Over the past half a century, poultry production has become more intensive and in the process supplied consumers with an abundant and healthy process of protein. Today’s consumers can look forward to safe meat, eggs and chicken by-products.
Great gains have been made in production as well as efficiency while minimizing the environmental impact partly due to the use of additives in the poultry feeds.
What are feed additives?
Almost all diets contain additives, including the diets of humans. In poultry feed manufacturing, the feed additives are used in order to boost the efficiency of the growth of the poultry stock as well as or the bird’s laying capacity, to prevent incidences of diseases in the poultry and also to improve the poultry’s feed utilization.
All the additives that are used in the poultry feed formulation must have been approved for use. They must also be used as directed with regards the to the concentration levels as well as the duration of feeding the poultry.
The poultry feed additives used are also specific to the age and the types of the birds being fed. In many cases, the guidelines for the use of feed additives in poultry feeds will be provided by the relevant government agency such as the department of agriculture in your country. Here is a look at some of the common feed additives that are included in poultry feed formulation:-
Antibiotics: Antibiotics have been used in the poultry industry since 1950 mainly to boost the growth of the birds and to improve feed efficiency. Antibiotic dietary supplementation can also significantly boost egg production.
Antioxidants: Common antioxidants used as feed additives for poultry feeds include BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. They mainly help in preventing oxidative rancidity in the bodily fat of the poultry.
Grits: Grits are hard substances that can either be soluble or insoluble. Once ingested by the chicken, they will remain trapped in the gizzard to help in facilitating the grinding of the poultry feed. Some of the common grit materials used in poultry feeds include clam shells, oyster shells, gravel, limestone, pebbles or even granite. If you are feeding your chickens mash of finely ground poultry feeds, then you may not need a lot of grit.
Xanthophylls: The xanthophylls help in producing the deep yellow pigmentation on the shank, feet, beak and egg yolks of the poultry which is quite popular with many buyers and end users. It is usually indicative of top quality poultry products.
Acidifiers: The acidifiers are added on the poultry feeds to help in lowering the PH of the feed and contribute to excellent gut health which is good for the health of the chickens. A low PH acts as a natural inhibition against the various pathogenic microbes. The acidifiers can be in the form inorganic acids or organic acids. They exert their antimicrobial function directly on the feed before it is ingested and after it has been ingested.
Here is a look at the main ingredients used in poultry feed formulation:-
Corn and Soybean Meal: There are various grains and cereals that can be used in poultry feed formulation but corn and soybean meal are by far the most popular. In Europe, wheat will be substituted for corn. Corn and soybean meal are also the lowest cost sources of energy and proteins.
Fishmeal and Meat Meal: These make for great sources of protein as well as amino acids. They also contain bone meal which makes for a great source of minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorous. Depending on their prices, these should make up anywhere from 2% to 5% of the diet being formulated.
Calcium and Phosphorous: These are the main minerals that should be included in the poultry feeds. Plant Phosphorous is likely to contain non-phytin factors. Consider that only about 30% to 40% of the plant Phosphorous is a non-phytin P. It is therefore advisable to increase the proportion a bit or supplement the organic P with inorganic sources of P.
Salt: Salt is an integral part of most poultry diets. It should make up 0.2% to 0.5% of the poultry diet.
Supplemental Lipids: These can make up to 5% of the poultry diet. The importance of the lipids in the poultry diet is that they will increase the energy utilization in your poultry by reducing the passage rate. They can also reduce the heat increment that can affect production.
Yellow Pigmentation: It is advisable to use as much yellow pigmentation as possible in your poultry feeds. A good source of yellow pigmentation for poultry feeds is yellow corn or yellow maize. You can also use other poultry feed ingredients that are great sources xanthophylls like an alfalfa meal or even corn gluten meal. The yellow pigmentation in the poultry feed will contribute to the yellow coloration of the chickens; feet, shanks, egg yolks and skin which are quite popular with end consumers.
Non-nutritive additives: The non-nutritive additives can be added to the poultry feed for a number of reasons. For example, the antibiotics can be added to control diseases and stimulate the growth of the poultry. The nitrofurans and arsenicals can be added to improve the performance of the poultry. Other non-nutritive additives that can be added in the poultry feeds include antioxidatives, antifungal compounds and antiparasitic compounds.
There are various techniques which can be used in formulating poultry feeds. All of these poultry feed formulation techniques are geared at achieving the same objective of producing high quality and well balanced poultry feeds at the least cost possible.
Here is a brief overview of some of the techniques used in poultry feed formulation:-
Trial and Error Poultry Feed Formulation Technique
The trial and error technique is the most popular method used in poultry feed formulation. As the name suggests, the feed formulation will be manipulated through a trial and error process until you are able to meet the nutritional needs of the bird. Through the trial and error method, it is possible to formulate the exact the combination that will meet all the nutrient needs of the bird.
Linear Programming (LP) Poultry Feed Formulation Method
The linear programming technique involves coming up with a least cost formulation with the use of various mathematical equations. Each of the questions can have diverse solutions but once the cost of the poultry feed ingredients is applied, you will only be able to achieve a single least cost combination to work with.
This process can be done with the help of a computer that is capable of making thousands of calculations within the shortest time possible to give the least cost formulation.
The only problem is that machine will not correct any errors caused by the use of incorrect data. There could also be errors in setting up the software tool. The rations that a machine will give you via a linear programming will only be as good as the data that has been fed into the machine.