempt to
increase horn growth can, for instance, induce laminitis and subclinical lameness leading to low calving
percentages.  The correct levels of biotin, manganese and zinc, for example, have been proven essential
for healthy, strong hooves and we prefer rather to focus on such areas where we can rely on scientific data
to obtain the desired results.

WRSA: The feeding of diatoms has also caused much controversy.  What is your view on the subject?
DRIEHOEK: In all fields, one has to differentiate between proper scientific research as opposed to unscientific
"on farm" comparisons.  When only anecdotal evidence is presented it is usually not possible to verify the
source of information or to separate the effects of the treatment from other background variations in the
tests.  One also needs to identify when claims made are extrapolated from data where only limited results
in favour of the hypothesis are quoted.  Regarding the effectiveness of diatoms specifically, we prefer to
reserve comment until more scientific work is published and made available for scrutiny by other animal

WRSA: Do you include diatoms in your Feeds?
At present we do not.  We remain open to future scientific work but one also has to keep in
mind that huge differences exist between various sources of diatomaceous earth and more work is needed
to clarify the exact extent of these differences and how this impacts on the application thereof.

WRSA: What is your approach to parasite control?
DRIEHOEK: Always talk to your veterinarian first.  Representatives of pharmaceutical companies can also be
very helpful.  We do offer solutions with treatment through the feed but recommend that proper worm
counts be done beforehand and that the application takes place under well planned and controlled con-
ditions.  General application through lick blocks can lead to either over or under dosing with disasterous
long term results.

WRSA: Do you envisage launching a product containing acacia bush as a raw material in the future?

DRIEHOEK: We don't.  Typically milled "acacia bush" shows very high ADF values indicating a digestibility of
below 30% which is much lower than what browsers would naturally select.  The aim of supplementary
feeding is to support the available browse with materials of a much higher digestibility.  The digestibility of
the product should be a key factor when evaluating the cost effectiveness of your feeding programme.