The source of all tissue proteins, including the major muscle mass of the body, is dietary proteins and amino acids. The closer the supply of dietary amino acids comes to actual levels required for optimum growth, the greater the proportion of lean tissue in the body. The body of the bird, like humans, has a remarkable capacity for storing surplus dietary energy in the form of fat.
A certain amount of fat on the carcass of the chukar may be desirable for its meat has a tendency to be “dry.” Diets formulated at the University of California, Davis, for chukars are given in table 3. The suggested protein level of the starter diet is 25 percent; this level was found to be more than adequate for satisfactory growth in the chukar. For those who desire a higher protein starter diet, we recommended the following feeding regimen: 28 percent protein diet for 2 weeks followed by a 24 percent diet for 4 weeks, thereafter switch to a 2 0 percent diet in which, by weight, half is supplemented with milo.
A breeder diet containing 16 percent proteinis adequate for most laying flocks of chukars. A commercial chicken breeder diet can be easily obtained in bulk and generally costs less than most game bird breeder diets.
For optimum performance partridge breeders should be kept in a laying house in either cages, wire-floor colony pens, or on the floor where temperature and light can be controlled. When pedigree matings are desired, the individual cage system is used where individual bird performances can easily be monitored.
The most economical method for keeping chukar breeders is on the floor in mass-mated flocks, maintaining a mating ratio of one male to four females. This ratio may be revised upward or downward depending upon the strain and environmental conditions under which the birds are kept.
Keeping breeders in outside range pens is practiced with limited success in some areas of the United States. Some disadvantages associated with this system of management is exposure of the birds to adverse weather conditions and high disease risk with blackhead and coccidiosis, two diseases that can cause high mortality.
Individual cage management. Breeder cages large enough to keep a mating pair or two females and one male per cage are used exclusively at the University of California research farm.
The all-wire cages with sloping floors measure12 inches wide x 24 inches deep x 15 inches high (figure 11). The ½ inch x 1 inch mesh welded wire floor slopes about 2 inches from back to front. The galvanized 2 inch deep “V”trough waterers are attached to the back of the cage, providing water to back-to-back cage sections if such a system is desired.
Colony cage management. Another systemised at Davis consists of an all-wire colony pen that measures 60 inches wide x 28 inches deepx 20 inches high. The sloping floor is constructed of ½ inch x 1 inch welded wire mesh that allows the egg to roll to the front of the cage for ease in harvesting. Each cage is equipped with a 6-inch diameter water fount that is adjustable for proper water level. The pen will accommodate 12 breeder birds, 3 males and 9 females
Floor management. Perhaps the most economical method of managing breeders is to keep them in floor pens. The floor should be concrete and equipped with a drain for washing. The walls should be painted with an impermeable material for ease of washing. Either bulk feeders or automated feeding troughs are used to reduce labor involved with feeding. Locate automatic watering founts on a stand or roost and equip them with rollers to discourage birds from roosting on them. The location of nest boxes along the walls of the floor pen will greatly reduce the number of dirty eggs and egg breakage. The colony type nest is most commonly used in floor managements, allowing 1square foot of nest box for every 6 hens.