When we first published the C. P. Feed formulas, last October, it was a question in our minds whether poultrymen preferred to mix their own feeds or to purchase them ready mixed. We knew how good the feeds ere and that the best possible results could be expected. Now, after three quarters of a year has gone by, from the letters we have had and the poultrymen we have talked to, there is no doubt that the Supplement has popularized the home mixing of mash. With all the small ingredients, and incidentally the most important, in one bag, it is a simple matter of make up any formula suited to individual requirements. The actual combination of ground grains is relatively unimportant. They can be regulated according to market prices, the seasons and class of stock.
In the Supplement we aimed to include every necessary element in which the grains are deficient. Thus, we have animal protein and a high percentage of organic minerals. Vitamins A and D are also present. If birds were kept under natural conditions, conditions that they would instinctively choose, and were allowed to live their lives in their own way, we would not have to supply them with any proteins or minerals or vitamins. Things being as they are, necessitating the keeping of several hundreds of birds to the acre, sometimes totally confined even, if we don't supply them with every element that nature intended them to have, we are courting trouble and we usually get it.
The ingredient that always causes comment is the dehydrated kelp. Some people have never heard of it being used for poultry and still others do not know what it is. Kelp is seaweed and supplies come to us principally from the Pacific Ocean. The plant grows in profusion only in certain locations along the Pacific coast where there is the proper combination of water depth, water temperature, atmospheric temperature, currents and rocky bottom. One strange characteristic is that kelp does not take root in the ocean bottom, and always grows from rocks to which its many roots attach like claws, forming heavy masses.
From these rocks the plants grow to the surface of the ocean 60 feed or more above and then develop along the surface until they reach an average length of 120 feet at maturity. The water in which the kelp grows is so clear that the bottom of the ocean can be clearly seen. Kelp is harvested by a large boat carrying special equipment. This harvester moves slowly through the kelp beds, while reciprocating knives, like those on a grain harvester, cut a clean swath ahead of the boat. After the kelp has been cut, it is picked up by a conveyor which discharges it into the hold of the harvester, When the boat has been loaded with freshly harvested kelp, it returns to the manufacturing plant where it is dehydrated and ground.
Now, as to the value of kelp for feeding poultry. It is well known that the minerals in the land are gradually washed, by rains, into rivers and find their way to the sea. Very gradually, a little each year, the land is yielding up its mineral content to the sea so that today, in many parts of the world, the land has become woefully deficient in the minerals vitally necessary in maintaining perfect health. Plants grown on land that ordinarily have the ability to store up these valuable elements are unable to do so if the elements are not present in the soil. Therefore, we must ask the sea to yield up some of its abundant store. Fish contain some of these vital elements but the richest source is found in plants that grow in the sea and so we use kelp for our supply.
The remarkable ability of the giant brown kelp plants to absorb the essential minerals from the ocean and to concentrate them in vegetable form gives kelp meal great value in animal nutrition. These digestible mineral salts constitute more than one third the weight of kelp meal and they are several thousand times more concentrated in the kelp plant than in the ocean water. The variety of minerals in kelp is as important as the digestible, vegetable form in which they are present.
The more important essential minerals of kelp are vegetable Iodine, Iron, Copper and Manganese. Prominent among its other mineral constituents are Calcium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Chlorine. These essential elements are usually very deficient in land grown feedstuffs. Such a combination of minerals in practical concentration cannot be found in any other plant. The extraordinary amount of vegetable iodine is one reason why it is such a valuable foodstuff for poultry and cattle. The real value of iodine for poultry is only beginning to be realized. It is known to assist in the assimilation of calcium, promoting a better bone structure, and it is usually found that birds fed on kelp eat less food, the supposition being that because of the action of iodine, working through the thyroid gland, greater assimilation of the digestible particles of the food takes place.
It is also acknowledged that a supply of kelp gives greater resistance to disease, and this, in itself, is worth the consideration of poultrymen.
Because kelp is very high in minerals does not mean that it is a complete mineral feed in itself. Calcium and phosphorus in greater quantities than are found in kelp need to be supplied to poultry. The Supplement includes calcium carbonate (ground oyster shell, clam shell or limestone) and the bone meal and meat scrap supplies the phosphorus.
There is no mystery about mixing good feeds. It is something that every poultryman should become acquainted with. The successful feeder is he who knows how to ring the changes, who senses the coming needs of his birds and is able, through knowledge of the value of foodstuffs, to maintain his birds in the very finest condition throughout all the seasons.