Understanding Feed Ingredients Used For Poultry Feed Formulation (1)

Poultry farming, though potentially lucrative, can be fairly risky if a farmer is not diligent. Some farmers have recorded severe losses by way of disease outbreaks or dismal productivity resulting from poor feeding among other things.

Apart from the hygiene condition of the environment where poultry are kept, the types of feeds – and manner of feeding – that the birds are subjected to can prove quite critical in determining the ultimate output achieved by a farmer whether in terms of eggs laid, or bird sizes/weight at point of sale. Someone once made an interesting observation to me about practicing poultry producers here in Nigeria.

He pointed out many of these farmers lack formal training in poultry management. However, despite this seemingly serious inadequacy, they successfully feed/manage their birds for profit – which is why they remain in business even today!

Now if that is possible, imagine how much better off they would be in terms of farm productivity (and profits) if they developed a better knowledge/understanding of poultry feedstuffs and ration formulation/compounding!!

Feeding is one critical element that determines how well poultry or any other farm animals perform. It impacts not only on growth rates, but also on the disease resistance of the birds (though protection is also afforded the birds through vaccination/medication regimes).

To put it another way, it has been acknowledged that ‘Diet is an important component of the environment under all climatic conditions. The potential of the bird cannot be attained if the environment, and notably the diet, is substandard.

This is why an understanding of feed ingredients, their composition, and use in ration formulation is CRUCIAL.

Estimates have shown that feeds represent 70 – 75% of the total cost of livestock production – especially poultry and piggery production. Ration formulation is a technique that enhances adaptation of local feed stuffs in compounding rations. It takes into consideration 2 basic concepts:

a. The specific nutrient requirement of different animals.
b. The ingredients of the feed itself.

There is also some specific requirement dependent on the type of animal in question: whether it is monogastric or ruminant. A ruminant animal is one that brings back food from its stomach and chews it again, and which is able to digest cellulose (a complex carbohydrate) with the aid of microorganisms, which live in its intestines e.g. Cow and sheep. A monogastric is one that can is incapable of digesting complex carbohydrates e.g. poultry etc.

Nutrients are chemical substances found in food materials (feeds), which are required for the growth, maintenance, production and health of animals. A balanced ration is one that supplies these nutrients in the right amounts and proportions relative to each other. When rations are well balanced, a smaller quantity is required for most economic efficiency, while greater amounts of a poorly balanced ration will be required to meet the specific production purposes in livestock. These greater amounts constitute expensive wastes, which could have been saved if the rations had been well balanced in the first place.

Poorly balanced rations depress appetite in animals leading to poor performance, and high susceptibility to infection and disease. In carrying out ration formulation, we study the daily nutrient requirements of different animals, and compare with the composition of available feed ingredients. We then manipulate the latter to meet the needs for satisfactory productivity either in terms of meat, milk or egg production.

Next: Part 2 of 2– Discussion of Four (4) Major Groups of Feed Ingredients For Ration Formulation

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