Feed ingredients are broadly classified into cereal grains, protein meals, fats and oils, minerals, feed additives, and miscellaneous raw materials, such as roots and tubers. These will be discussed in separate headings below. More information on measuring the nutrient composition of ingredients and the process of formulating poultry feeds is available in the section on feed formulation.
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The term “cereal gains” here includes cereal grains, cereal by-products, and distillers dried grains with solubles. Cereal grains are used mainly to satisfy the energy requirement of poultry. The dominant feed grain is corn, although different grains are used in various countries and regions of the world. Of course, in reality, a poultry feed pellet manufacturer will use any grain in a poultry diet if it is available at a reasonable price. Although the amounts and types of cereal grains included in poultry diets will depend largely on their current costs relative to their nutritive values, care must be taken to avoid making large changes to the cereal component of diets. As sudden changes can cause digestive upsets that may reduce productivity and predispose the poultry to disease.
Protein is provided from both vegetable and animal sources, such as oilseed meals, legumes and abattoir and fish processing by-products.
Vegetable protein sources
Vegetable protein sources usually come as meal or cake, the by-product of oilseed crops. The main oilseed crops include soybean, rapeseed/canola, sunflower, palm kernel, copra, linseed peanut, and sesame seed. After the oil is extracted, the remaining residue is used as feed ingredient. Oilseed meals make up 20-30% of a poultry diet. Inclusion levels do vary among formulations for different species and for the same species in different regions.
Animal protein sources
The main animal protein sources used in poultry diets are meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry by-product meal, blood meal, and feather meal. Although the production of animal protein for human consumption has been under continual pressure and marred by much controversy, the world-wide and domestic consumption of animal protein continues to grow and much of the future supply of meat protein will come from poultry. With increased animal protein production there will be increased demand for feed and, in particular, a demand for ingredients high in protein and energy.
Fats and Oils
Fats and oils, collectedly termed lipids, are regularly used in poultry feed pellets to satisfy the energy need of the animal as lipids have more than twice compared with carbohydrates or proteins per kg weight. Lipids are also an important carrier for fat-soluble vitamins as wells for the provision of essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, in the diet. A variety of fats and oils are used in feed, including lipids of animal origins and lipids of vegetable origin.
In practical feed formulation, the level of lipids rarely exceeds 4% in compound feed. However, even a small decrease in digestibility can cost dearly in terms of dietary energy. Like any other nutrient, a varying proportion of lipids are undigested depending on their sources and the species and age of the animal to which they are fed.
Minerals and Vitamins
Minerals are vital for normal growth and development in poultry, such as bone formation and body processes such as enzyme activation. Some minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are required in large quantities. For example, laying hens require between 3.5-4% calcium, 0.3-0.4% available phosphorus, and 0.2% sodium in their diets for egg production. Other minerals, such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc, selenium, cobalt, iodine, and molybdenum, are required in milligram quantities but deficiency of these minerals will lead to serious health problems in mild cases and death in severe cases.
Similarly, vitamins are essential for the body systems of poultry. Both fat-soluble (A, D, E, K) and water-soluble (biotin, choline, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid) are needed in the diet to maintain proper health and wellbeing of poultry.
Some vitamins and minerals are provided by most ingredients but the requirements for vitamins and minerals are generally met through premixes added to the diet. Diets may also contain additives for specific purposes. These are discussed in more detail in the section on feed additives.
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