Chicken Feed Ingredients: What is in Your Chicken Feed?

mixed seeds and grains for poultry

If you are planning to formulate your own poultry feed, you are likely to spend a lot of time trying to find the right chicken feed ingredients that will assure you of the best quality nutrition for your chickens.

Poultry Feed Ingredients
Poultry Feed Ingredients

Thankfully, with the modern farming techniques, you now have the opportunity to easily boost the nutritional quality of your chicken feed ingredients along with that of the feed additives and supplements affordably.

This is advantageous not just for the poultry producer or farmer but also for the poultry feeds manufacturer as it can assure you of better profit margins. Having poultry feeds that are of high quality will help in enhancing the economics of poultry feeding for all that are involved in the poultry feeds value chain, from the farmer to the poultry feeds processor to the eventual poultry feed buyer. It is even good for the customer who will buy the quality and nutritious poultry products such as meat and eggs.

There are various additives that are commonly used in poultry feeds. These include the pellet binders, feed conditioners, grain conditioners and the moisture optimizers. There are various benefits that a farmer can derive by incorporating chicken additives. For one, the poultry feeds can have a longer shelf life and be preserved for a longer duration of time. The feed additives also help in enhancing the nutrition and improving the value of the property.

Poultry Feed Ingredients

Below is a look at the basic chicken feed ingredients that every poultry feed formulation must contain:-

  • Protein meals
  • Cereal grains
  • Cereal byproducts
  • Feed additives
  • Fats and Oils
  • Minerals and Vitamins
  • Miscellaneous raw ingredients like roots and tubers

The cereal grains will constitute the largest amount of the chicken feed ingredients. Adding them in the poultry feeds is also a cost-effective measure as it will assist in the fulfillment of the energy requirements of the chickens. The fact that they are relatively cheap also lowers the overall cost of the poultry feed formulation.

The drawback with the cereal ingredients is that they are quite susceptible to bacteria, mold as well as rot so if not well handled, they can easily degrade the quality of the poultry feed.

Grains must also be stored properly. If they are not stored well, they are most likely to harbor mycotoxins that are likely to negatively impact the growth of your chickens. This is where the advantages of the poultry feed additives come in. When used in the poultry feeds, their preservation properties will come into play, enabling the grains to be used as feed ingredients in the poultry feed formulation over an extended period of time without going bad when they are stored over a long duration of time.

There are various important ingredients that you will need to supply your chickens through the poultry feed ingredients. These include the essential amino acids that are found in the proteins, vitamins as well as minerals. The remainder of your flock’s dietary energy requirements will be met through fats, oils as well as the protein meal ingredients.

How Do the Supplements Improve the Health and Performance of Your Flock?

The supplements used in the poultry feeds help in increasing the health and the productivity of your chickens by boosting the nutritional output of the poultry feed itself. Using poultry feed supplements can help manufacturers and farmers save a lot of money as these supplements help prolong the shelf life of your poultry feed while also boosting the producer’s poultry yields. The use of supplements also simplifies the transportation process and reduces the incidents of tear and wear in the production machinery of the manufacturer.

The Common Supplements and Additives Used in Poultry Feeds

The main additives and supplements used in poultry feeds include the following:-

  • Organic minerals
  • Flavours
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Antimicrobials
  • Pellet binders
  • Direct fed microbials
  • Acidifiers
  • Toxin binders
  • Antioxidants
  • Mold inhibitors
  • Feeding Effectors
  • Anti-stress agents
  • Feed conditioners

How to Boost the Chicken Feed Ingredient Value

Adding effective ingredients in the poultry feed formulation will make the food manufacturing more profitable for feed companies as it helps in enhancing the value as well as the nutritional quality of the poultry feed produced which is sold to bulk buyers and farmers.

Different Ingredients Go Into Poultry Feeds Formulation
Different Ingredients Go Into Poultry Feeds Formulation

Supplements that are nutrient-rich can also boost the optimal health of sick and stressed birds. Overall, this will contribute to a boost in the farmer’s yield and profitability. The supplements are fairly easy to apply and help cut down on the population through the chicken’s fecal waste.

When Good Poultry Feed Goes Bad

Poultry feeds can be destroyed and rendered useless by bacteria, mold as well as rot. The worst of these is mold which is fairly difficult to eradicate once it has taken root in your poultry feeds. As the mold grows further, it will eat up the nutrients that are in the poultry feed.

The growth of mold in the poultry feed can also get a little toxic. If your flock consumes moldy feed, they are likely to be exposed to the mycotoxins which can lead to more serious health issues based on the amount of portion that they have consumed.

