Feeding of hand-reared grey partridge Perdix perdix chicks - importance of invertebrates
Survival of hand-reared gamebirds is reported to be poor after release into the wild. One reason for the high mortality is assumed to be nutritional maladaptation of hand-reared birds to natural foods. In captivity, birds are usually fed commercial poultry foods, which are originally meant for chickens. We carried out a feeding trial to examine the importance of invertebrates and animal protein on the growth and development of temperature regulation in grey partridge Perdix perdix chicks. Three
... erdix chicks. Three diet groups were established: invertebraterich, low-invertebrate, and fish groups. Invertebrate food consisted of fly (Calliphora) larvae and ant (Formicoidea) pupae, and the fish diet of fresh vendace Coregonus albula and smelt Osmerus eperlanus. Each diet group was provided with ad libitum plant food. Chicks were weighed every third day, their primaries were measured, and their cooling rate at 0°C was recorded. Chicks fed an invertebrate-rich diet were heavier than the other chicks, and their primaries developed earlier than the other chicks' feathers. Chicks fed a low-invertebrate or a fish diet cooled faster than chicks fed an invertebrate-rich diet. A wild brood was captured and 7-day-old wild chicks were examined as a reference group for the captive chicks. Results obtained from these chicks are in agreement with the results obtained from the chicks fed an invertebrate-rich diet. In conclusion, invertebrates are not replaceable by a fish diet like the one used in our study during the growth period of hand-reared grey partridges. Invertebrates should be included in the diet of hand-reared grey partridge chicks during their first weeks of life.