When I wrote the 5 Keys to Winning in one of my previous article, I received a lot of questions as to which of the five keys is the most important and without a doubt it would be GOOD HEALTH. The best bloodlines are not worth anything without sound health. The following are not in itself complete but I believe these five would be the most important when it comes to achieving peak gamefowl health.
(1) Elimination of External and Internal parasites. Lice, intestinal worms, protozoans and other bloodsucking parasites both internal and external are your fowls worst enemies. In fact they are an even more formidable enemy than the opponent they will face in the pit. See to it that your fowls are regularly wormed, deloused and treated for protozoans/leukocytozoons at least once a month. Baby chicks should be dewormed starting at a month old and every month thereafter for the rest of their lives. By doing these procedures, your fowls will sleep soundly at night, have a healthy red blood cell count, and a much better feed conversation rate etc;
(2) Low Bacterial and Viral Challenges. In a hot and humid country like the Philippines bacterial and viral challenges are an everyday problem. An airtight bacterial flushing and vaccination program is a must if one is to achieve great farm health. Have a monthly bacterial flushing schedule for both respiratory and intestinal diseases. If one cannot afford the full range of vaccinations a fowl needs, then at least give them one for New Castle, IBD, Fowl Pox and Coryza. All the other vaccines will be optional but nonetheless important. A weekly farm disinfection is also a big must but be sure to rotate the type of disinfectants being used ie Chlorine based, Formaldehyde based, Iodine based etc;
(3) A Balanced and Varied diet. Just as important as a proper crude protein level, is the variety of feed we give our fowls. Do remember that game fowls are omnivorous. They will eat anything from grains to fruits to reptiles and insects. Provide your fowls plenty of green grass, and if there is none, local veggies and fruits will do. A good source of animal protein like excess eggs, fish and bone meals in small quantities is very good for them. Going back to crude protein levels, I keep mine between 15-16 percent after the 8th month of their lives. An unnecessarily high protein level in their feed might result in excess fat and tax their livers, not to mention rob your pocket paying for expensive high protein feeds that fowls really do not need;
(4) A Happy Environment. Bored people tend to be fat and lazy. It is the same way with fowls. Have a stimulating atmosphere in your farm by letting some young pullets run around in the cord area once a week. You will see how happy your warriors would be seeing those pretty ladies running around. They will be crowing and jumping up and down their pens and tee pees. Provide your hens a nice range that they can refresh their minds and bodies in after each breeding season. Do not forget that having a healthy and happy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Mental conditioning is one of cocking’s best kept secret;
(5) A Regular Physical Activity. I regularly hear from good feeders that fat has killed more roosters than the knife. Fat roosters and hens will tend to be sluggish and in turn be more fat. In battle, fat roosters will be slow. In the broodpens, they will have lower fertility. Fat hens will lay fewer eggs. During the moult, maintain regular exercise by throwing their feed on the ground and let them scratch for it. In good feather, rotate your warriors from pen to pen, cord to cord and a new environment when you can and if you can. Fowls without excess fat will be easier to condition for battle and be better performing broodfowls.