Even where you have used “best practices” in poultry feed formulation and storage, it is still possible to have mold growing on and destroying your poultry feeds. To inhibit the growth of mold and destruction of your poultry feed, you can use a mold inhibitor, additives or supplements in the feed. Using these will help minimize the effect of mycotoxins in feeds and grades thus limiting the degradation of the nutritional content of the poultry feed.

The general rule when preparing poultry feeds is that the nutritional requirements of the bird must be met. To give your chickens optimal nutritional levels, make sure you consider the additives and supplements as they play a crucial role in improving the value of your chicken feed ingredients. Not only do they enhance the ingredients that have already been used in the poultry feeds but they also inhibit the growth of other harmful organisms such as mold and bacteria.


How to Produce Poultry Feed

Poultry Feed Formulation: Milled Poultry Feed


Poultry feed accounts for the biggest cost in poultry raising, typically in the region of 65% to 70%. Typically, in commercial production, poultry feed is formulated scientifically and processed with state-of-the-art machines that guarantee the best standards possible.

Many of the large poultry integrators typically process their own poultry feeds using least cost feed formulation techniques. Doing this professionally assures you of high quality standards. Poultry feed formulation is a science but you don’t millions in investments to begin formulating your own poultry feeds.

If you are running a large poultry farm, you can start processing your own poultry feeds in your backyard if you know the right ingredients to use, the ratio in which you should use these ingredients as well as the right quality control measures that will assure you of clean and high quality poultry feeds free of salmonella.

It is not easy growing all the poultry feed ingredients by yourself so you are most likely going to source your poultry feeds from elsewhere. You need to know the ingredients to use and the nutritional composition of the ingredients used so that you can accurately formulate the poultry feeds that have the right nutritional balance.

The most popular ingredients are generally soy and corn but if you are uncomfortable with GMO grains, you can bypass these and sue the non-GMO versions of these grains. The good thing with poultry feed formulation is that there are numerous types of ingredients that you can use or substitute so if any particular grain is too costly or not readily available, you can always substitute it with the one that you can access more easily so as to come up with your custom mix. And you can do this without necessarily compromising on the nutritional quality of the eventual poultry feeds.

Here is a look at the various types of grains that you can use in your poultry feed formulation. We think getting the ingredients right is of paramount importance. Once you that do this, milling the poultry feed is generally the easy part.

Ingredients to Put on Your Poultry Feed

There are numerous feed formulation recipes that you can find online. What is important is that you pick one that is suited for your region. A grain that is abundant in the Philippines may not be readily available in South Africa or Australia. So try to pin it down to the specifics in order to find a more accurate poultry feed formulation recipe.

The grain that you choose should not just be readily available but also affordable. With least cost poultry feeds formulation, affordability is generally an important consideration.

Take time to study the ingredients used in the commercial poultry feed formulation for various kinds of birds in order to get an idea on the proportion in which they should be mixed. In our Poultry Feed Formulation Manual, we have included information on the proportion in which these ingredients should be mixed in order to get an optimal feed for birds of particular ages. That is a very important consideration as you are likely to severely impact the yield or productivity of your birds if you give them the wrong feed formulation.

Chick mash will need a unique kind of formulation that is different from that of the growers’ mash, layers mash or the finisher mash used in the broilers. For broilers, there is even a post-finisher mash.

When doing the poultry feeds mixing, make sure you strike a careful balance between all the macronutrients used in the poultry mash be they the fats, proteins or carbohydrates as well as the micronutrients such as the vitamins and the enzymes. With some trial and error, you will eventually arrive at an appropriate poultry feed formulation that will be perfect for the nutritional needs of your chickens.

Below is a look at some of the basic ingredients used in poultry feeds:-

  • Alfalfa Meal: This is high in protein
  • Corn or maize: This is the mainstay of the chicken diet.
  • Field peas: You can use this or the soybean. It is the main source of proteins in poultry feeds.
  • Oats or barley
  • Wheat

Things to Add in Your Poultry Feed Formulation

When milling your own poultry feeds, you can add following ingredients in tiny amounts:-

  • Grit
  • Fishmeal: To help boost the protein content as well as the omega 3 in the poultry feeds.
  • Crab meal: Include small amounts for both proteins and minerals
  • Cultured yeast: Can provide digestive enzymes as well as minerals and B vitamins.
  • Flaxseed: This can be a great source of omega 3
  • Probiotic: Follow manufacturer’s directions when including these in your poultry feeds. You can also use homemade probiotics such as fermented yoghurt or fermeted vegetables.
  • Oyster shell: This can be a great source of calcium, particularly for laying birds.
  • A little salt

This is just a general guideline on poultry feed formulation. If you are looking for a more comprehensive guideline on how to prepare your own poultry feeds, check out our Poultry Feeds Formulation Manual.